This week, University of Michigan and Michigan State basketball coaches teamed up to urge Michiganders to #MaskUpMichigan. In a press conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, along with MSU basketball coaches Tom Izzo and Suzy Merchant, and University of Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico, announced their new campaign aimed at uniting Michiganders by promoting the importance of wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. When it comes to this virus, we are all on the same team, so please, mask up!
When I serve, I wear a mask. Masks aren’t political; we wear them to protect others, and you should too.
REMINDER: Last week, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-147, which reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces. Most significantly, the order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions. Governors in the states of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses.
ICYMI: WATCH MY UIA DISCUSSION WITH PROFESSOR RACHAEL KOHL
When the Republicans changed the unemployment laws in 2013, they created one of the most restrictive unemployment programs in the entire country. Recently, I had a discussion with Professor Rachael Kohl, leader of the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, about some problems and solutions with Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency. The program works pro-bono and represents 200-300 Michiganders a year who have been wrongfully denied unemployment benefits.
BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS CAN APPLY FOR SMALL BUSINESS RESTART PROGRAM
As of Wednesday, July 15, Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits working to recover from the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus can now apply for grants of up to $20,000 through the Michigan Small Business Restart Program. The program will provide $100 million in economic assistance to Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits and, in turn, help support workers and their families facing economic uncertainty during the outbreak. Information on how to apply, as well as eligibility criteria and program guidelines are available at michiganbusiness.org/restart.
Approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund on July 7, the Michigan Small Business Restart Program allocates $100 million of federal CARES Act funding to provide support to Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits that are reopening and have experienced a loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The funding will be distributed across 15 local or nonprofit economic development organizations (EDOs) covering all 83 counties in the state for grants up to $20,000 to support certain small businesses and nonprofits that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
The Michigan Small Business Restart Program application period will be live through Wednesday, August 5 at michiganbusiness.org/restart and all applications received during that three-week period will receive consideration; grants will be awarded after the close of the application period based on criteria that are defined by the EDOs. Funds can be used as working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses.
Need more info? The MEDC has also developed a FAQ for Michigan businesses and communities at michiganbusiness.org/covid19-faq.
EMERGENCY DECLARATION EXTENDED AMID RISING COVID-19 CASES
On Tuesday, July 14, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-151that extends the emergency and disaster declaration until August 11. Every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new COVID-19 cases over the past three weeks.
The health, economic, and social harms of the COVID-19 pandemic remain widespread and severe, and they continue to constitute a statewide emergency and disaster. Though local health departments have some limited capacity to respond to cases as they arise within their jurisdictions, state emergency operations are necessary to bring this pandemic under control in Michigan and to build and maintain infrastructure to stop the spread of COVID-19, trace infections, and quickly direct additional resources to hot-spots as they emerge.
ADDITIONAL FOOD ASSISTANCE EXTENDED THROUGH JULY
On Tuesday, July 14, Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced that approximately 350,000 Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits during the month of July as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan previously approved the additional food assistance for March through June – and now that is being extended for the month of July with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.
Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card by July 30, with payments beginning for some households on July 20. Additional benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.
Nearly 1.5 million people in Michigan receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program.
The list below details the maximum allowable benefit for SNAP customers based on their respective household size:
Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to www.michigan.gov/MIBridges a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.
Customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, blind, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.
MICHIGAN BUSINESSES PROVIDED TOOLKIT TO HELP WORKPLACES STAY SAFE
To further protect workers and the community, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-147 reiterates that businesses who are open to the public must refuse entry and service to individuals who fail to comply with wearing a face covering.
Under the governor’s order, businesses must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside – to assist employers with this requirement, a print-ready poster that businesses may use is available online. LEO and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) have a set of online resources at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety that provides guidelines, posters for employees and customers, factsheets, educational videos and a reopening checklist to keep workplaces safe.
Anyone with questions regarding workplace safety and health may contact MIOSHA using the new hotline at 855-SAFE-C19 (855-723-3219).
PROTECTIONS FOR NURSING HOME, VULNERABLE RESIDENTS EXTENDED
On Monday, July 13, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Orders 2020-148 and 2020-149, extending COVID-19 adaptation in long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff, and extending existing safety measures, including two hours per week of reserved shopping time for vulnerable populations, to protect consumers and employees at grocery stores and pharmacies.
Executive Order 2020-148 maintains the strong infection control protocols in nursing homes and protects residents from eviction and employees from discriminatory action for staying home when exhibiting symptoms. Under the order, a long-term care facility is required to take specific precautions when a resident exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 — including informing employees of the facility. The order also requires nursing homes to use reasonable efforts to create dedicated units for residents affected by COVID-19, and that the units must provide adequate PPE to the direct care employees responsible for staffing them. This order extends through August 10, 2020.
Executive Order 2020-149, which continues through August 10, extends the following health and safety rules for grocery stores and pharmacies, among others:
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