Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05)
Thursday, October 8, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is developing very quickly, and I know many people have questions and concerns. I will try to answer some of them below.
These are incredibly stressful times for all Michiganders. I am working, along with my staff, around the clock, seven days a week to answer your questions, provide community resources and provide up-to-date, accurate information. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office anytime by calling (810) 238-8627.
On October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Governor Whitmer did not have the authority to issue COVID-19 executive orders—including her Safe Start Order—after the initial state of emergency expired on April 30. This ruling does not take effect for at least 21 days, so until then, her emergency declaration and orders retain the force of law. After 21 days, many of the measures she put in place will continue under alternative sources of authority. For example, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director issued an epidemic order to continue requiring masks, limiting gatherings, and safeguarding nursing homes. More information can be found here.
The Internal Revenue Service announced that the deadline to register for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) is now November 21, 2020. This new date will provide an additional five weeks beyond the original deadline. More information can be found here.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING UPDATE
The Governor has expanded testing opportunities for Michiganders to access testing in their own backyards. The Michigan Department of the Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is partnering with community organizations to launch 12 Neighborhood Testing Sites and more than 20 across the state in coming weeks. More information can be found here.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a website and app with a coronavirus screening tool and resources to help people protect their health. The website can be found here and the app can be accessed here.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE RESOURCES UPDATE
The last federal $600 weekly unemployment benefit was paid to Michiganders on July 25. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) provided the state funding to provide six weeks of an additional $300 per week unemployment benefit, covering dates July 26 through September 5. To qualify, claimants must self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19. More information can be found here.
Additionally, unemployed Michiganders who have exhausted their regular and extended weeks of unemployment eligibility will receive up to 20 weeks of additional benefits, through the Federal Extended Benefits program. More information can be found here.
On May 1, I introduced The Strengthening UI for COVID Impacted Workers and Students Act to expand unemployment insurance for American workers, which was included in The Heroes Act. For more information, visit here.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Unemployment eligibility has been expanded to include those who are sick or caring for a family member as well as self-employed, contracted, and gig economy workers. Individuals should apply online at www.Michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017 and are encouraged to follow a filing schedule based on last name and use off-peak times (8 p.m. – 8 a.m). The UIA offers resources to help workers resolve online technical issues with their account. More information can be found here.
Governor Whitmer created the Eviction Diversion Program, which outlines a process for renters to get fast rental assistance or establish a manageable payment plan to help them stay in their homes. The program also includes assistance to landlords. More information can be found here.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have a website to help renters and homeowners understand their housing assistance options. This includes information on mortgage and rental relief as well as resources for additional help that may be needed. More information can be found here.
The CDC has issued a moratorium on evictions of renters through December 31, 2020 based on non-payment of rent. For individuals that have questions on how this moratorium works or how they can access help, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has put together an overview of the order here, while Michigan Legal Help has more tools and information here.
COMMUNITY RESOURCES UPDATE
The Governor launched the ‘Futures for Frontliners’ program, a tuition-free path to community college for essential, frontline workers who continued working during the COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe orders between April – June 2020. Those eligible must apply for this scholarship before the end of the year. More information can be found here.
The Governor announced low-income residents, seniors, schools and homeless shelters will benefit from the MI Mask Aid partnership that is part of the Mask Up Michigan Campaign. More information can be found here.
All registered voters in the state of Michigan have the right to vote by mail. More information can be found here.
Personal Protective Equipment: The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has launched a platform to help re-opening businesses acquire PPE. More information can be found here.
Michigan’s Virtual Food Bank: Seniors in need of food support can sign up for assistance, including meal delivery, delivery of non-perishable food items, and daily wellness-check calls, through the MDHHS coronavirus website, or by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging. More information on the virtual food bank can be found here.
Flint Cares Help Centers: The city of Flint is offering resources and services including bottled water and food assistance. Services will continue to be provided from two semi-trailers staged in church parking lots across the city to distribute items directly to cars as residents drive through. For more information please call 810-410-2020 or visit here.
On August 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Delivering for America Act, to fund the U.S. Postal Service and prohibit changes to operations until the pandemic has ended. More information can be found here.
On May 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Heroes Act. The Heroes Act includes a number of key policies I have advocated for, including additional direct payments to families and seniors, expanding unemployment insurance, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and funding to prevent water shutoffs. More information can be found here.
On May 15, I introduced a bipartisan bill, The Recharge and Empower Local Innovation and Entrepreneurs Fund for Main Street Act (RELIEF for Main Street Act), with Reps. Evans (D-PA), Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Upton (R-MI). The bill creates a $50.5 billion Small Business Local Relief Program to provide direct federal support to cities, counties and states in order to seed and scale local relief funds and target small businesses with 20 employees or fewer, or with 50 employees or fewer located in low-income neighborhoods. More information can be found here.
Congress has also passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, The CARES Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to help families and health care facilities respond to the coronavirus pandemic.