Here is some information that I hope you will find helpful as we all do what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is an uncertain time, but having accurate information and reliable resources can help alleviate some anxiety.
Stay Safe, Stay at Home
As you no doubt know by now, Michigan is currently under Gov. Whitmer’s “Stay Safe, Stay at Home” order. The order took effect on Tuesday, March 24, at 12 a.m., and it will continue for at least three weeks. During this time, individuals, businesses, and other operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life are suspended.
You can go out to get groceries, medications, or gas for your car. You can seek medical care for yourself or a member of your household, and you can seek veterinary care for your animal. You can also go out for a walk or bike ride.
If you need to go out, remember to protect yourself and others by doing the following:
- Stay 6 feet away from others.
- Wash your hands often and well. Use soap and warm water. Lather for at least 20 seconds. If you cannot wash your hands, use sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover coughs and sneezes appropriately.
For more guidance on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19, visit the CDC website.
What to Do if You Think You Might Have the Virus
If you are concerned that you may have contracted COVID-19, call your health care provider first. Unless you are directed to do so, do NOT go directly to the doctor’s office or the emergency room. If you do not have a doctor, call your local urgent care, the Ingham County Health Department at (517) 887-4517, or the state COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136.
At this time, you will not be tested unless you show symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. The Michigan Medicaid Program and most insurers will not charge any out-of-pocket costs for testing.
It’s still important to take preventative measures to keep yourself and others healthy and to slow the spread of the virus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wipe down surfaces daily, including your phone.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact, especially with people who are sick.
- Practice safe social distancing and avoid large gatherings. Stay home if you can!
Resources for Kids, Families, and Seniors
Use the Michigan Department of Education’s website to find free meals while schools are closed.
To find a food bank or other food distribution service near you, call the United Way at 211 or 866-561-2500.
Assistance for Seniors
If you are a senior living in Ingham, Eaton, or Clinton County, you can contact the Tri-County Office on Aging at 517-887-1440 or online here. They can help connect you with Meals on Wheels and other services.
Lansing Bureau of Water and Light (BWL) has suspended all electric and water shutoffs until further notice. Call BWL or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a payment plan before you fall behind.
Consumers Energy has suspended shutoffs for non-payment for low-income and senior customers through April 5, 2020. Call Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 to find out if you are eligible for flexible payments or for any other assistance.
DTE Energy has suspended shutoffs for non-payment for low-income customers through April 5, 2020. Call DTE Energy at 800-477-4747 to find out if you are eligible for payment assistance.
State Tax Foreclosure Deadline Extended
By executive order, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended the deadline for Michigan residents to pay back taxes and avoid foreclosure on their property during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The new deadline is May 29, 2020, or 30 days after the state of emergency declaration is terminated, whichever comes first.
Federal Tax Filing Extension for Most Taxpayers
The U.S. Treasury Department announced it will give people who owe $1 million or less, and corporations that owe $10 million or less, an additional 90 days to pay their 2019 federal income taxes without penalties or interest. You still must file your taxes by April 15. Refunds will be issued on time. For more information, visit the IRS website here.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Under Gov. Whitmer’s executive order, unemployment benefits will be extended to:
- Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who must care for loved ones who become ill.
- Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or who are laid off.
- First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.
- Workers laid off with an expectation of returning to work or who suffer a reduction in work hours due to the COVID-19 business closures.
The duration of time an individual can receive unemployment benefits has been extended from 20 weeks to 26 weeks.
There are two ways to file a new claim or reopen an existing claim:
- Visit michigan.gov/uia and sign into MILogin to access or create an account on the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM).
- Call 1-866-500-0017. TTY service is available for the hearing impaired at 1-866-366- 0004.
You can read the instructions for filing and receiving unemployment benefits here.
Resources for Small Businesses
Temporary Tax Relief
The Michigan Department of Treasury will grant small businesses that have experienced disrupted operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic additional time to make their sales, use, and withholding tax monthly payments. Effective immediately, small businesses scheduled to make their monthly sales, use, and withholding tax payments on March 20 can postpone filing and payment requirements until April 20. The state will waive all penalties and interest for 30 days. The waiver is not available for accelerated sales, use, or withholding tax filers. For more information, call the Treasury Business Tax Call Center at (517) 636-6925.
Loans for Small Businesses
Congress passed legislation that makes $1 billion available to the Small Business Association (SBA) to provide low-interest loans to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once granted, an SBA Economic Injury Disaster declaration will make disaster loans of up to $2 million available to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
In the meantime, small businesses that could benefit from SBA loans are encouraged to start collecting the information they’ll need to complete and submit their application.
Examples of the information you will need can be found here.
For additional information or to obtain help preparing the loan application before the declaration is issued, please contact the Michigan SBA offices in Detroit or Grand Rapids at https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/mi/detroit
The Michigan Small Business Development Center can also provide resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Visit their website for additional information.
Other State Services, Resources, and Responses
COVID-19 Response Funding
The Legislature has approved $150 million to help fund the state’s response to COVID-19. These funds will pay for testing and monitoring as well as expanding care capacity for COVID-19 patients.
Disaster Relief Child Care Centers for Essential Workers
Under the governor’s executive order, employers with essential workers (health care workers, first responders, etc.) can operate a disaster relief child care center for their employees. Additionally, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will be allowed to issue provisional licenses to expand the capacity for child care services. Public and nonpublic schools will house these child care centers.
Fighting Price Gouging
You can submit a complaint about price gouging with Attorney General Dana Nessel by calling 877-765-8388 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by visiting the Attorney General’s website.
Under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, businesses that price gouge and that subsequently fail to comply with the Attorney General’s cease and desist order could face legal action and pay damages up to $25,000. Additionally, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order that makes certain price-gouging behaviors criminal misdemeanors, which can be prosecuted under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.
Secretary of State
- All SOS visits are now by appointment only and will be limited to critical transactions: driver’s license renewals, title transfers regardless of type, and testing for an original CDL, chauffeur’s, mechanic, or recreational license. Appointments should be made far in advance at gov/SOSAppointments or 888-SOS-MICH.
- You can complete many Secretary of State services online at com.
- Renew vehicle registrations at self-service stations. To find one near you, visit gov/SOSSelfService.
- All late fees have been suspended.
- Law enforcement and courts have been asked to not penalize expired tags or licenses through April 6.
For Health-Related Questions
Call the state hotline at 888-535-6136 (open 7 every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or the Ingham County Health Department COVID-19 response line at (517) 887-4517.
You can sign up for regular COVID-19 updates from the state Department of Health and Human Services here.
Have your question answered by email here: COVID19@michigan.gov.
As we all continue to deal with the pandemic’s effects on the health and welfare of our communities, I will continue to provide up-to-date information for you and your family. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, my team and I are working from our homes. But we still strive to provide responsive service, so please don’t hesitate to contact us at (517) 373-0587 or by email at email@example.com.
67th House District