May 21, 2021
I hope this newsletter finds you and your families safe, healthy, and taking advantage of the beautiful Michigan summer that’s on its way. All of us are excited to return to activities that take us outside or visiting many of our state’s lakes and shorelines. As we continue our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to thank all of you for your patience and help in protecting the health and safety of our communities.
In this edition of my most recent e-newsletter, you’ll find information regarding free mental health screenings during Mental Health Awareness Month, as well as updates on the state budget process, consumer scam alerts, and information on how to lower the cost of your high-speed internet.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 517-373-8360, or email me if you have any questions or need assistance.
Easterseals Michigan, an organization dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, has announced that as part of their Mental Health Matters Campaign, they will be providing free mental health screening services. These quick, two-minute screenings will help individuals identify whether they should seek further assistance from behavioral health professionals.
Currently, 2,000 screenings have been conducted with the goal of completing 5,000. For more information, or if you have further questions about what the process entails or to take the screening, visit their website.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reissuing a consumer alert on robocalls after the Department received complaints related to calls impersonating Amazon customer service. Michiganders should scrutinize calls alerting them to suspicious activity on their Amazon account and avoid giving out personal information if they receive one.
How to spot the “Amazon Scam”:
Amazon investigates these complaints and will take action, if warranted.
On Friday, May 14, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated the Gatherings and Mask Order to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on face coverings. The new recommendations took effect Saturday, May 15 at 9 AM.
Under the updated MDHHS Gatherings and Mask Order, Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. While indoors, fully vaccinated Michiganders will no longer need to wear a mask, but residents who are not vaccinated, or who have not completed their vaccinations, are encouraged to continue to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is recommending that providers begin vaccinating adolescents 12 to 15 years of age following a May 12 vote by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices supporting that recommendation.
Minors ages 12 to 17 will need a parent or legal guardian to provide written consent for COVID-19 vaccination. As with any vaccination for adolescents, it is recommended that adolescents have eaten and are well hydrated prior to their vaccination. More information is available in Teens and COVID-19 Vaccines.
The Pfizer vaccine is administered as a series of two doses, 21 days apart, following the same dosage and dosing regimen for those 16 years of age and older. The most reported effects in the adolescent clinical trial participants were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain. According the CDC if side effects due occur, they usually subside within a few days. Except for pain at the injection site, more adolescents reported these expected effects after the second dose than after the first one.
Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine.
The Senate began its process of moving budgets for state departments last week, although we are still early in the budget process. The state House is also moving their proposals in separate bills. The governor will then come to a consensus with legislative leaders and a final budget will be passed after negotiations have been agreed upon.
To this point, though, Senate leadership has decreased has decreased more than $700 million from the Governor’s initial recommendations for our state budget back in February — including cuts to:
My Senate Democratic colleagues and I repeatedly offered amendments to restore funding on these and other initiatives to levels proposed by the governor, whose budget recommendations had prioritized increases for K-12 education, infrastructure repair, continued wage increases for direct-care workers, and childcare assistance, among other initiatives. They were repeatedly denied.
We’ll keep working for the issues that matter most to our communities, because we know how difficult it has been for so many people to put food on the table, pay their bills, and keep their head above water. Community matters, and we won’t stop until everyone knows that.
Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II and the Connecting Michigan Taskforce are encouraging Michigan families to sign up for a new federal program to help lower the cost of high-speed internet service, which began enrolling participants on Wednesday, May 12.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new program from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is making $3.2 billion available nationwide for eligible households to receive discounts of up to $50 per month on internet service, or up to $75 per month for qualifying households on Tribal lands. In addition, some internet service providers will also provide a one-time $100 discount toward the purchase of a computer, laptop or tablet. Consumers receiving the discount are required to make a co-payment of more than $10 and less than $50.
As of May 12, 2021, eligible households can enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) at GetEmergencyBroadband.org. Mail-in applications will also be available. Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at FCC.gov/BroadbandBenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week.
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program
A $300 stipend for internet service is currently available for residential tenants in Michigan through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s (MSHDA) COVID Emergency Rental Assistance or CERA program. Michigan households can visit MSHDA’s CERA program website to learn more about program eligibility guidelines and how to apply for assistance through MSHDA’s application portal.
Those having financial difficulty obtaining telephone or broadband service may also qualify for the Lifeline discount program through participating providers. Those who already participate in Lifeline programs may also participate in the broadband benefit program.
Wi-Fi Hotspot Map
The Michigan Public Service Commission, in partnership with other State of Michigan agencies and Connected Nation Michigan, released a publicly available statewide Wi-Fi hotspot map to assist residents who currently lack internet access at home.
On Wednesday, May 19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Blueprint for Comprehensive Student Recovery. This guidance is intended to help districts and schools create recovery plans that provide every Michigan student with the resources they need to thrive post-pandemic.
The Blueprint provides evidence-based recommendations to address challenges across wellness, academics, school culture and climate, family and community engagement and postsecondary education.
On Feb. 4, 2021 the governor announced a group of cross-sector experts representing education, health, and community leaders to serve on the Student Recovery Advisory Council. The council is chaired by Superintendent Kevin Polston, and includes school leaders, educators, public health practitioners, pediatricians, school board members, community and philanthropic leaders, legislators, parents, and students. It was created to identify the critical issues facing students and staff that must be addressed and to build resources to help local education leaders in developing and implementing a comprehensive recovery plan that is multi-year, evidence-based, and equity-driven.
To view the governor’s Blueprint Print for Comprehensive Student Recovery, visit Michigan.gov/StudentRecovery.
Hepatitis Awareness Month
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed May as Hepatitis Awareness Month to encourage Michiganders to get tested for hepatitis C (HCV). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends universal hepatitis C testing among all adults ages 18 years and older, and among all women during every pregnancy.
More than 100,000 Michiganders are known to be infected with hepatitis C, but national estimates indicate that only 50% of persons impacted by the virus have been tested and are aware of their infection, suggesting that the prevalence of HCV in Michigan could be upwards of 200,000. There is no vaccine for HCV, but there are medications that can cure HCV infection in eight to 12 weeks.
Early detection, linkage to care and treatment are key to identifying current HCV infection and slowing disease progression and liver damage. Identification of persons living with hepatitis C will be critical to achieving hepatitis C elimination. Contact your local health department or primary care provider to get tested.
May 16-22 is Michigan EMS Recognition Week
As a thank you to the emergency medical service personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed May 16-22 as Michigan EMS Recognition Week.
Michigan EMS providers stand ready to help residents in any type of emergency, completely focused on saving the lives of others. Their efforts help improve the survival and recovery rates of people who experience sudden illness or injury.
EMS fills critical health care gaps by providing important out-of-hospital care, including preventative medicine, follow-up care and access to telemedicine. EMS agencies have played an essential role during the pandemic, reducing hospital stays by treating COVID-19 patients at home when possible.
Michigan is home to 28,820 EMS providers, 812 life support agencies and more than 3,867 licensed life support vehicles, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/EMS.
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