February 18, 2021
Our new legislative session is kicking into high gear, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to get to work for the people of our state. My highest priority currently is urging my Republican colleagues — who hold the majority in both the House and Senate — to stop playing political games and accept millions of dollars in federal funding to get our schools in a better place as they navigate remote teaching and mull a return to in-person instruction.
Even our Democratic colleagues in Congress have called on these leaders to do the right thing for hard-fought funding. The choice is simple: We use it, or we lose it. Our students, teachers, support staff, administrators, and parents have been through enough because of this pandemic and I will continue to press my colleagues to act.
Below are other important updates on what I’ve been working on in the legislature and how you can be as prepared as possible to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn, or if you already qualify.
If ever my office can be of assistance on matters important to you, please be in touch! You can call (517) 373-2417, or email us at SenRBayer@senate.michigan.gov.
GOVERNOR WHITMER’S BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently gave her Fiscal Year 2022 budget recommendations to a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
While this is just the first step in a long process that is our state budget, I was especially pleased with investments in our education and childcare systems, including:
The economic constraints the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on our school systems cannot be ignored, as they’ve created tremendous challenges with in-person and remote learning, and they have illustrated the inequities in our school-funding model. I believe it is both logical and sensible to ask — as Gov. Whitmer did — for the largest-ever investment in education that includes school-related activities and supports that help working families, like access to affordable childcare for those who qualify. Michigan students and families need and deserve our support, not partisan games, and I look forward to doing everything I can to deliver that to them.
Below is a list of the legislation I’ve introduced thus far this year:
There is good and bad news to report in this realm. The great news is that, in our area, people do want the vaccine and the number of COVID cases is falling dramatically. The bad news is, we still don’t have quite enough vaccines and they are still going to take some time to obtain. However, the latter is changing rapidly and every day, more and more of our family members and neighbors are being vaccinated. Here is the latest information from the state and county:
In Oakland County, the latest data posted shows 41,350 doses have been received by the health department and 41,323 have been administered. That’s over a 99% administration rate!
Using state and CDC guidelines, Oakland County is currently vaccinating the following people:
For information from the state on COVID-19 and the vaccine, please visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or call the hotline at 888-535-6136. If you are a patient of one of the hospital systems in our area, check your online medical chart or portal to make sure they have your most current contact information. If you do not have an account with your local hospital, many of them allow you to create one.
If you are an essential worker in Priority Groups 1A and B, check with your employer. If your employer does not have vaccinations available for you, check your health system AND go to the Oakland County Vaccine Hub website to complete the “Save Your Spot” form, as they use this to set appointments. If you are high priority, they will see that from your answers to the questions and contact you as soon as possible. If you do not have access to the internet or cannot complete the form, you can call the Oakland County Nurse on Call (NOC) line at 1-800-848-5533 and they will complete the registration for you.
In addition to hospital systems and the County, pharmacies across the state will be offering vaccinations shortly to those age 65 and up and frontline workers. Currently, Meijer, Rite Aid, and Walgreens are allowing people to sign up for appointments and/or future vaccinations. Others will be coming soon.
Click the links below for more information:
Please note: You can and should sign up with multiple providers. That is perfectly acceptable and may help you get your vaccination quicker. Once you have received a vaccination from a provider, when you receive notice of an available one from a different provider, simply decline it.
REMINDER: WEAR YOUR MASK EVEN AFTER RECEIVING THE COVID-19 VACCINE
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reminding all Michiganders, including those who have already received the vaccine, to continue wearing masks as the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is administered throughout the state.
MDHHS reminds Michiganders to follow these tips when wearing a mask:
Please see the graphic below, to help make the best choices when selecting a face mask.
In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently recommended wearing two masks to increase protection against COVID-19. Double masking is an easy way to improve fit, which also improves protection. The more particles that are blocked, the better you are protected against getting COVID-19. Other options to improve fit include wearing a mask fitter or wearing a nylon covering (like a gaiter) over a mask.
GET COVERED DURING NEW HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT
With a new Health Insurance Marketplace special enrollment period open until May 15, Michigan’s state and federal leaders are encouraging Michiganders to act now to make sure they have quality health coverage for themselves and their families.
The newly created special enrollment period offers coverage beginning on the first day of the month after consumers purchase it. Based on national statistics from last year’s open enrollment period, approximately 90% of people who sign up through the Marketplace are eligible to receive federal subsidies, with approximately 75% of enrollees obtaining high-quality coverage for less than $50 per month.
To review coverage options and enroll, consumers can visit the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).
For more information about health insurance, including a schedule of upcoming virtual health insurance town halls, consumers should visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call 877-999-6442 anytime Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Consumers are eligible to apply for the Healthy Michigan Plan at any time by visiting michigan.gov/MIBridges by calling 855-789-5610.
STAY SAFE DURING BITTER COLD AND SNOW
With snow-covered roads and frigid temperatures, the Michigan State Police is encouraging state residents and visitors to be extra cautious when going outdoors.
To stay safe during cold weather:
Safe winter driving tips:
Michigan weather is unpredictable any time of year, but especially during the winter months. If you are stranded, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.
Motorists are encouraged to check travel conditions and weather reports before driving at Michigan.gov/RoadConditions. Major road closures can be found at Michigan.gov/Drive. Please tune into local news and/or view these websites rather than calling your local State Police post or 911 for travel conditions.
OAKLAND COUNTY TO SEE MORE THAN $6 MILLION IN RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Critical relief totaling approximately $52.5 million for nearly 6,000 small businesses across the state — including more than $6 million alone for Oakland County — has been awarded so far through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Small Business Survival Grant program.
A summary of grants allocated by local economic development organizations are as follows:
To see the full list of businesses that received Survival grants, visit MichiganBusiness.org/Survival.
Approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund on Jan. 14, the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program allocated $55 million to provide support to Michigan small businesses to meet the urgent need of businesses that experienced a significant financial hardship due to COVID-19 emergency “gatherings and face mask orders.” The program allowed for grants of up to $20,000 to be awarded to businesses that are fully closed, with grants of up to $15,000 awarded to businesses that have been partially closed, or otherwise are open and can demonstrate an impact.
In total, the MEDC has now launched 23 COVID-19 relief and recovery programs that have supported 24,460 businesses in the state and helped to retain nearly 200,000 jobs across all 83 counties.
To learn more about MEDC’s COVID-19 response programs and the impact they are having on economic recovery efforts, visit MichiganBusiness.org/COVID19response. Other resources for economic reopening efforts as well as businesses across Michigan struggling with economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus can be found online at MichiganBusiness.org/COVID19.
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