Greetings! My office is excited to be back in Lansing and ready to continue striving toward the goals we set for 2021.
Thank you to everyone who has continued to reach out to our office to share their thoughts on a variety of issues. We have been receiving your calls and emails, and my staff and I are working hard to read, listen and respond to every comment, question or concern.
If we can assist in any way, please do not hesitate to contact our office! My office is reachable by phone at (517) 373-2575, and by email at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
State Representative, 21st District
Proudly serving Belleville, Canton, and Van Buren Township
In this Edition:
UPCOMING TIME WITH RANJEEV
As noted in previous newsletters, due to COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution, we will be meeting virtually for the time being. My office will be exploring options for future meet-ups and town halls, including outdoor, socially-distanced options once weather permits in the Spring. Most importantly though, we will continue to follow all guidance from the CDC and MDHHS and will be excited to meet again in person when it is safe to do so. Please let us know what times work for you!
Virtual Coffee Hour
Monday, May 10, 12-1 p.m.
Live streamed via YouTube and social media. You can visit our social media accounts and watch recordings of previous coffee hours. Please submit any questions by contacting our office.
Voter Suppression Bills Moving in Legislature
A nationwide effort is underway to create barriers to voting and decrease voter access measures that contributed to record turnout across the U.S. in November. Right here in Michigan, Republicans introduced a 39-bill package that would:
The GOP claims these bills make it easier to vote and harder to cheat when in reality they make it harder to vote and address “fraud” that experts say is incredibly rare. Many experts have said these laws are more restrictive than even the laws passed in Georgia recently.
The leaders of three dozen major Michigan companies, including General Motors, Ford, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Quicken Loans, the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Pistons, DTE, Detroit Regional Chamber and more issued a joint statement that denounced voter suppression efforts in Michigan and other states.
It is my belief that our democracy is strongest when we have as many people participate as possible—and have the voices of all Michiganders, regardless of background or belief heard. These laws are more about creating barriers to the ballot box than helping Michiganders recover from the pandemic and getting our economy back on track. We deserve leaders who govern in our interests and make the promise of democracy real for everyone.
I will not stand for this attempt to disenfranchise voters—it is embarrassing and criminal. We should be doing everything we can to expand access to the ballot box, not limit it. As your state representative, I will continue working to expand the right to vote, mobilize and educate people about why it’s important to vote, and lower barriers to voting.
Last week, I attended the Stop Voter Suppression Rally at the Michigan State Capitol. A special thanks to the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP for organizing this important event.
I am thrilled to see so many in our community starting to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This is an exciting and promising time, but we are not out of the woods. It is more important than ever to be diligent and to continue to mask up. Michigan now ranks first in the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita over the last few weeks.
It is so important that we continue to be vigilant and follow all guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and also the CDC. Please be patient. Our supply of vaccinations is increasing, and we are making great progress in getting all eligible Michiganders vaccinated as quickly as possible.
While you wait, stay safe:
As many of us have heard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has initiated a pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine.
In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets. All six cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 38, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.
There has not yet been a definite link made between the blood clot and the vaccine. In addition, the potential rate of blood clotting in reaction to the vaccine is much smaller than the blood clotting rate for cigarette smokers and for women who use hormonal contraception, although the types of blood clots differ.
The CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to review the cases and their potential significance. The FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. The pause on this vaccination comes out of an abundance of caution and allows the CDC to ensure all hospitals are informed of this extremely rare side effect, and to ensure they are aware and prepared for the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.
People who have received the J&J vaccine should notify their doctor if they develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.
The pause of this vaccine is a testament to the process—the CDC and FDA are doing their jobs to ensure that public health and safety is always the number one priority. Pausing the vaccine is a good thing—this is science at work.
We know that many people have valid concerns about side effects and vaccines, so by addressing concerns head on and being transparent, the CDC can get meaningful answers to people. We urge you to talk through any concerns with your health care provider.
Again, the potential side effect of the J&J vaccine was seen in 6 of 6.8 million people. This is extremely rare. Health experts say we should not let it deter us from receiving a COVID-19 vaccination as they are proven to be safe and effective in protecting us and in combating COVID-19.
All residents 16+ are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine!
For those who want one, here are some tips for getting a vaccination appointment:
Here is how to register with a pharmacy:
For hospital systems: To check vaccine availability at your local hospital, Google “COVID vaccine” and the hospital’s name. Most hospitals will require you to create an online account or download an app to get on a waitlist.
Veterans Affairs: Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments go to others based on additional eligibility requirements. Sign up with the VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment.
Ford Field Mass Vaccination: The state and federal governments have set up a mass vaccination clinic at Ford Field in Detroit, where 8,000 people will be vaccinated each day. The site will operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week through mid-May. There are interpreters on-site at Ford Field for 130 different languages.
Sign-up is available through the options below. After the registration process is completed, people who have registered will receive an invitation either by call or text when it’s their turn to schedule the appointment. Vaccine appointments will be scheduled a few days in advance.
For statewide vaccine distribution information, visit the State of Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine website.
Michigan’s Extended Benefits (EB) program will no longer be payable after the week ending April 17, 2021. This is a decision made by the U.S. Department of Labor due to the State of Michigan’s lower unemployment rate. Although EB is no longer payable, workers may still be eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
To access benefits on another program, workers will need to file an additional claim or reopen a previous claim.
To file an additional claim or reopen a claim, log in to your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) after April 18, 2021. Under the Alerts section, click on the Additional Information Required – Click Here to File a UI/PEUC/PUA claim. If you log into MiWAM and do not have the link, under the Claimant Services tab, click Submit Additional Information. Once your claim has been submitted and processed, you will receive a monetary determination detailing your weekly benefit amount, duration of weeks you are entitled to receive benefits and other important information about your claim.
If you find that you are in need of assistance with your unemployment claim, you can contact my office using this form.
Local Park Grant
This funding is an amazing win for our community. The grant will enhance an already beloved amenity and encourage more people to visit and take advantage of all that it offers.
Exceptional Educator Recognition
I wanted to congratulate Kellie Woehlke on our first Exceptional Educator Award. Educators have made sacrifices throughout the pandemic, but Kellie and her husband have both gone above and beyond. It was an honor to present her with the tribute recently. Thank you for your service.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
April Coffee Hour
Thanks to everyone who joined us for our monthly coffee hour last week. Virtual meet-ups provide flexibility and the opportunity to reach more people across different platforms, but I miss being able to see you all face to face and engage in discussion. As vaccinations continue to ramp up, and the weather outside gets nicer, we will be exploring possible opportunities for socially distanced, masked in-person events in the coming months.
Couldn’t make it? You can watch the archive of the coffee hour here.
Vaisakhi Day Virtual Celebration
This past week I had the honor to host the first-ever Virtual Vaisakhi celebration in Michigan. I am blown away by the outpouring of support, participation and excitement behind the event!
The overall message was aligned with the tenets of Sikhism and Vaisakhi of moving to universal equality and peace. In a time when our world is full of turmoil, we must continue to work towards finding ways to come together.
I am committed to being a tireless advocate and leader to uplift all marginalized communities and celebrate the diversity that is Michigan’s greatest strength.
Thank you to the many honorable elected leaders and community members for coming together to participate in this historic event – and most importantly thank you to everyone who was able to tune in.
If you weren’t able to watch the event live you access the archive of the celebration here.
Great Lakes Beacon Q&A
During the recent legislative in-district work period, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Great Lakes Beacon for a live Q&A. Thank you to those that joined and brought their questions. If you missed this event you can listen back here.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
During this challenging time, it is more important than ever to stay in touch. I want to hear from you. What do you need? How can we help you? My office is here to assist you or answer any questions you may have. Please reach out to me at RanjeevPuri@house.mi.gov.
Communications from my office will be available via bi-weekly email updates or social media. Otherwise, please feel free to reach out to our office directly and do not hesitate to reach out for assistance.
I hope that this information has been helpful and that we can be together again soon in person.