LANSING, MI - Governor Gretchen Whitmer held another live press conference to give an update on her response to COVID-19. The Governor announced that extended unemployment benefits will cover workers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak that would, under normal circumstances, not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Benefit payments will also be extended to all unemployed workers from 26 to 39 weeks.
Since the last press conference that Governor Whitmer held last Thursday, Whitmer says, “I’m hopeful that the president will review my request on other individual programs for assistance that provide meals to families that need them and the rental assistance and temporary housing for families. I look forward to the federal governments continued partnership and we're truly grateful for the things that have happened these last couple of days to help us fight this virus. Over the weekend we’ve received 112,095 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile with 8,000 more on the way, this is good news, but we need more.” The Governor also acknowledged small businesses that have stepped up production of masks and face shields for health care workers.
The Governor signed a number of executive orders in the last couple of days. One of them pushed all state and city income tax filing deadlines to July. Absentee voting has also expanded to the May 5th election, as well as establishing a $2 million water restart grant program to restore service and access to clean water for Michiganders. By doing this, the Governor says, "We are protecting vulnerable populations in Michigan's county jails, local lockups, and juvenile detention centers during the ongoing pandemic. We’ve also relaxed practice laws to give hospitals and other health workers facilities the flexibility they need to successfully deploy qualified physician assistants, nurses, and other health care providers to combat COVID-19.”
Two executive orders were also signed by Governor Whitmer to restrict discretionary spending by our state departments and agencies and temporarily suspend hiring and creating new or filling vacant positions, transfers and promotions within the executive branch of state government.
As of 3pm yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer states that there have been 5,486 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 132 deaths and says, “We know this number will continue to go up. Despite our aggressive acts and efforts, this is supposed to be expected and will not see the benefits of these aggressive efforts for while. That’s why it’s important for everyone to do their part.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has launched a new volunteer website where trained medical professionals can register to serve their fellow Michiganders by assisting hospitals and fighting COVID-19, says Whitmer. She added, “We expect a great need for additional medical support in the coming days and we ask, please sign up now. State residents can also use the site to find out how they can help in their local communities on how they can connect to give blood or donate money, or need of medical supplies. We have seen Michiganders with strength and courage during this difficult time of uncertainty. Whether it’s for communities donating food, money and resources to those who need it or businesses using their technology to manufacture personal protective equipment. We must all work together as Michiganders and we will get through this.”
Whitmer signed two supplemental budgets today that re-prioritizes funding to slow the spread of the COVID-19 and was negotiated in good faith with her administration and legislative leaders with key priorities included in the bill and says, “The world has changed since those negotiations and must react and change along with it.” Whitmer also vetoed a number of line items to save tax dollars and says, “Now isn’t the time to assign a bill for supplemental funding for anything other than dollars that can be utilized to help our COVID-19 response.”
Governor Whitmer states that, "With this action plan today we will be committing $150 million dollars to combat COVID-19. To date, the state has already expended $80 million dollars to begin securing 20 million masks, 2,000 ventilators, 9 million ounces of hand sanitizers. More than 255,000 boxes of gloves, 2.4 million gowns, more than 2,000 beds and 2,000 more testing kits and 3,000 thermometers, 185,000 face shields, 22,000 sanitation wipes as well as other needed supplies."
"Getting through this crisis requires all hands on deck and the coming days will be a challenge like we never had before. Michiganders are smart and determined and always looked to one another. No matter your race, social status, age, your health and safety matters and I will continue to fight for you."