We are learning more about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with every passing hour, and I know it can be hard to keep up or find reliable information. I am here for you. As this situation continues to develop, the governor and the state legislature are taking unprecedented actions to protect public health. In this e-news, we provide links to information about actions the state has taken and how to stay in touch with my office during this time of limited in-person interaction. While I always enjoy meeting with constituents at coffee hours and in the community, keeping you and your loved ones healthy and safe is the most important consideration for now.
I’d also like to take a moment to thank the dedicated first responders, hospital workers, public health professionals, educators, businesses, nonprofits, and state and local officials and staff working to make sure everything is operating as effectively as possible to implement this response. I hope all residents of our state will recognize their commitment to our communities and the risks they — and their families — are taking on our behalf.
As we observe the recommended precautions, I urge you to look out for your friends and neighbors and be patient with one another, as this is sure to be a very challenging time for our state.
IN THIS EDITION
What is COVID-19?
The novel coronavirus is a coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the same as others that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness like the common cold.
So far, we know the virus causing COVID-19 is spreading by person-to-person contact, meaning someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home – depending on how sick they are – until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
Measures Taken by State Government
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued 13 Executive Orders relative to the COVID-19 outbreak to date:
The Whitmer Administration continues to act daily as more information and data on COVID-19 becomes available. For day-by-day updates, please follow the state’s COVID-19 page at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.
This week, the state legislature approved $125 million, in addition to $25 million already appropriated, in funding for our COVID-19 response:
These funds give state leaders additional resources to meet health care and economic needs.
The legislature is scheduled to be back in session on March 25th to continue its work to address this pandemic. One important question I would like to see resolved is what remains of the school year. Students, parents, and teachers all deserve answers, and we shouldn’t wait any longer to provide them with clarity on the future.
Many of you have reached out to express your frustration with this lack of expedient response, and I share your concerns. I will continue to seek answers for educators and families as we learn more every day about the implications of this crisis.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Available Resources
Are you a constituent?
To keep you and our staff healthy, we are working remotely until further notice. Please call and email our office as you normally would, and we will do our best to avoid interruption of service. You can call (517) 373-1801 or email SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov.
Are you a small business owner?
Disaster Loan Assistance for Michigan Small Businesses:
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) – Working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
What about health and testing?
If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has launched several platforms to keep you up to date on the latest information:
Información sobre el coronavirus y cómo hacerse una prueba está disponible en español.
What about unemployment or being laid off?
Unemployment benefits have been expanded for now and is available to:
If you need to apply for unemployment in Michigan, you can visit the state’s website to file a claim by clicking here.
What about school closures and food needs?
Due to businesses being closed, and hours being shortened, some families may not have enough food or resources for the coming weeks.
To ensure children are still getting nutritious meals, school districts throughout the state are setting up food distribution sites. Private businesses and neighbors are chipping in with food, internet service and cash, too. To find locations near you, click here.
What if I can’t pay my utilities?
Energy companies like Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are suspending shutoffs in wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Comcast and AT&T are making changes to internet access and hookups. In some cases, you may even be eligible for temporary free internet service.
Community Event Cancellations
Each month, my team and I host informal events where you can share your thoughts and concerns about issues affecting our district, and where you also can hear about the latest from the Michigan Legislature. Unfortunately, due to the severity and concern of the COVID-19 pandemic, I will be canceling these meetings until further notice. These include the following:
Friday, March 27 – Coffee and Conversation with Senator Winnie Brinks, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at Fat Boy Burgers, 2450 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Friday, April 17 – Coffee and Conversation with Senator Brinks, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Center for Community Transformation, 1530 Madison Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507
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