Although these past few weeks have been difficult, the Stay Home, Stay Safe order has helped our state flatten the curve and turn the tide on this pandemic. Our work isn’t over yet, which is why Gov. Whitmer announced today that she is extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe order until May 15 — with some important changes. You’ll find more information below.
Allowing Low-Risk Activities
Gov. Whitmer’s order allows low-risk in-person activities to resume, including:
- Lawn care, pest control, landscaping operations, and working at nurseries and garden stores with enhanced social distancing rules;
- Processing and fulfilling remote orders for delivery or curbside pick-up;
- Performing bicycle maintenance and repair;
- Maintenance and groundskeepers to maintain the safety and sanitation of places of outdoor recreation;
- Moving or storage operations with enhanced social distancing rules; and
- Outdoor recreation, including boating and golfing.
Enhanced Social Distancing for Low-Risk Activities
We still need to do our best to keep those engaged in these low-risk activities safe, that’s why the order requires these activities to:
- Prohibit gatherings of any size in which people cannot maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from each other;
- Prohibit workers from occupying the same vehicle at the same time;
- Limit in-person contact with clients as fully as possible;
- Provide personal protective equipment like gloves, goggles, face shields and masks as appropriate; and
- Adopt protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment as much as possible and ensure frequent and thorough cleaning of these tools, equipment and frequently touched surfaces.
Access to Elective Procedures
All hospitals, freestanding surgical outpatient facilities, dental facilities and state-operated outpatient facilities may perform elective procedures that are necessary to preserve the health and safety of a patient, determined by their licensed medical provider.
Staying Safe in Public
To keep Michiganders safe and prevent another spike of COVID-19 as we begin the transition back into public spaces, Gov. Whitmer’s order requires:
- Any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering, to wear one – including homemade masks, scarfs, or bandanas – when in any enclosed public space.
- All businesses or operations whose workers perform in-person work to provide, at minimum, non-medical grade face coverings to their employees.
- Supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks to be reserved as much as possible for health care professionals, first responders and other critical workers who interact with the public.
COVID-19 represents one of the greatest challenges Michigan has faced in our recent history, leaving thousands of Michigan workers displaced or out of work. We are doing everything we can to ensure that every Michigander can stay on their feet as we fight the spread of this virus. Michigan is temporarily expanding unemployment benefit eligibility to those affected by COVID-19. This includes:
- Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, like child care due to school closures or caring for a loved one who is ill;
- Workers who are sick, quarantined or immunocompromised, and do not have access to paid leave time or are laid off; and
- First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined.
- Self-employed workers, gig workers, low-wage workers, and 1099-independent contractors are now eligible for Michigan’s unemployment programs. All eligible workers will now be provided a set amount of $600 on top of the state benefit for up to 39 weeks.
Benefits will also be extended from 20 to 39 weeks, the application eligibility period would be increased from 14 to 28 days, and the normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.
For more information, CLICK HERE.
Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities
Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2020-55 creating the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color throughout our state. While African Americans represent 13.6 percent of Michigan’s population, they represent a staggering 40 percent of the deaths from COVID-19. The task force will act in an advisory capacity to the governor and study the causes of racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19 and recommend actions to immediately address such disparities and the historical and systemic inequities that underlie them.
The inequities which led to these outcomes didn’t appear overnight with the emergence of this virus. Our laws may have changed, but the echoes of racial discrimination, segregation and redlining continue to be felt strongly to this day. Gov. Whitmer’s task force gives us the opportunity to begin undoing the damage that began so many years ago.
Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority Receives Federal Grants
As evidence mounts that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking an emotional toll on Michiganders, help is on the way in the form of two federal grants to improve mental health services across the state, including at the Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority.
One grant was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The other was awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in partnership with SAMHSA, with funds distributed through the Michigan State Police. Together, the two grants provide nearly $2.5 million to better address mental health needs during the COVID-19 disaster.
MDHHS Launches Large-scale, Volunteer Contact Tracing Effort
As part of efforts to continue expanding COVID-19 testing and contact tracing of potentially exposed Michiganders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) again expanded its testing criteria to include all essential workers still reporting to work in person, whether they have symptoms or not and launched a large-scale effort with more than 2,000 volunteers to expand contact tracing capacity.
Contact tracing is a proven public health strategy that involves identifying those affected by COVID-19 and interviewing friends, families and others near that person about their contacts and symptoms. More than 2,200 volunteers have completed MDHHS’ contact tracing training and are ready to begin aiding local health departments. This workforce will increase the speed and thoroughness of contact tracing statewide. These volunteers are in addition to more than 130 MDHHS staff who have been assisting local health departments with case investigation over the past couple weeks and have reached more than 12,000 COVID-positive individuals.
Dedicating additional resources to contact tracing is needed as testing criteria and testing locations are rapidly expanding. Last week, MDHHS announced the expansion of testing to all Michiganders experiencing symptoms. Starting April 21, testing eligibility criteria is being expanded again to include all essential workers still reporting to work in person with potential COVID-19 exposure, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic. This will help identify asymptomatic cases who may still be spreading the virus as they report to work.
To sign up to volunteer for public health efforts, visit Michigan.gov/fightcovid19. To locate a testing site near you, visit Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest.
State Representative, 95th House District