Wednesday News Hit: Michigan layoffs spreading, at-home COVID-19 testing and Detroit cases plateauing

Following a brutal six weeks against COVID-19 that ushered in a staggering number of unemployment filings to the state of Michigan, more layoffs are following as industries not initially hit by the first wave of economic slowdowns. Citizens are getting their first glimpse at the budgetary squeeze the pandemic is putting on health care systems and governments, indicating a greater swatch of sectors is now suffering.

The big news dropped Tuesday morning when Beaumont Hospital said it was temporarily laying off almost 2,500 employees and cutting another 450 jobs. Last week, the city of Detroit found itself in a $348 million budgetary hole that will require close to $50 million in job cuts and hour reductions. Yesterday Wayne County warned workforce reductions are a possibility after a revenue loss of $152 million for the current fiscal year. A source also told FOX 2 that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to announce a series of layoffs within Michigan State Police.

The pattern emerging from these announcements is the kinds of positions that are being cut. Many are administrative roles and aren't jobs filled by frontline workers operating in positions deemed essential by the state. Some examples include DDOT ticket sellers at the city and hospital workers that don't directly care for patients. 

A lot of the money that city and state governments are diverting is going towards ramping up the testing capacity. A key roadblock to weathering the economic fallout linked to the coronavirus depends on the ability of a city and state to test as many residents as possible. Both Detroit and the state of Michigan have emphasized the need for that. To help with that mission, the FDA has just approved an at-home COVID-19 test that some medical health professionals are calling a "game-changer."

"...because the test is validated and it's a similar test that we're using and if you can minimize the amount of PPE being used and take your healthcare team and minimize their exposure to patients that may be positive, I think that is a great thing," said Dr. Sam Allen.

Expected to be available in the next three weeks, the test looks like an elongated Q-Tip with a softer pad used for swabbing. Residents will still need to use the invasive process of inserting it far back in the nasal cavity, however. From there, the test will be mailed to a lab out-of-state.

The city of Detroit believes it has flattened the curve enough to begin testing asymptomatic individuals as well. In the last four days, Mayor Mike Duggan said an average of 36 people have died - matching what was reported last week. Saying the spread of the virus has "plateaued" within the city, Duggan said the number of occupied beds and ventilators has remained the same from Saturday to Tuesday.

"What we are looking at now is we went up very fast, we started to come down, and now we are a flat level," he said. "If you look at those numbers it is very clear that Gov. Whitmer's decision to extend the stay at home order was clearly the correct decision."

Daily Forecast

A cold and sunny start to Wednesday will give way to a mix of snow and rain later in the day.

New study finds more deaths, no benefit to hydroxychloroquine, malaria drug touted by Trump

A large analysis conducted at U.S. veterans hospitals looking at hydroxychloroquine found the drug offered no benefit to patients suffering from COVID-19. The malaria drug has been touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment to the pandemic. 

While not the most rigorous study, it's the largest look at the drug's effects so far.