On Tuesday, March 10, Michigan’s Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency as the state’s first positive cases of COVID-19 (the illness caused by coronavirus) were identified. The emergency declaration enables the state to quickly deploy resources (equipment, supplies and/or personnel) to local jurisdictions to support their response efforts in combatting the spread of COVID-19. The declaration places Michigan at a heightened state of preparedness for response. All Michiganders are encouraged to follow the recommendations from MDHHS and the CDC to protect themselves and slow the spread of COVID-19. More information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus, including:
As of March 19th Kalamazoo County has had 41 individuals tested for COVID-19, but so far, no confirmed cases.. The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department has set up a local hotline for coronavirus-related questions at 269-373-5267, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week. County employees are working hard to provide updated data to the public at https://www.kalcounty.com/hcs/covid19.php.
Senate passes $125M Coronavirus response package
On Tuesday, March 17, the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 4729, a supplemental appropriations bill that provides $125 million in additional state funding to address the growing new Coronavirus outbreak in the state. The funding is broken down as follows:
This $125 million is in addition to $25 million in a separate supplemental bill already on the desk of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Supplemental budget bill
Last week, the legislature passed a $371 million supplemental budget bill that included:
Kalamazoo County is a resilient community, and we stick together in difficult times. Here are just a few ways to get help or connect people you know to resources in a time of need:
Self-isolation information and resources from KPL
Kalamazoo Public Library has gathered a central listing of many resources available in our local community including food, childcare, student learning tools and more.
Dial 2-1-1 for help navigating through available emergency resources.
School districts around Kalamazoo County are continuing to distribute free lunch to students while school buildings are closed. The Kalamazoo Gazette has a round-up here.
Small Business – Administration Loans
Gov. Whitmer is seeking an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration for the state and has begun the process to receive the declaration from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Once granted, small businesses in qualifying areas will be able to access low-interest loans through the SBA. In the interim, small businesses that could benefit from those loans are encouraged to start collecting the information they’ll need to complete and submit their application. That information can be found here.
Small Business – Tax Payments
On March 18th, the Michigan Treasury Department announced that places scheduled to make monthly sales, use and withholding tax payments on March 20th can postpone until April 20th. All penalties and interest will be waived for 30 days.
HELP WITH UTILITIES
If you are having a problem paying your heating or electric bill, Consumers Energy and Indiana Michigan Power (AEP) have developed plans to assist you. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, both companies are suspending all shutoffs for non-payment for low-income customers effective immediately. Consumers Energy customers in the Senior Winter Protection Program will have their end dates automatically extended to May 3rd.
For Consumers Energy customers, if you are unsure if you qualify for a payment assistance plan or have any questions, please call 1-800-477-5050.
Indiana Michigan Power customers in financial distress should call 1-800-311-6424 for guidance.
On Monday, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order to expand unemployment benefits to:
In addition, the state is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance. Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended as follows:
Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA or call 1-866-500-0017.
POSTPONEMENT OF PUBLIC EVENTS & OFFICE CLOSURES
In response to the spread of coronavirus and out of an abundance of caution to protect public health, my legislative office locations will be closed through at least April 5th, and staff will be working remotely to assist constituents. I will also not be conducting public events during this time, so my coffee hour that had been scheduled for March 27th has been canceled. We are working hard to liaison with state departments to help answer questions you have about the state’s disaster response. You can still contact me and make your voice heard.
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