Category Archives: COVID-19 coronavirus

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

New Michigan website provides COVID-19 risk and trend data

Seen here is a May 26, 2020 screen shot of the new MI Start Map website launched by the state of Michigan.


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| May 26, 2020

A new online dashboard launched today visually illustrates COVID-19 risks and trends in Michigan

The website provides residents with information about the pandemic status where they live and work.

You can visit the website at this link: https://www.mistartmap.info/

The website was developed through a collaboration between Michigan’s departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and Economic Opportunity, and the University of Michigan.

The dashboard data is divided into Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) regions.

“MERC regions were developed by merging Michigan’s Emergency Preparedness Regions and Michigan’s labor sheds – the major areas of the state where people live and travel to work based on U.S. Department of Labor data – so that any outbreak resulting from a return to work could be handled effectively under public health laws,” a statement from the state of Michigan said.

The COVID-19 data displayed on the dashboard represents publicly available case, death and test data analyzed to determine overall level of risk and key trends.

Graphs, numbers and trends provide a snapshot of how much virus is in a community, and whether it is increasing or decreasing.

Risk levels were developed by MDHHS and the U-M School of Public Health using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, national Guidelines for Opening America and several other leading national organizations.

“The risk levels tell us whether there is high, medium or low risk of COVID-19 spread in a community and can help highlight areas where more social distancing may be needed, or where vulnerable individuals should be particularly careful,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.

The dashboard was designed and created by faculty at U-M School of Information and School of Public Health and presents risk and capacity indicators that inform implementation of the MI Safe Start Plan.

These indicators fall into three categories: epidemic spread, health system capacity and public health capacity.

Each indicator displays a level of risk. The indicators, along with other epidemiologic information, inform the overall risk level for a region.

It also incorporates on-the-ground knowledge, such as whether new cases of COVID-19 are localized to a single outbreak or represent community-wide spread.

“The U-M team is very excited to build this dashboard for the people and State of Michigan,” said Sharon Kardia, Ph.D., associate dean at U-M School of Public Health. “This precision public health dashboard is very unique as it clearly shows everyone why some regions can open up more rapidly than others.”

In addition to the risk and capacity indicators, other considerations such as the availability of mitigation measures, the risk posed by certain activities and other economic factors also inform decisions under the MI Safe Start Plan, officials said.


You can view a special COVID-19 (coronavirus) news section on HuronHub.com by clicking on this link.

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

Whitmer extends validity of watercraft registrations

(Photo/Pexels)


Posted by The Huron Hub| May 26, 2020

Governor Whitmer signed an order May 22 extending the validity of watercraft registrations that expired after February 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

“As temperatures continue to warm up, recreational boaters should not have to worry about their watercraft registration expiring at no fault of their own,” Whitmer said. “This Executive Order will allow all watercraft users to safely take full advantage of this beautiful weather and Michigan’s pristine lakes and rivers, while minimizing in-person work in order to flatten the COVID-19 curve.”

New watercraft can be operated in Michigan waters until July 31, 2020 without displaying an identifying number and decal, provided the operator of the vessel possesses a proof of purchase or equivalent evidence that the vessel was acquired after January 1, 2020.

Additionally, law enforcement cannot issue tickets as a result of watercraft decals that expired after September 30, 2019. The state cannot assess late fees for expired decals as long as boaters renew their registration by July 31.

Boaters are asked to complete their watercraft registration renewals during the state’s emergency and disaster declarations at www.michigan.gov/sos.

“I appreciate Governor Gretchen Whitmer extending these expirations,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “It will give flexibility and peace of mind to watercraft owners across the state, and reduce in-person interactions at Secretary of State branch offices.”


 

Whitmer extends stay home order through June 12


Posted by The Huron Hub| May 22, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-100 to extend Michigan’s “Safer at Home” order until June 12.

The governor’s order also extends the temporary closure of certain places of public accommodation such as theaters, gyms, and casinos.

The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-99 to extend the state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was upheld by Judge Cynthia Stephens on May 21, 2020.

The governor says her “aggressive measures are working, but there is still more to be done. For instance, cases in some counties in Western and Mid-Michigan are now doubling approximately every 10 days.”

“To continue to protect Michigan families from both the public health and economic impacts of the virus, and to lower the chance of a second wave, the governor’s emergency declaration is extended until June 19, 2020.”

“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet. If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home,” said Governor Whitmer. “If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed.  While we finally have more protective equipment like masks, we can’t run the risk of running low again. We owe it to the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis – our first responders, health care workers, and critical workers putting their lives on the line every day – to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of the virus.”

Executive Order 2020-100 also clarifies and, as necessary, extends the duration of a number of previous executive orders designed to protect Michiganders and to provide them the support they need.

The extended orders cover protections for workers who stay home and stay safe when they or their close contacts are sick, restoring water service to those whose water has been shut off, the affirmation of non-discrimination policies in the provision of COVID-19 care, and more.

“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again,” said Governor Whitmer. “We’ve already loosened some restrictions on construction, manufacturing, landscaping, retail, and more. But 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.”

Governor Whitmer has taken a number of actions to safely re-engage Michigan’s economy in a way that protects workers and their families. Most recently, she signed executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26, as part of her MI Safe Start plan. Effective on Friday, May 29, the governor also lifted the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide. And the governor also authorized small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.

Businesses that the governor has authorized to reopen must provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.

To view Executive Orders 2020-99 and 2020-100, click the link below:

Whitmer reopens auto dealerships and retail businesses by appointment; authorizes nonessential medical, dental, veterinary procedures


Posted by The Huron Hub | Press Release Desk | May 21, 2020

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26, as part of her MI Safe Start plan. The governor’s executive order also lifts the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide beginning on Friday, May 29. And the order authorizes small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.

“The data shows that Michigan is ready to phase in these sectors of our economy, but we must stay vigilant and ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “On behalf of our brave first responders on the front lines of this crisis, we must continue to all do our part by staying safer at home. We owe it to them to do what we can to stop the spread of this virus.”

“As businesses continue to reopen, it’s crucial that they adopt strict safety measures to protect their employees, customers, and their families,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “I know that as medical professionals begin offering nonessential procedures again, they will do everything in their power to protect patients and their families from COVID-19. I will continue to work with Governor Whitmer and our partners across Michigan to protect our families and lower the chance of a second wave.”

“This is great news for dealerships across the state,” said Doug North, President of North Brothers Ford. “We appreciate the governor’s leadership, and we welcome the opportunity to serve our customers in a way that helps keep everyone safe from the showroom floor to the open road.”

The governor also signed a separate order, Executive Order 2020-97, updating a prior rule on workplace safety. Per the amended order, reopened outpatient health-care facilities, including clinics, primary care physician offices, and dental offices, will have to adopt strict protocols to prevent infection. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will issue guidance to aid those facilities in adopting appropriate safeguards.

As before, businesses maintaining in-person activities must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers. They must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.

“With today’s announcement, physicians and health care providers in Michigan are ready to resume taking care of patients,” said Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, president of the Michigan State Medical Society. “It is time for patients to catch up on the care that has been deferred for the past two months. We encourage the citizens of Michigan to tend to their health and protect each other by following public health guidance to prevent spread of this virus.”

Consistent with the governor’s previous Safer at Home orders, any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth—like a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief—when in any enclosed public space. Michiganders who are not working as critical infrastructure workers or at a business that has been authorized to reopen should stay home to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19.


 

Amid coronavirus scams, state reps introduce bills to protect Michigan consumers

State Rep. Darrin Camilleri speaking on the House floor.


Posted by The Huron Hub | Press release desk | May 20, 2020

In light of Coronavirus-related scams and citing Michigan’s label as one of the “terrible two”[1] in consumer protection nationwide, State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown) and Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) introduced legislation today that would strengthen Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act.

“Michigan has some of the weakest consumer protection regulations in the nation, and throughout this crisis we’ve seen the detrimental effects of that,” said Camilleri. “It is unacceptable that current law prohibits our Attorney General, the person intended to be our top consumer watchdog, from outlining new unfair trade practices— as we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, those are emerging all the time. By empowering our AG with stronger tools to protect Michigan consumers, we can make sure more people across our state aren’t being unfairly taken advantage of, which is something Michiganders need and deserve now more than ever.”

“This pandemic continues to shine a bright light on the deficiencies in many of our laws, and in particular our consumer protection standards,” said Hammoud. “It is critical that we enhance our laws and the ability for our Attorney General to do the job of adequately protecting our residents, and prevent bad actors from taking advantage of people in a time of crisis. This legislation is an integral next step toward providing the protection that our residents depend upon when using their hard-earned money to make purchases, and we must hold all industries accountable.”

The two-bill package would do the following:

● House Bill 5793: Allow the Attorney General to enumerate new unfair trade practices to be included in the Consumer Protection Act (Camilleri)

● House Bill 5794: Expand the Consumer Protection Act to apply to regulated industries like utilities and insurance (Hammoud)


Michigan receives $35M in federal funds to help struggling households pay energy costs


Posted by The Huron Hub | Press release desk | May 19, 2020

The State of Michigan has been awarded more than $35 million in additional federal funding to help vulnerable households struggling to afford utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, as radio broadcasters across the state air public service announcements alerting Michiganders to the assistance available to those in need.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced it was releasing $900 million in supplemental funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for federal Fiscal Year 2020 from the CARES Act. Michigan’s share of the funding was $35,130,421.

The funding is in addition to the more than $162 million in regular LIHEAP funding provided to Michigan for this fiscal year. The additional funding will be used for crisis assistance to help struggling households pay part of their energy costs.

The LIHEAP funding increase comes as 84 radio stations across Michigan have agreed to air a public service announcement throughout May. Created by Consumers Energy and DTE Energy in consultation with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the ad lets Michiganders know that if they’re struggling, they can contact their energy providers for flexible payment plans and other assistance, and call 211 or go to http://www.mi211.org for help with energy bills and other needs. The PSA is available here.

The MPSC, Michigan Department of Health and Human Service (MDHHS) and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have taken steps to ensure Michiganders impacted by layoffs or drops in income related to the pandemic can maintain energy service at their homes. Energy providers across the state have agreed to pause shutoffs for low-income and senior residential customers until the emergency is lifted and to provide flexible payment options. Customers in financial trouble during the pandemic can find additional information here.

MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg urged utility customers who are struggling to reach out right away to their energy providers to seek help.

“Utilities have special protections because of the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, but customers need to reach out and apply for utility assistance while it’s available,” Talberg said. “We want to make sure that people who need help receive it during this crisis.”

Lewis Roubal, senior deputy director for opportunity at MDHHS, said the state has several options to help people who are struggling to pay utility bills.

“Many Michiganders are more vulnerable as a result of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the economy,” he said. “MDHHS is working hard during the pandemic to expand public assistance benefits and provide easier access to financial help for residents who are struggling to pay their bills. The additional LIHEAP funding allows us to help more people who need assistance.”

Anyone facing financial distress because of COVID-19 is urged to:

-Contact your utility or propane supplier to ask what kind of protections, funding, flexible payment options, or energy saving tools and resources are available.
-Call 211 or go to mi211.orgfor information about getting help paying your utility bill or how to contact agencies that may assist you with your energy bill.
-Apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) directly through the MI Bridges program for bill payment assistance if you are in jeopardy of losing heat or electric services, have already had service shut off, or are in need of a deliverable fuel, or call 855-275-6424. You can also get assistance with the application process by calling 211 to be referred to a MEAP grantee that can help.
-Apply for a Home Heating Credit. Visit the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website to see if you qualify. Even though this funding is distributed by the Department of Treasury, you do not need to file taxes or wait for a tax return to receive this credit, so apply now if you are eligible. For more information, read the MPSC’s Home Heating Credit consumer tip.

For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPS.


 

Whitmer reopens restaurants, retail, offices in Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions

(Whitmer giving COVID-19 update / file photo)


Posted by The Huron Hub | Press release desk | May 18, 2020

Gov. Whitmer on Monday signed an order allowing for the reopening, in two regions, of retail businesses, office work that cannot be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating. The two regions are both in the northern part of the state—specifically, MERC regions 6 and 8, as detailed in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy.

The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships may choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.

“This is a big step, but we must all remember to continue doing our part to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “It’s crucial that all businesses do everything in their power to protect their workers, customers, and their families. And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, I encourage everyone to be smart and be safe. My team and I will continue to work around the clock to protect the people of Michigan.”

“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6 foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often.  This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.”

All businesses that will reopen in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined inExecutive Order 2020-91. That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.

“We are thankful to Governor Whitmer as today marks an important first step of reintegrating restaurants into the fabric of our daily lives,” said Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Restaurants in the U.P. and northern Michigan understand that with their opportunity comes an extraordinary responsibility to operate in a manner that ensures the safety of their guests and their employees.  I believe they are up to the challenge.”

“Like Gov. Whitmer, Mayors in Michigan support the well-being of all our citizens,” said Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers. “All regions of Michigan have been affected by COVID-19, and Up North, we want to support the Governor by cautiously opening up some of our economy resources. However, in doing so, we must be mindful that wearing masks and continuing to practice social distancing is a must to make this work. Stopping the spread of this virus is still key and if we can’t, then we will have to close it down again.”

“I support the shift to making decisions on a regional level when possible,” said Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith. “As restrictions are slowly eased, it will be important for us to remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus.”

Region 6 in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan includes the following counties: Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, and Emmet.

Region 8 in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan includes the following counties: Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa.


You can view a special COVID-19 (coronavirus) news section on HuronHub.com by clicking on this link.

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