Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful, including some updates on the state’s efforts to address COVID-19 and its effects on housing, employment and more. In keeping with House Business Office policies, this is the first edition of e-news since our update on Sept. 30.
MDHHS Issues New COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidelines
Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued new COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines. Under these guidelines, employers should only allow in-person work if their employee is physically unable to work remotely. If in-person work is necessary, employers are required to create a COVID-19 preparedness plan, conduct daily screenings of in-person staff, establish clear workplace procedures and collaborate with their local health department. You can read more about the MDHHS COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidelines here.
2.4 Million Michiganders Have Received Flu Vaccine
Millions in Michigan have already received a flu vaccine this season. With a goal of vaccinating 4.2 million Michiganders, the MDHHS has partnered with several organizations to host free flu shot clinics around the state. The Lansing Lugnuts and Meijer will host two free walk-in and drive-in flu shot clinics this week at Jackson Field in downtown Lansing, including one today from noon to 6 p.m. The walk-in clinic is at the stadium concourse and the drive-thru clinic is at the Lansing Center and can be accessed using City Market Drive off Cedar Street.
Gov. Signs Bills to Expand Unemployment Benefits to 26 Weeks
Last month, Gov. Whitmer signed two bills that will extend unemployment benefits for the remainder of the year. Senate Bill 886 expands unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks. This bill also waives the requirement that individuals receiving unemployment must actively seek work if they are temporarily laid off. It allows work-share plans to continue, and it includes COVID-19 related medical reasons as a basis for an employee involuntarily leaving work. Senate Bill 911 allows retired state employees to return to work at the Unemployment Insurance Agency under certain conditions without affecting their retirement benefits. These bills were passed through the legislature earlier this month.
UIA Now Offering Phone Appointments
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is now offering phone appointments for individuals with specific claim issues. Appointments can be made up to one week in advance at Michigan.gov/uia. A customer service agent will call the claimant on the designated day and time they choose from the agency’s customer service line: (866) 500-0017. Appointments can be made to help with claimants who filed the wrong SSN; have an inactive claim; are unable to certify for all weeks needed; need to file a claim, but already have one filed in their name; or do not have the link in MiWAM to file a claim.
Michigan Invests Over $1 Million to Help Those Who Lost Health Insurance During COVID-19
The state of Michigan is investing more than $1 million to contact and help over 1 million residents who may have lost their health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will go to community-based organizations that help individuals enroll in coverage, virtual health insurance education programs, and a targeted advertising campaign aimed at communities most impacted by COVID-19-related job losses.
Frontline Health Care Workers Who Test Positive for COVID-19 Will Receive Workers’ Compensation
Gov. Whitmer signed emergency rules last month to clarify that frontline health care workers and first responders who test positive for COVID-19 will receive workers’ compensation. This applies to workers in hospitals, medical care facilities, emergency medical services, law enforcement, fire safety, and others. These rules are effective immediately and go through March 20, 2021.
Legislature Codifies Content from Many of Gov. Whitmer’s Previous EOs
The governor’s executive orders are no longer effective following an advisory opinion from the Michigan Supreme Court that was issued last month. In response to this, the Michigan House enacted legislation to address COVID-19 and its effects based on the governor’s executive orders.
Here are some highlights of what was passed:
- Senate Bill 886 expands unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks. This bill also waives the requirement that individuals receiving unemployment must actively seek work if they are temporarily laid off. It allows work-share plans to continue, and it includes COVID-19 related medical reasons as a basis for an employee involuntarily leaving work.
- Senate Bill 911 allows retired state employees to return to work at the Unemployment Insurance Agency under certain conditions without affecting their retirement benefits.
- Senate Bill 1108 allows public bodies to meet remotely in certain circumstances, including while a state or local emergency declaration is in effect. It also allows a public body to accommodate a member who cannot attend a meeting in person due to a medical condition.
- Senate Bill 1094 requires that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have facilities to house COVID-19 patients from nursing homes. Regional hubs must provide a detailed report on their operation plans and patient protocols. This bill also requires that nursing homes submit monthly reports on COVID-19 cases and deaths.
- House Bill 6293 allows pharmacists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician’s assistants, and other qualified licensees to perform COVID-19 testing services through June 30, 2021.
- House Bill 6192 extends the validity of vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses that expired after March 1, 2020, but are renewed by Dec. 11, 2020.
- House Bills 6294-6297 allow wills, deeds and other legal documents to be signed and witnessed electronically for the remainder of 2020.
MDHHS Reinstates Capacity Restrictions and Other Rules
Following the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision that effectively undid many of the governor’s executive orders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon issued an order under the Public Health Code. This order restores many of the public health guidelines that were included in the executive orders, including the following:
- Retail stores, libraries, and museums are limited to 50 percent capacity;
- Restaurants and other food service establishments are limited to 50 percent of their normal seating capacity;
- Exercise facilities and recreational sports must maintain six feet between workout stations and are limited to 25 percent capacity;
- Six feet of social distancing is required at professional sports and other entertainment venues;
- Outdoor pools are limited to 50% capacity, and indoor pools are limited to 25% capacity;
- Employees are required to stay home from work for 10 days if they are exhibiting symptoms or have received a positive COVID-19 test and be fever free for 24 hours before returning to work;
- Employers are prohibited from requiring workers to gather with other co-workers in violation of the MDHHS order;
- Daily self-screening protocols are required for all employees or contractors entering a workplace; and
- Businesses, government offices, schools, and other operations are not allowed to hold indoor gatherings unless they require face coverings.
Also important to note is that local health departments, including the Ingham County Health Department, have statutory authority to issue public health orders. You can read the Ingham County Health Department’s orders here.
While legislative offices remain closed to the public, my team is still providing responsive service as they work from home. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (517) 373-0587 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help.