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On March 19, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its Gatherings and Mask epidemic order, allowing up to 20% capacity in outdoor stadiums and arenas that establish infection control plans. The update also increases testing for youth ages 13-19 to ensure athletes can safely participate in sports. The changes are designed to balance day-to-day activities while controlling the spread of COVID-19 and saving Michiganders’ lives. Although progress has been made, it is crucial that Michiganders continue to mask up and socially distance as we take steps to get back to normal. The changes to the Order go into effect Monday, March 22, and remain in effect through Monday, April 19. Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about the March 19 epidemic order.
Gatherings at outdoor stadiums and arenas are increased to 20% of the venue’s capacity if the site:
The Order also increases weekly testing for youth athletes ages 13-19 to safely participate in sports. More information on the program is available here. A list of frequently asked questions about the program is available here.
And, to ensure consistency with recently issued CDC guidance, fully vaccinated individuals may now participate in residential gatherings with other fully vaccinated individuals without wearing a mask.
With all residents at skilled nursing homes having been offered their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and a vast majority having had their second dose, the Residential Care Facilities Order goes into effect immediately. The order encourages communal dining and group activities for residents and allows indoor and outdoor visitation in all counties regardless of county risk level. Visitation is allowed as long as the facility has not had a new COVID-19 case in the last 14 days and all indoor visitors ages 13 and older are subject to rapid antigen testing. Testing will help keep residents, staff and families safe while allowing for visitation and an increased quality of life for residents. Adult foster care homes licensed for 12 or fewer residents, hospice facilities, substance use disorder residential facilities and assisted-living facilities are encouraged to implement visitor and staff testing protocols.
Visitors will be required to wear face masks or other personal protective equipment when required by the facility at all times. In general, visitors will need to maintain six feet from residents.
Masking right includes wearing one of three options of masks that provide stronger protection: three-layered washable cloth face coverings, medical-grade disposable masks, or approved KN95 masks. It also includes wearing the approved mask correctly and having it secured over the nose and face, snugly fitting without gaps. Bandanas, gaiters, and face shields without masks do not provide adequate protection for the wearer or others and are not recommended. For a list of Frequently Asked Questions on face coverings, click here.
Residents in need of masks can pick one up from partner sites across the state, which includes most MDHHS local offices and Community Action Agencies. Find a distribution site at Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan or call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136.
On March 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) officials announced the state is expanding vaccination eligibility for Michiganders ages 16 and older with disabilities or medical conditions that put them at high risk of negative COVID-19 outcome beginning Monday, March 22. The state is also announcing that beginning Monday, April 5, all Michiganders aged 16 and up, who were not previously eligible, will be eligible to receive a vaccine.
Here’s the current COVID-19 vaccine eligibility timeline:
Monday, March 8
Monday, March 22
Monday, April 5
With the expanded vaccine eligibility, providers are still encouraged to schedule appointments and allocate vaccinations to residents based on highest risk, including older residents, essential workers, and frontline workers. The most recent vaccine prioritization guidelines can be found online at Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine.
Medical conditions that place individuals at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 are eligible for vaccination and include:
The following medical conditions might place an individual at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, and are therefore also eligible for vaccination:
Those eligible to receive a vaccine should:
It is important to note that, while supplies are increasing, there remains a limited amount of vaccine available, so there may be a waitlist for available appointments. As more vaccine becomes available, the state will continue to move more quickly through the priority groups.
For more information on Ingham County’s vaccination plan, click here.
A COVID-19 stimulus bill signed into law by President Biden continues federal unemployment insurance programs which were set to expire on March 13, 2021.
Individuals with claims of any type should continue to certify as usual. Most claimants will not experience a gap in benefits as long as they remain eligible and continue to certify.
Unemployment provisions under the federal American Rescue Plan are extended from March 13 – Sept. 4, 2021:
The relief package also includes the extension of 100% federal financing for the use of the Work Share program.
Expanded PUA eligibility available:
In late February, the U.S. Dept. of Labor issued guidance expanding PUA eligibility to include three COVID-19 related reasons under which an individual may self-certify. The additional reasons address circumstances when an individual is directly affected by COVID-19 including:
The additional eligibility provisions apply retroactively to the beginning of the PUA program for those who filed before Dec. 27, 2020. For those who filed after Dec. 27, it is retroactive to Dec. 6, 2020.
Claimants who were previously denied PUA benefits will be notified with details on the new provisions and how to reapply for PUA benefits.
The 1099-G “Certain Government Payments” is the form used to report a claimant’s unemployment compensation received for a specific tax year. The IRS has strongly advised states that withholding 1099s, even on fraudulent claims, is not recommended and significant fines and penalties could be imposed.
The best course of action for individuals who are victims of identity theft is to go to www.michigan.gov/uia and Report Identity Theft – if they have not done so already. It is very important that victims fill out as much information as possible, and also complete the Statement of Identity Theft (Form 6349) which is a hyperlink when they report identity theft. Victims should refrain from submitting more than one Identity Theft report.
If you did not file or collect unemployment benefits this year and you have not already reported the fraud:
Report it to the UIA at michigan.gov/uia. Click on “Report Identity Theft” and include as much detail as possible. Also, submit a completed version of Form UIA 6349, Statement of Identity Theft, with your report. UIA will investigate your report regarding identity theft. Once identity theft is confirmed, UIA will issue a corrected 1099-G to you and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
If you already filed the report on the UIA website and you are indeed a victim of a fraudulent claim, you can disregard additional letters including penalty letters you may be receiving. We have been advised that those are system generated letters and will not be acted upon until a full review of the case has been completed.
Unfortunately, due to the backlog of fraudulent cases, it will take some time before each case is reviewed. Upon resolution, victims will receive a null and void determination letter at their current address provided in the report they submitted. If you have already completed the reporting process, nothing else needs to be done at this time.
As part of the process of reviewing fraudulent claims, the State also needs to generate a new 1099-G and mail it to the current, physical address of the victim, which is why providing as much information as possible and filling out the Statement of Identity Theft (Form 6349) is so critical and important. For more information on 1099-G Tax forms including FAQs, click here.
If you need further assistance with your claim or with the 1099 concerns, please contact my office by filling out this form.
Unemployment claimants can schedule a phone appointment with an agent here up to one week in advance for the following issues:
To make financial, material and in-kind donations, contact the Michigan Community Service Commission at COVID19donations@michigan.gov or 517-335-4295.
For businesses seeking to sell state requested protective gear, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all other businesses needs related to procurement and/or supplier capabilities: https://pmbc.connect.space/covid19/forms.
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