This week, a number of things happened in Lansing related to the COVID-19 virus. Let’s take a closer look…
Stay-Home Order Extended. Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the “Stay Home Stay Safe” order until May 28, 2020. This means that those of us sheltering at home need to stay home and continue following the guidelines in her executive orders – wear masks when out in public or while shopping in grocery stores, don’t gather in groups, keep up the social distancing and stay at least six feet away from others.
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Driver’s License and Plate Tabs Extended. Whitmer extended the expiration date of state identification cards, driver’s licenses and operator endorsements to July 31, while also suspending penalties for vehicle registration violations. The order also prohibits auto insurance companies from denying a policy or a claim on somebody with a recently expired license or plate tab. You may, however, renew your license or registration online at Michigan.gov/SOS.
Unemployment Expanded. Wednesday’s Executive Order 2020-76 allows the state Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) to only consider a person’s most recent job separation in determining their entitled benefits. In six weeks – from March 15 through April 26 – Michigan saw 1.26 million jobless claims and 81,312 filings for unemployment benefits. The order also:
- Expands the state’s workshare program to help employers reduce layoffs and restart their business.
- Extends unemployment benefits to workers with unanticipated family care responsibility, who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
- Extends unemployment benefits to workers who voluntarily left a job after accepting new employment but were unable to start their new position due to the pandemic.
- Allows anyone with an active unemployment claim to receive up to 26 weeks of benefits.
- Suspends the requirement for individuals seeking unemployment to request a registration and work search waiver from their employer (non-monetary issues).
Some Industries Are Back to Work. During a press conference on Thursday, Whitmer announced that the state’s manufacturing workers would be able to return to work on Monday, May 11. And this week, a few industries, including outdoor workers, construction crews and realtors – went back to work on Saturday, May 7.
Re-Opening the State. Whitmer also unveiled her six-phase MI Safe Start Plan to re-open Michigan. We are currently at Phase Three. The pandemic phases include:
- Uncontrolled Growth. Increasing number of new COVID-19 cases every day, overwhelming our health systems.
- Persistent Spread. Continued high case levels, with concerns about health system capacity.
- Flattening. Cases are no longer increasing; health system’s capacity is sufficient for current needs. (WE ARE HERE.)
- Improving. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining.
- Containing. Continued case and death rates are improving, with outbreaks quickly contained.
- Post-Pandemic. Community spread not expected to return.
“I am working closely with health care experts and epidemiologists to closely monitor Michigan’s progress in the fight against COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “As we move forward with the MI Safe Start Plan, I am working closely with partners in business, labor, and education to determine the best way to move forward each day. All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again. We’ve already reopened lower-risk sectors like construction, manufacturing, and lawn care.”
She added that the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made. “That’s why we will continue to monitor the spread of this virus, hospital capacity, testing rates, and more as we work toward reaching the ‘improving’ phase.”
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