Category Archives: COVID-19 coronavirus

The Huron Hub’s current coverage of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Whitmer reopens movie theaters, strengthens mask requirements in schools


Posted by The Huron Hub

Press release desk

Sept. 25, 2020


Governor’s order increases limits on mass gatherings for regions in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan

Governor Whitmer on Friday signed Executive Orders 2020-183, which amends the MI Safe Start order to reopen movie theaters and performance venues and 2020-185, which requires face coverings for students in grades K-5. 

“Michigan took some of the most aggressive action against COVID-19 in the country, and as a result, the health of our families and our economy are faring better than our neighbors in other states. As a result, we are now able to reopen movie theaters and performance venues with strict safety measures in place. I know these business owners have made incredible sacrifices during this crisis to protect our families and frontline workers, and my administration will continue working to help them get back on their feet,” said Governor Whitmer. “We are not out of the woods yet, and we will continue to monitor the effects of these incremental changes. Right now, the federal government and all 50 states have been under some form of state of emergency. We must stay the course and continue fighting this virus on behalf of our families, frontline workers, and our small businesses.” 

Beginning October 9, a number of previously closed businesses are slated to reopen statewide, including indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks, and more. 

Under Executive Order 2020-183, instead of being limited to 10 people, non-residential indoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in Michigan’s largest venues. Non-residential indoor venues must require a face covering. Instead of being limited to 100 people, non-residential outdoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people. Regions 6 and 8 are subject to the same rules covered in the revised MI Safe Start order, except non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in the regions’ largest venues. 

Executive Order 2020-185 requires all students in grades kindergarten and up in regions 1-5 and 7 to wear a face covering in classrooms. Prior orders had recommended, but not required, a face covering for grades kindergarten through five.  

“With the 2020-2021 flu season approaching, we are in a precarious moment in our fight against COVID-19,” said Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “This new mask requirement is so important to protect students and educators, and to keep our schools open. This year, it’s more important than ever that Michiganders across the state get their flu vaccine as soon as possible, mask up, and maintain at least six feet of physical distancing. Let’s all be smart and stay safe.” 

“We applaud the governor’s strong leadership during this time and appreciate the guidance she has provided,” said JD Loeks, President of Studio C, Parent Company of Celebration Cinema. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees, patrons, and their families. We are eager to reopen our doors with strict safety measures in place and look forward to working closely with the governor and her team as we continue to fight this virus.” 

“One of the many unfortunate side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that bereaved families across Michigan have not had the opportunity attend the rituals, services, and ceremonies that allow them to pay their respects and process their grief over the loss of a loved one,” said Phil Douma, Executive Director of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association.  “Increasing the number of people able to attend a funeral is the right thing to do, and grieving families across our state can now more properly mourn their losses and honor those they love.” 

The governor today also signed Executive Order 2020-184, which updates the governor’s previous order on workplace safeguards to reflect the changes in the MI Safe Start Order.


Michigan unemployed workers provided additional $300 per week


Posted by The Huron Hub
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has started processing payments for Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) for eligible Michiganders. Due to the large volume of payments to be processed, workers will begin receiving LWA payments over the next week to ten days.

LWA is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide $300 per week to supplement unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. To be eligible for LWA, a claimant’s weekly benefit amount must be at least $100 (before deductions).

“Initially, eligible claimants will receive LWA for the benefit weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, 2020,” said UIA Director Steve Gray, “An estimated 910,000 claimants will receive these much-needed additional benefits.”

Workers do not have to file a separate claim or application for LWA. To qualify, claimants must self-certify whether they are unemployed due to COVID-19. For claimants who have already provided a self-certification on their claim filing application, no further action is needed to qualify. Also, all unemployed workers receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) have already completed this step.

Claimants who need to self-certify will receive notification to answer a question in their MiWAM account starting this week. If a claimant has chosen to receive US mail, notification will be mailed.

FEMA has recently alerted states that LWA funds will only be available for a total of six weeks. States were initially granted three weeks of LWA benefits and must apply for additional weeks. UIA has applied for all available weeks of benefits which will be payable until the week ending September 5.


Whitmer signs bill adding $2.8 billion in supplemental funding to unemployment insurance


Posted by The Huron Hub

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020


Governor Whitmer today signed Senate Bill 745, which appropriates $2.8 billion in supplemental funding from federal revenues awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover a temporary $300 per week enhanced federal payment for eligible Michiganders receiving unemployment benefits.

As part of the FEMA program, the additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits will continue until the federal emergency disaster relief funding made available for this program has been exhausted. At this time, it is unknown how many weeks may be covered by existing funds.

“This is good news for the thousands of Michiganders who are still without work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still a short term band aid that falls short of what’s needed,” said Governor Whitmer. “We need the president, Mitch McConnell, and Congress to put partisanship aside and pass a bipartisan recovery package that will help us save lives and get people back on their feet. Michigan families, frontline workers, and small business owners are counting on the federal government to do the right thing and work together on their behalf.”

At this time, eligible claimants do not have to take any action to receive the additional benefit amount provided by the program.

SB 745 also includes $8 million in funding to facilitate the further development of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Illinois, which will provide a critical barrier to prevent invasive carp from entering Lake Michigan. In addition, the bill provides match funding for disaster flood cleanup in Midland and Gladwin counties, as well as funding to cover costs for flood response and mitigation efforts in the City of Detroit.


Whitmer reopens gyms and pools; permits organized sports with ‘strict safety measures’


Posted by The Huron Hub
Press Release Desk

Sept. 3, 2020 – 3:15 PM EST

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-176 reopening Michigan’s gyms and pools in those regions where they remain closed and allowing for organized sports practices and competitions to resume in those regions where they remain restricted, subject to strict protections meant to limit spread of the virus. Gyms and pools may begin to reopen on Wednesday, September 9. The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-175 outlining strict workplace safety measures gyms and pools must follow to protect people from the spread of COVID-19.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have followed the best science and data available to make decisions that will keep Michiganders safe, and our hard work is paying off. Today we are announcing the reopening of gyms and pools with strict safety measures in place to protect patrons and their families,” said Governor Whitmer. “I urge everyone who plans to hit the gym after these orders go into effect to take these precautions seriously and do everything in their power to protect themselves and their families. Be smart, and stay safe.”

“Individuals can now choose whether or not to play organized sports, and if they do choose to play, this order requires strict safety measures to reduce risk,” said Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “However, we know of 30 reported outbreaks involving athletic teams and facilities in August. Based on current data, contact sports create a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and MDHHS strongly recommends against participating in them at this time. We are not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 is still a very real threat to our families.”

“On behalf of the Michigan Fitness Club Association, we appreciate Governor Whitmer’s announcement regarding the re-opening of gyms and fitness centers,” said Alyssa Tushman, Vice Chair of the Michigan Fitness Club Association. “The health and safety of our members, staff, and the public in general is our top priority. We are well-prepared to ensure a safe, clean environment and we are excited to offer Michiganders the opportunity to resume their exercise routines. We look forward to working with Governor Whitmer and her administration to help build a healthy Michigan.”

Under Executive Order 2020-175, all gyms and pools that reopen must enforce strict safety measures. Gyms must require wearing of masks at all times, including times of exercise, configure workout stations or implement protocols to enable six feet of distance between individuals during exercise sessions, reduce class sizes to enable at least six feet of separation between individuals, provide equipment-cleaning products throughout the gym, and more.

Spectators for indoor organized sports are limited to the guests of the athletes with each athlete designating up to two guests. For outdoor sports competitions, the organizer of the competitions must either limit the audience to the guests of the participants with each athlete designating up to two guests, or limit total attendance to 100 people or fewer, including all participants like athletes, coaches, and staff.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also released guidance todayon organized sports. The document recommends against contact sports at this time, defined to mean those sports involving more than occasional and fleeting contact, including football, basketball, and soccer. It also cites the elevated risk associated with activities that involve “shouting, singing, or breathing forcefully,” and notes there have been 30 reported outbreaks associated with athletic clubs, teams, or athletic facilities. MDHHS’ guidance recommends mitigation measures organized sports teams may take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during training, practices, and competitions. These recommendations include frequent hand washing, not letting players share towels, clothing, or other items they use to wipe their faces or hands, ensuring proper cleaning and disinfection of objects and equipment, prioritizing outdoor practice, and more.

“As we begin to start organized sports back up again, I urge school districts and athletic associations to do everything in their power to protect players, coaches, and staff. That means carefully following the guidelines released today by DHHS,” said Governor Whitmer. “Going forward, we will continue to work with health experts to assess the risk associated with business sectors that remain closed. For the health and safety of our families and frontline workers, it is crucial that we proceed thoughtfully and incrementally so we can measure the effects of today‘s actions before we take additional steps towards re-engagement.”

“We are pleased with the opportunity to move forward. Our Association continues to work with a team from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health to ensure the safety of approximately 90,000 players and 11,000 team officials,” said Thomas Faro, Executive Director of the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association. “We will continue these efforts through our return to play guidelines and in strict accordance with Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders.”

To view the governor’s executive orders and the DHHS memo on mitigation strategies, click the links below:


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Department of Agriculture reminds agri-tourism operators to follow COVID-19 safety guidance for fall season

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(Photo/Pixabay)


Posted by The Huron Hub | Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020

As Michigan moves into autumn, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) today reminded the state’s U-pick, corn mazes and other agri-tourism operations opening up to implement and follow plans to protect themselves and their customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fall harvest in Michigan brings a bounty of delicious food and products highlighting Pure Michigan agriculture. U-pick and other agri-tourism farming operations are part of the foundation of our food supply chain,” said Gary McDowell, MDARD director. “These businesses need to continue adhering to specific guidance such as social distancing in the retail and field areas, using masks, and taking the necessary steps to protect public health as they open for the season.”

A couple of key items to note for agri-tourism operators, with the full list available online:

-Operators must have a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and make it readily available to employees and customers; train employees; and supervise implementation.
-U-pick and agri-tourism operations must screen staff daily for symptoms and those with symptoms should not be permitted to work until they subside.
-The use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face coverings as appropriate for the activity being performed is required and must be provided.
-Limit in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible, and bar any such interaction in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
-Customers must take steps to maintain social distancing in sale and retail areas and in fields. Spacing out guests in U-pick areas is critical to the safety of all guests. A minimum of six feet between guests must always be maintained. This also means avoiding crowds waiting to enter sales or field areas and providing for six feet between each guest standing in any lines.
-Family units should stay together and six feet apart from others. Customers should only be accompanied with family members and should limit the numbers in their groups.

All provisions of Executive Orders 2020-160 and 2020-161 and best practices from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.


Support local journalism: If you’ve valued The Huron Hub’s consistent local news coverage during this pandemic, please consider supporting us.


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School board president says district working hard to ‘provide the safest and most purposeful learning environment for students’ among pandemic

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Letter to the editor
Published Aug. 25, 2020
The Huron Hub

I want to take a moment to thank our parents and community
for their patience during our planning process as we approach
the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. The Huron School
District has worked hard to balance the social distancing
guidelines, staffing considerations, clearing protocols,
contractual obligations, and transportation issues as we
attempt to provide the safest and most purposeful learning
environment for students.

In a time when most districts in our region are beginning the
year remotely, we are working to offer parents the best choices
we are able to provide, while keeping class sizes low and
complying with state requirements that have been dictated to
schools.

We understand that our modified schedule will present
challenges for parents and families, and we are thankful for the
patience and support that we have received from our
community. We have confidence that we will get through this
together, and we are hopeful that our efforts will lead to a
successful start of the year.

Thank you again for your support and understanding.

Jack Richert
President
Huron Board of Education


 

FEMA approves Michigan’s application for additional $300 per week to unemployed residents


Posted Friday, Aug. 21, 2020 
The Huron Hub
10:10 AM EST

FEMA approved the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency’s application for funding that would provide an additional $300 per week payment to Michiganders receiving unemployment benefits on Friday.

“This is good news for the thousands of Michiganders who are still without work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still a short term band aid that falls short of what’s needed,” said Governor Whitmer. “We need the president, Mitch McConnell, and Congress to put partisanship aside and pass a bipartisan recovery package that will help us save lives and get people back on their feet. Michigan families, frontline workers, and small business owners are counting on the federal government to do the right thing and work together on their behalf.”

The UIA estimates that under the program, about 910,000 Michiganders would receive at least $300 per week in supplemental benefits. The program allows for existing Unemployment Trust Fund payments delivered by Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency to count as 25% matching funds required for participation. Eligible claimants will be paid benefits retroactive to August 1. It is unclear at this time how long funding for the program will last. 

“This additional $300 a week will provide some much needed support to those who are still struggling to make ends meet during this time of extreme need,” said Steve Gray, Director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency. “Our goal now is to work as quickly as possible to implement this new program to get people the benefits they need.” 

At this time, claimants do not have to take any action to receive the additional benefit amount provided by the program. The additional benefits will be added automatically for all claimants who are eligible to receive at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefit payments. This includes claimants receiving any type of regular unemployment insurance benefits as well as those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. 


 

2020 Romulus Pumpkin Festival cancelled due to COVID-19

Photo courtesy City of Romulus


Posted by The Huron Hub | Romulus news tab
Aug. 20, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the recommendation of the Pumpkin Festival Planning Committee and the Romulus Rotary Club, the City has decided to cancel this year’s Pumpkin Festival and Parade of Lights. The decision was made after careful consideration of all options.

Virtual fall events are still in the planning process and include a sunflower growing contest, pumpkin growing contest, fall harvest porch decorating contest, fall-themed cutest pet and cutest baby contests and Romulus Arts Council fall art contest.

“Our goal is to be creative and organize events for the community throughout the fall season while continuing to protect our residents by following Governor Whitmer’s guidelines and CDC recommendations,” said Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff. “While we are saddened to cancel our favorite in-person fall event, we look forward to debuting alternative virtual events for our residents.”

For more information about the upcoming virtual contests and events, call the Community Development Office at (734) 942-7545 or follow the City of Romulus or Downtown Romulus, Michigan Facebook pages.


 

Romulus launches virtual business-to-business networking series amid pandemic

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Posted by The Huron Hub | Romulus news tab
Aug. 19, 2020

The City of Romulus launched a virtual Business-to-Business Networking Series yesterday in an effort to promote economic development and provide support for local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from Wayne County, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Detroit Regional Aerotropolis joined the conversation to provide updates on grants and other available business resources.

“I see the city of Romulus as a business-friendly municipality, and I think the future looks good for businesses in Romulus,” said Wayne County District 11 Commissioner Al Haidous during the meeting. “The city of Romulus is a hotspot for economic development.”

Though the city has held past Business-to-Business Networking events in-person, COVID-19 restrictions meant the city needed to pivot to identify a virtual option. The event allowed city officials to connect with local businesses, share resources, answer questions and receive feedback at a safe social distance.

“Our role as city officials is to support and connect local businesses with the people, programs and resources they need to be successful,” said Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff. “This series will help us learn what is working for businesses and what is not. We’re in a different world since the onset of COVID-19, but I continue to be proud of the innovative ways our community has adapted and come together to support small businesses.”

The City of Romulus is the process of organizing additional virtual Business-to-Business networking events to keep the conversation going.

“We organized the series as a way to connect local businesses with all the resources and tools available to them,” said Jazmine Danci, Director of Marketing & Community Development for the City of Romulus. “Today’s networking event provided local business owners a direct line to key city departments and community partners, as well as an understanding of how they can access available resources.”

Visit the City’s website or Facebook for future announcements.

Article source: City of Romulus 


 

Unemployment agency applies for federal funding to provide additional $300 per week to unemployed Michigan residents


Posted Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 
The Huron Hub

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) submitted an application today to the United States Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for funding that would provide an additional $300 per week payment to Michiganders receiving unemployment benefits.

“Right now, there are an unprecedented number of Michiganders who have lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will provide some much needed support for families that are struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills, but it’s a short term band aid that falls short of what’s needed,” said Whitmer. “A robust Congressional recovery package that meets the scale of this crisis is what’s needed to help individuals who have lost work as a result of the pandemic get through this unprecedented time.”

The UIA estimates that under the program, about 910,000 Michiganders would receive at least $300 per week in supplemental benefits.

The program allows for existing Unemployment Trust Fund payments delivered by Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency to count as 25% matching funds required for participation.

Eligible claimants will be paid benefits retroactive to August 1. It is unclear at this time how long funding for the program will last.

“We look forward to receiving a response from FEMA in order to implement and distribute these additional funds to Michiganders as quickly as possible,” said UIA Director Steve Gray. “Michigan workers are advised to continue their bi-weekly certifications as they normally would and do not need to contact the UIA or make changes to their MiWAM account to receive these additional funds.”