Category Archives: COVID-19 coronavirus

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

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.”


 

Whitmer extends declaration of emergency through Sept. 4


Posted Aug. 7, 2020 | The Huron Hub

Governor Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-165 which extends the governor’s emergency and disaster declaration until September 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

“We are in a crucial time in our fight against COVID-19, and we must do everything we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the brave men and women on the front lines of this crisis from a second wave,” said Whitmer. “Today, I signed new emergency and disaster declarations using independent sources of statutory authority to continue saving lives. I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to protect Michiganders from the spread of this virus. I want to remind everyone in Michigan to wear a mask, practice safe physical distancing, and do everything in your power to fight COVID-19.”

Officials say every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases over the past several weeks, and daily case counts in late July exceeded 50 cases per million statewide.

“Michigan’s statewide positivity rate has also increased, from a low of 2% in mid-June to 3.5% in late July. The increase in cases reflects a national trend: COVID-19 cases are growing or holding steady in 40 states and deaths from COVID-19 are increasing in most of those states as well,” Whitmer said.

While cases in Michigan have increased since June, numbers here are below the national average, with roughly a 3.5% positivity rate in Michigan compared to 9% nationally, and considerably lower than surrounding states.

“COVID-19 is still devastating families across Michigan, and it’s crucial that Governor Whitmer continue to take swift action to save lives,” said Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “I will continue to work alongside her as we make decisions to protect families’ health and safety. Michiganders should still do their part by wearing a mask and practicing safe physical distancing. Be smart, and stay safe.”

Even as Michigan experiences unemployment rates not seen in decades, federal pandemic unemployment assistance has expired, with Congress deadlocked over a renewal.

Until it is renewed, the additional $600 federal pandemic benefit will no longer go to Michigan families.

“Without that money, many families in Michigan will struggle to pay their bills or even put food on the table,” Whitmer said.

In addition to these challenges, many Michigan students will return to in-person instruction over the next month, increasing the risk of outbreaks, health officials said.

States that have reopened schools have already begun to see new cases—a second-grader in Cherokee County, Georgia, a middle schooler in Greenfield, Indiana, and a high schooler in Corinth, Mississippi, have already tested positive for COVID-19 having attended school in person, triggering quarantines in those districts.

“The health, economic, and social harms of the COVID-19 pandemic remain widespread and severe, and they continue to constitute a statewide emergency and disaster. Though local health departments have some limited capacity to respond to cases as they arise within their jurisdictions, state emergency operations are necessary to bring this pandemic under control in Michigan and to build and maintain infrastructure to stop the spread of COVID-19, trace infections, and quickly direct additional resources to hot-spots as they emerge,” Whitmer said.