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 is important as we prepare to reopen our economy while safely adapting to life in the era of COVID-19. The following information is current as of 9 a.m. on May 29, 2020.
Michigan Continues to “Reopen”
In all regions of Michigan:
In Regions 6 and 8 (the Upper Peninsula and part of the northern Lower Peninsula):
- Restaurants, bars, retail businesses, and in-person office work could resume on May 22. In-person office work is only permitted if it cannot be done remotely. Restaurants and bars can operate at less than 50% capacity.
- Municipalities retain the authority to place their own limitations on these establishments.
The MI Safe Start Plan sets out the criteria for reopening sectors of the economy by region. This plan was developed by the governor and the Michigan Economic Recovery Council. You can view COVID-19 risks and trends in these eight regions on MI Start Map online dashboard.
Health Insurance Deadline Approaching for Those Who Lost Their Job Due to COVID-19
Low or no-cost healthcare is available for individuals who lost their health insurance due to a change in employment status during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who qualify must sign up for health insurance within 60 day of losing their previous insurance. People can choose between temporarily continuing their employer-provided coverage under COBRA or they can go through the Health Insurance Marketplace. To find out if you are eligible visit www.healthcare.gov. You can contact the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) at (877) 999-6442 or DIFS-HICAP@michigan.gov if you need help applying.
Unemployment Insurance Agency Warns Residents of Fraudulent Claims
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has warned residents that criminals have been attempting to file claims under previously stolen or fraudulent information. The UIA, Michigan State Policy Cyber Command, and the Department of Technology Management and Budget Cybersecurity are working with the U.S. Secret Service to obtain cyber threat indicators related to national fraud activity. The UIA has also put additional fraud protections into place that could impact new and existing claimants.
- For those who have filed an unemployment claim but whose claims have not yet been processed: please expect a longer than normal wait time as the Unemployment Insurance Agency shifts staff resources to help work through the fraudulent activity. If your family is experiencing a financial emergency, my office may be able to help connect you with community agencies that can assist.
- For those who have been receiving unemployment assistance but now see a “stop payment” notice on their account: Watch for a letter in the mail from UIA. There will be instructions for further action you need to take to verify your identity. Certain financial institutions may also place a hold on a customer’s account if it believes there is suspicious activity. You should contact your institution directly if this occurs.
- For those who have been receiving unemployment assistance but do not have access to a computer or the internet: Expect a call from the Unemployment Insurance Agency (likely from a 1-866 phone number) to help you through this situation. If you do not receive a phone call, please contact the UIA customer service hotline at 1-866-500-0017.
- For those who are worried about their personal data: No personal data has been stolen from the UIA system; the fraudulent claims are the result of previously stolen data. When an individual files a claim for unemployment insurance, they will receive a written Monetary Determination letter. If you receive this letter (Form UIA 1575C) and you have not applied for unemployment benefits, or the name on the form is not yours, you may be a victim of identity theft. If this happens, contact the UIA immediately online at gov/UIA through the Report Identity Theft link.
If you have questions about how to submit further information or questions about how this situation will impact your unemployment assistance, please call the UIA hotline at 1-866-500-0017.
Governor Requests Extension to Use Michigan National Guard Through July 31
Yesterday, Gov. Whitmer sent a letter to President Trump requesting an extension on her ability to utilize the Michigan National Guard through July 31. This is done by extending Title 32 authority, which can only be done by the president. Throughout this crisis, the National Guard has assisted with testing, provided warehouse support, disinfected public spaces, and distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), food, and medical supplies all over the state. The National Guard is currently authorized through June 24.
State Tax Foreclosure Deadline Extended
The deadline for Michigan residents to pay back property taxes and avoid foreclosure on their property has been extended by executive order during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The new deadline is June 29, 2020.
Secretary of State Branch Offices Reopening by Appointment June 1
Michigan Secretary of State branch offices will reopen by appointment on June 1 with limited services. These services include:
- Drivers license and state ID transactions that must be done in person;
- Title transfers of motor vehicles;
- Operator, CDL, chauffeur, mechanic, and motorcycle testing;
- Seasonal commercial vehicle renewal.
MEDC Launches Platform to Connect Employers with PPE
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has launched the Pure Michigan Business Connect COVID-19 Procurement Platform. This platform will connect employers in need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with businesses who can meet these needs. You can access this portal at www.michiganbusiness.org/ppe.
Community Testing Sites Open with No Out-of-Pocket Cost to Patients
Testing eligibility has been expanded under Executive Order 2020-104. The following individuals may be tested at “community testing sites” without a doctor’s order:
- Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms, including mild symptoms, of COVID-19;
- Anyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19;
- Anyone who has been working outside of their home for at least 10 days; and
- Anyone who lives in a group setting, like a long-term care facility, prison, or homeless shelter.
No out-of-pocket costs will be charged to anyone who is tested. To find a testing location, please visit www.michigan.gov/coronavirustest or call the state coronavirus hotline at 1-888-535-6136.
Resources Available for Individuals Struggling to Pay Their Water Bill
Individuals who are struggling to pay their water bill should contact their local water department or go to mi211.org to ask about payment programs and assistance. You can also apply for State Emergency Relief bill assistance online at Michigan.gov/MIBridges.
Additional Food Assistance Available for 350,000 Michigan residents
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Gov. Whitmer announced that 350,000 Michigan residents will be eligible to receive additional food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Eligible individuals will have any additional benefits added to their Bridge card by May 31.
Employers Must Create COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
In-person businesses that reopen must follow strict safety guidelines to protect their employees and customers from COVID-19. By June 1, or within two weeks of resuming in-person activities, whichever is later, businesses that resume in-person work must have a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan available for employees and customers. The governor will appoint a Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety to oversee compliance.
Absentee Ballot Applications to be Mailed to all Eligible Voters
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced last week that every Michigan voter will receive an absentee ballot application for the August and November elections. This will encourage registered voters to vote by mail if possible. Voting by mail will reduce the number of voters casting their ballot in person, creating a safer, less crowded environment for election workers and those who vote at the polls.
Evictions Temporarily Suspended
Through June 11, evictions have been temporarily suspended. Under this executive order, tenants and mobile home residents can remain in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they are unable to pay their rent.
Emergency and Early Prescription Refills Permitted
Pharmacists can continue to dispense emergency refills of patients’ prescriptions for up to 60 days. And insurers are required to cover 90-day supplies for early refills. The original version of this executive order was signed in March. The extension applies through June 16.
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.