Little freedom of movement. Loss of jobs. Death.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has already caused terrible suffering and is likely to get worse. That’s especially true in Detroit, which has been one of the hardest hit cities outside the New York metropolitan area.
But during dark times, when we’re prone to negativity, it’s important to reflect on the positives as well. Challenges can bring out the best in people, and we’ve certainly been seeing that in Detroit.
So here are a handful of positive stories to take with you this weekend. As always, stay safe.
Support for small businesses
The economic impact of the pandemic is expected to be profound, especially for small businesses, which generally operate on thinner margins. Though many will likely have to permanently close, local government and the business community have stepped up to support.
Bedrock Detroit, one of the largest commercial landlords in the city, is waiving rent for all its small business tenants for three months. The company said that dozens of its tenants qualify and that the cost of not collecting rent would be in the “millions.”
There’s also a number of grant opportunities available. The Quicken Loans Community Fund (part of the same family of companies and nonprofits as Bedrock) and TechTown Detroit also launched the Detroit Small Business Stabilization Fund, which provides capital grants in amounts up to $5,000 to qualifying small businesses.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is offering grants and loans as part of a $20 million small businesses relief program. And the city of Detroit launched a $3.1 million program providing grants of up to $10,000 for small businesses affected by the outbreak.
Hotel rooms for first responders
Greektown Casino Hotel is offering 40 rooms, free of charge, to police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. These members of the essential workforce often come into contact with people who have contracted COVID-19 and worry about exposing their family. Hundreds of Detroit police officers had to be quarantined after an outbreak at the department.
To stay at the hotel, emergency workers must be free of COVID-19 symptoms and have their temperature checked each time they return.
Consecutive days of clean air
AirNow, which monitors air quality across the country, has reported many consecutive days of “good” or “moderate” air throughout March and April in Metro Detroit. With plants shut down and many fewer cars on the road, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing clearer air.
Though the news is a small silver lining and not a longterm way to reduce emissions, hopefully people will notice the difference when walking around the city. It could also be a good time to for Detroiters to rediscover their neighborhood or reflect on their car use.
Though it’s another silver lining, an interesting side-effect of having largely vacant streets is that some wildlife has returned. People have spotted wild turkeys, coyotes, and other animals—a phenomenon that’s been taking place in cities around the globe.
Crime way down
It seems most people are adhering to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order—even criminals.
In one of his daily news conferences, Mayor Mike Duggan said that crime has been down 40 percent in Detroit since the order went into effect on March 24. A report by the Marshall Project found that crime is down 22 percent versus this time last year with a noticeable drop beginning in the middle of March.
Similar to the reduction in emissions, this one isn’t likely to last beyond the outbreak. John MacDonald, a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Marshall Project that the drop in incidents is “episodic” and shouldn’t last long-term.
#Detroit floral designer Laura Daluga says she's lost about $8,000 from coronavirus-related cancellations of weddings.— Ryan Patrick Hooper (@HoopingtonPost) March 21, 2020
She decided to make use of all the flowers going to waste by creating this "Nothing Stops Detroit" installation at @EasternMarket pic.twitter.com/UWzCTxwDqK
Flower Day at Eastern Market is one of city’s big, annual spectacles. It’s supposed to take place May 17, but seeing as every event through April has been cancelled or postponed, who knows if it will actually happen this year.
But one florist, who has lost a lot of business due to the pandemic, created a beautiful sign out of flowers in Eastern Market with the classic phrase “Nothing Stops Detroit” (see the above photo by WDET’s Ryan Patrick Hooper.) Elsewhere, hospitals around Metro Detroit have been making signs to demonstrate how many people they’ve saved, rather than the daily death or infection count we’re used to seeing.
We’re sure there’s many more positives stories out there. What have you witnessed around Detroit? Let us know in the comments section.