Detroit's largest employer is preparing to have staff work remotely. (Photo: Deadline Detroit.)
Employees at Quicken Loans were working from home Wednesday, major Michigan universities — including Wayne State — called off in-person classes, and at least one Detroit concert was canceled as the fallout from COVID-19 began being felt throughout the state and metro Detroit.
Detroit’s largest employer, Quicken Loans, halted all business travel and prepared to have employees work remotely as Michigan announced its second case of coronavirus and the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. Many employees at the company and others under Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures umbrella practiced teleworking Wednesday, should they be forced to stay home to prevent the spread of the illness.
Michigan universities canceled in-person classes. The University of Michigan will be off through the end of the week then have students take classes online through the end of the semester in late April. Wayne State University extended its spring break, which began March 9, to March 23 and said it would look at ways to limit in-person instruction thereafter. Oakland University canceled classes through the end of the week and was to move classes online through the end of the semester.
Michigan State University called off all in-person classes through April 20, and Central Michigan University did the same, through March 20.
On the events front, the Zac Brown Band scrubbed a Saturday night concert at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, saying the "well-being of our fans is always our top priority."
Also cancelled was a March 27 get-out-the-vote rally with Michelle Obama at the University of Detroit Mercy, and the March 12-13 Detroit Food Summit in New Center.
Detroit’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, scheduled for this Sunday in Corktown, was canceled by organizers late Wednesday afternoon.
City officials were also reconsidering a Census event Saturday at King High School. Grand Rapids dropped a similar event scheduled for Wednesday.
"We are currently consulting with the governor and state Health Director to evaluate upcoming large events. We will provide an update as soon as we have one to share," Detroit Health Director Denise Fair said in a statement.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency late Tuesday and a spokesman with Michigan's health department said it expected to issue further guidance later Wednesday.
Whitmer and other political leaders have urged calm and hygenic precautions like handwashing, limiting physical contact and covering coughs and sneezes.
"Now that we know COVID-19 is present in our area, we all must respond with responsible actions and not with panic. That means following some basic, sound health practices," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement. "Each of us must be responsible for protecting our families, friends and neighbors."
Detroit and other local governments throughout the area have not asked employees to telework.
Pro sporting events were to go on as scheduled, but major leagues said they limit access to team locker rooms and clubhouses only to players and essential employees, starting Thursday.
Many companies and institutions were ordering those who travel to regions with high rates of infection to self-quarantine for two weeks upon return. The average incubation period for the virus is five days.
So far, coronavirus has killed at least 4,000 people around the world and infected more than 116,000.
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