As we continue to track cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, it’s important for us all to continue taking the appropriate precautions to keep everyone safe and to slow the spread of this disease.
Be sure to regularly check Michigan.gov/coronavirus and CDC.gov/coronavirus for the latest information. If you have additional questions about what the state is doing to mitigate the spread of the virus you can call Michigan’s COVID-19 Hotline at (888) 535-6136 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email COVID19@michigan.gov and your questions will be answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-1783 or email at PadmaKuppa@house.mi.gov for questions about this or any other state-level issue.
State Representative, 41st House District
Upcoming Virtual Events
This Friday, I’ll be hosting my next Coffee & Chat virtual event through Facebook Live. Grab a cup of coffee, jump on my Facebook Page (@mireppadmakuppa) and come chat with me from the comfort and safety of your own home! The concerns, health, and safety of Troy and Clawson residents are my number one priority during this time. I understand that you may have questions, and I want to be able to assist in answering as many as I can during these virtual events. I hope to see you then!
When: Friday, Dec. 11, beginning at 6 p.m.
How: Visit my Facebook Page (@mireppadmakuppa)
Extended MDHHS Epidemic Order
On Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a 12-day extension of their epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities, in order to allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan. With tremendously high numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, our emergency and hospital systems continue to be put under significant stress.
The extension allows work that cannot be performed from home to stay open, including manufacturing, construction, and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining, and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still permitted such as retail shopping, public transit, restaurant takeout, personal-care services (ex: by-appointment haircuts), and individualized exercise at gyms with extra spacing between machines.
Under this extension, bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery only. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Casinos, movie theaters, and group exercise classes will be closed. Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, but all other organized sports must be put on pause. Colleges and high schools will continue with remote learning.
Michigan has seen fewer outbreaks associated with elementary and middle schools, and younger children are most in need of in-person instruction. In-person K-8 schooling may continue if it can be done with strong mitigation, including mask requirements, based on discussion between local health and school officials. Childcare also remains open to support working parents.
The teachers, childcare workers, and health care professionals continue to serve on the front lines ensuring support for Michiganders across our state. We must take the extension of this pause seriously, not only for our own loved ones, but for every hero risking their life and the health of their family as we continue to battle this ongoing crisis.
Supporting Local Businesses During the Pandemic
At the end of last month, a few of my Democratic colleagues and I penned a letter urging federal leaders to pass additional and much-needed COVID-19 relief to better help our families, local businesses, and communities stabilize our economy as we continue to battle this pandemic. The CARES Act passed by Congress earlier this year was vital in saving lives, saving businesses, and allowing our state the opportunity to stay afloat. Without an extension of the expiration of these funds past the end of the year or additional financial relief, we risk a severe and prolonged economic crisis impacting every corner of our state.
Right here in Oakland County, we’ve already lost 25 percent of our small businesses, not to mention the 156,000 jobs due to COVID-19. Other counties and communities are experiencing many similar outlooks. We must be proactive about getting families, schools, and businesses the support they need to survive what is expected to be an incredibly difficult winter in our state and beyond. We cannot afford to wait any longer to ensure safety and security for all Michiganders.
For information on an important new opportunity for small businesses in Michigan utilizing remaining CARES Act funding, continue on below to the “Resources” section, or click here.
Upcoming “Lame Duck” Session
As the infamous “Lame Duck” legislative sessions begin, the next few weeks will serve as a time for the House to take up the last pieces of business for the term. The Lame Duck period typically serves as a time to pass wish-list pieces of legislation that are often the most unpopular or controversial, considering this is a time when accountability is unfortunately at its lowest. Last term, Lame Duck spanned over 13 days with votes on more than 300 bills, including the gutted minimum wage and paid sick leave bills. Lame Duck is likely to look a little different this year given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and nearing the third year of Gov. Whitmer’s term. I will continue to share updates on the legislation taken up during this Lame Duck period, and remain incredibly proud and humbled to serve as your voice in Lansing with every vote I take.
Election Certification Process
Despite the global pandemic, we saw record-breaking turnout in our first general election since Prop. 3 has expanded voting accessibility for Michiganders. More than 5.5 million Michiganders cast ballots, including 3.26 million absent voter ballots. Thanks to the diligent efforts of thousands of election workers and volunteers, our state can remain confident in the integrity and fairness of our election processes. In the past month, all 83 of Michigan’s counties certified the result of the general election and the Board of State Canvassers voted to approve the statewide canvas. With the governor sending the sealed copies of election certificates to the electors, they are set to convene in the Michigan Senate Chamber next Monday, Dec. 14 to cast their official Electoral College votes.
Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) recently announced the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative to meet the urgent needs of our state’s small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilizing remaining federal CARES Act funding, a total of $10 million in grant money will be provided statewide.
The grant application will open on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, with up to $15,000 per eligible business available to address urgent working capital needs like payroll expenses, rent or mortgage payments, and utility expenses. Small businesses in the following industries are eligible for this funding:
- Restaurants, bars and other food and beverage service providers
- Travel and tourism destinations including lodging providers
- Live event venues and movie theaters
- Conference and meeting facilities
- Ice skating rinks, indoor water parks and bowling centers
- Gyms and fitness centers
For additional eligibility requirements and more information, click here.
Futures For Frontliners Application Deadline Approaching
In recent months, Michigan announced the launch of the Futures for Frontliners program to provide a tuition-free pathway to higher education or a high school diploma for the essential workers who were working on the frontlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To qualify, an individual must be a Michigan resident and have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for eleven of the thirteen weeks between April and June 2020. Individuals who already have a college degree are not eligible.
For more information and to apply, visit Michigan.gov/Frontliners. Applications are due Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020.
This time of year can be particularly tough on families struggling to put food on the table, and those problems have only been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To apply for food assistance through the state and explore various resources, please visit the MI Bridges website at michigan.gov/mibridges. Resources may also be available by calling 2-1-1 or contacting your local food bank.
Michigan Energy Assistance Program
Jointly administered with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Michigan Energy Assistance Program offers statewide programs that provide energy assistance and self-sufficiency services to eligible low-income households. For more information on this resource, visit their website here.
Additionally, if you are in need of assistance with your electricity or heating bills due to impacts of the coronavirus, click here for additional information.
MI COVID Alert App
MI COVID Alert is a free app for your mobile phone that will help Michiganders 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.