The holiday season is here.
Hanukkah has started, and Christmas and Kwanzaa are two weeks away. I know that many of us are and will be celebrating differently this year, and the safest option is to celebrate with members of your household. However, if you choose to gather with family and friends, please remember to wear a mask and stay safe.
As I reflect on the spirit of the holidays, they are a time of togetherness. A time that we come together and celebrate things that are greater than ourselves. These past few weeks have raised tensions around our state and have pulled us all further apart.
In the spirit of togetherness, I have been speaking with and urging my colleagues to lower the rhetoric and come together. We must do this for the good of ourselves, each other and our nation.
The COVID-19 crisis and other challenges we’ve faced this year have been a defining moment for our community, our state and our country. These may be uncertain times for all of us, but I am confident that we will continue to respond with the same strength, resilience and unity that Michiganders always have.
During this time, my staff and I will not be in our Lansing office regularly. We will be in the 52nd District working to assist you and to advocate for our community’s needs. To reach out, please email me at DonnaLasinski@house.mi.gov.
State Representative, 52nd House District
COVID-19 Michigan Statistics
Michigan’s COVID-19 positive cases and deaths are increasing at a terrifying rate. At this time, Michigan now grimly ranks 8th in the nation for the number of positive COVID-19 cases, and 8th in COVID-19 deaths. You can see our state’s COVID-19 statistics and data here.
State Total Confirmed Cases: 421,137
State Total Deaths: 10,395
State Total Tests: 7,694,906
Washtenaw County Total Confirmed Cases: 10,601
Washtenaw County Total Deaths: 150
One of the ways that we can make sure we contain COVID-19 is by remaining vigilant and making sure that we get tested if we go indoors with groups of other people, especially as cases have begun to rapidly increase in recent weeks.
You can find a testing site here.
Information is changing rapidly. We are working hard to share updates and information as quickly as possible on social media. Please take a moment to like and follow me on Facebook, as this is where information will first be shared.
Our unemployment system needs fixes and reform. It’s outdated and falls short in supporting workers when they lose their jobs.
I introduced HB 4894, which would permanently extend state unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks. HB 4895 would increase the weekly amount of unemployment benefits an individual would receive by adjusting the maximum weekly benefit rate to 58% of the state’s average weekly wage, but not exceed $542.
The system and our state need to be doing everything that we can to help Michiganders and support them when they lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
Senate Bill 431
Thank you all for reaching out about this piece of legislation. I was glad to meet with many constituents from around the district this week who are passionately opposed to Senate Bill 431.
SB 431 would prohibit a local unit of government from preventing, prohibiting, or denying a permit, approval, or other authorization for the mining of natural resources if the natural resources are valuable and very serious consequences would not result from the extraction of the natural resources.
This legislation rightly concerns many as it would strip away local control of approving mining developments. Right now, SB 431 still has not come to the Senate for a vote.
Pause to Save Lives
This week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced a 12-day extension of the pause on certain activities. Public health officials and epidemiologists have stated that the effects of pauses show their benefits after 3-4 weeks. This is why they released their key metrics for what trends and effects are needed.
Our 7 day averages for COVID cases are still reaching record highs and we have the highest daily death counts since April. This pandemic has not gone away. We all came together earlier this year, but now we are in a deadly second wave.
Mask up, wash your hands and avoid public gatherings.
Small Business Relief
Small businesses can apply for the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative starting Dec. 15. This initiative will utilize federal CARES Act funding to award grants of up to $15,000 to small businesses across Michigan.
Save this link and check back here for when the application goes live:
I Want to Hear from You
During this challenging time, I want to hear from you. What do you need? How can we help you? Please, reach out to me at DonnaLasinski@house.mi.gov.
Eviction Diversion Program (EDP)
The Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) is designed to keep Michigan residents who fell behind on their rent during COVID-19 in their homes. The program utilizes a special court process to get fast rental assistance for renters who have been impacted.
Rental assistance in the amount of $50 million is available in the form of lump-sum payments to landlords in exchange for allowing tenants to remain in their homes, forgiving late fees and up to 10% of the amount due.
If you need help affording rent, visit here.
Step Forward Program – Help Affording You Home
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s Step Forward Program provides assistance to Michigan homeowners struggling with their mortgage, condo association fees, and property taxes to retain ownership of their primary residence. Learn more here.
Health Care Coverage
If you have lost your employer-provided health care due to layoffs, reduced hours, or a change in income during the COVID-19 crisis, please remember that you have up to 60 days to enroll in new coverage.
If you have questions, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services can help. Contact DIFS toll free at (877) 999-6442 if you need assistance.
Find if you are eligible for the special enrollment period here.
Apply for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace here.
Governor Whitmer acted to protect workers from retaliation by their employers if they stay home because one of their close contacts has tested positive for COVID-19: click here for post and further information.
The Attorney General’s office has created a website to help you “know your rights” as an employee if you are still required to work during this time. Click here.
You can receive continual updates from the MI Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) by clicking here.
Futures for Frontliners
The Futures for Frontliners program is a tuition-free community college opportunity for front line workers without college degrees. It will also offer essential workers who do not have a high school diploma access to tuition-free programs that prepare students to complete a high school degree or equivalent and to job training to fill jobs in demand.
These essential workers put their health and their lives on the line in hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores, food processes, police and fire, and a myriad of other positions that enabled the rest of us to stay safe.
You can learn more here: www.michigan.gov/frontliners
MI COVID Alert App
MI COVID Alert is a free app for your mobile phone that will help us stay safe and protect each other. This app is easy-to-use and can:
- Alert you if you may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
- Advise you on what to do to protect yourself and others
- Alert other app users that you were in close contact with if you test positive for coronavirus
Contact tracing is a vital part of slowing the spread of the virus; the more people that download and use the app, the more it will help our state’s existing contact tracing operation. The app does this by alerting you that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The app will not disclose the name of the contact or the location of exposure, but it will let you know that you were close enough (within 6 feet) for long enough (15 minutes or more), for there to be a risk that you could have been exposed to the virus. The app will then alert you and advise you on what to do next. Likewise, if you test positive for coronavirus, you can use the app to alert anyone you have been in close contact with.
For more information on how to use the MI COVID Alert app, click here.
For more information regarding the app’s privacy and data policies, click here.
For more information on the importance of downloading and using MI COVID Alert, click here.
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State Representative Donna Lasinski