In this e-newsletter:
Tragic Loss in Our Community
It is with a heavy heart that I extend my thoughts and prayers to the family of Kalamazoo County Deputy Sheriff Ryan J. Proxmire who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the Kalamazoo County community. We will forever be indebted for his bravery and service. I also offer my condolences to his colleagues at the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s office during this incredibly difficult time. The senseless gun violence in our community must end.
Upcoming Virtual Coffee Hour – Aug. 27
Due to scheduling conflicts, my coffee hour for the month of August will be on Friday, Aug. 27, from 9-10 a.m. This will be a virtual coffee hour. Please note the start time of 9 a.m. I will be providing a legislative update and offering an opportunity for residents of the 60th House District to share their thoughts and perspectives. We will also be joined by Peter Ross Dickow, the West Michigan region director for US Senator Gary Peters, for an update on the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill to invest in Michigan roads, bridges and high-speed internet.
To attend the coffee hour, please use the following link to register by noon on Aug. 26. An access link will be sent to those that register on the afternoon of Aug. 26.
Lead Town Hall Connects Community With Resources
On Aug. 5, I held a town hall concerning lead abatement and various other community resources, and it was an overwhelming success. We had approximately 50 in-person attendees and close to another 50 individuals who watched online. I was honored to be joined by special guest state Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) and a panel of local community and state experts: Matt Milcarek from the Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services Inc.; Dr. Carolyn Whatley, chief medical officer at Family Health Center; Dr. Kathy Jackson, a longtime pediatrician at Family Health Center; James Baker, director of the Public Services Department and city engineer for the city of Kalamazoo; and Carin Speidel from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Lead Services Section.
If you missed the town hall and would like to view it, a recording can be found here.
As a practicing physical therapist, unfortunately, I have seen the devastating effects of lead exposure firsthand, and it’s heartbreaking. Like Flint, we are finding a number of children in Kalamazoo who have lead levels in their blood that can impact their brain development. The main cause in Kalamazoo is our old housing stock which often has lead-based paint. We need a multifaceted approach to this issue that starts with both education and meaningful action.
Thank you to the community groups who tabled with us and distributed valuable resources and information.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has begun to notify claimants who are no longer eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits that overpayments will be waived.
In June, claimants were asked to requalify for PUA by providing the agency with the necessary information to remain eligible for the federal program. Four PUA COVID-19 eligibility reasons that were included at the beginning of the pandemic now no longer qualify. Under federal law, UIA had to re-evaluate PUA eligibility for individuals who selected one of the non-qualifying reasons.
Of the roughly 690,000 claimants that were asked to requalify, about 241,000 responded to the UIA’s request. Waivers will be granted to the initial group of approximately 350,000 non-responses, many of whom may no longer be collecting benefits. Claimants will be notified through their MiWAM account or via U.S. mail.
Claimants can visit www.Michigan.gov/UIA to access their MiWAM account to chat with an agent. They can also contact the UIA by phone at (866) 500-0017 or schedule a telephone, virtual or in-person appointment with an agent.
Governor Whitmer Signs Bills Extending Driver’s Licenses
This legislation extends the expiration of all vehicle registrations, driver licenses and state IDs to 120 days after an original expiration date between March 31 and Aug. 1 of this year, and it waives late fees or refunds them retroactively to residents impacted by pandemic restrictions.
Also, all offices are open to any residents who need in-person services, which they can access by walking up or scheduling their visits online or by phone. More information on how to schedule an appointment can be found here.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant is surging in the U.S., and getting vaccinated is now more urgent than ever. The delta variant is more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus and has the potential to infect more people quicker. It now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to new estimates released by the CDC.
Those who are vaccinated are at low risk for severe complications. However, those who are unvaccinated are at a much higher risk for severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, including the delta variant. Right now, most people admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccines can help end the pandemic. Vaccines are safe and effective and help protect against COVID-19 and variants, including delta. Visit www.kalcounty.com/hcs/covid19vaccine.php for more information about getting vaccinated in Kalamazoo County.
Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the delta variant can spread the virus to others. To reduce their risk of becoming infected with the delta variant and potentially spreading it to others, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people do the following:
Thank You 60th District Service Office Fellows/Interns
The summer has flown by, and last week was the completion of our summer internship program with the 60th District Service Office. Thank you to our two fellows and three interns who helped us knock on about 7,500 doors and had great conversations with our community about how our office can be of service. We are extremely proud of all of your hard work and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.