Category Archives: COVID-19 coronavirus

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

Whitmer signs $106 million bipartisan relief bill, extends unemployment benefits to 26 Weeks

Photo courtesy state of Michigan


Posted by The Huron Hub
Dec. 29, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan relief bill today designed to support Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses.

The relief bill passed by the Michigan legislature includes $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses across the state that need support this winter. The relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues, and includes $45 million in direct payments to workers who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the virus.

“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief. This bipartisan bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eliminate COVID-19 once and for all,” Whitmer said. “There is still more work to do to eliminate this virus and grow our economy. All Michiganders have a personal responsibility to do their part and mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. We will beat this virus together.”

The governor also signed bipartisan Senate Bill 604 extending unemployment benefits for Michiganders who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of March 2021.

Senate Bill 604 was sponsored by Senator Curtis Hertel.

“No Michigander should have to worry about how to put food on the table or pay their bills, especially during a global pandemic,” said Whitmer. “These bipartisan bills are an important step in providing immediate relief for working families, but there is more work to do. I urge the legislature to take further action to make this permanent. 40 states, including all of our neighbors, automatically provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment relief. Michiganders deserve better than a short-term extension that expires in March. It’s time to work together on a bipartisan, long-term solution for working families.”

Since March 15, Governor Whitmer’s administration has paid nearly $27 billion in benefits to nearly 2.3 million workers.

When she signed the bipartisan relief bill, Governor Whitmer line item vetoed items not subject to negotiated agreement.

That includes a $220 million giveaway of taxpayer money to the employer-owned Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund – a pool of funds designed to help businesses fund benefits for laid off workers.

“General fund dollars must be used to fund essential services like vaccines and PPE, not to give tax breaks to big businesses,” Whitmer said.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency has also provided more than $900 million in tax breaks to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Today, Whitmer urged the legislature to return to work in January and pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits and an increase in weekly benefits that provide unemployed Michiganders support during the pandemic.

On Sunday, President Trump signed a COVID relief bill that provides some support for Michigan’s unemployed workers.

This bill extends benefits to self-employed and gig workers and provides all unemployment recipients with an additional $300 per week.

This extension will bring relief to nearly 700,000 Michigan workers who are currently receiving benefits under the federal UI programs.

The continuation of these benefits with the additional $300 per week for all claimants will provide workers with the emergency financial assistance to buy essential items.


 

Michigan begins re-opening of high schools, indoor entertainment


Posted by The Huron Hub

Dec. 18, 2020

–MDHHS begins re-opening of high schools and

indoor entertainment

–Gatherings remain limited, but high schools, casinos, bowling alleys, theaters can reopen

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order today to allow some indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked.

Health officials say wearing masks has been scientifically shown to slow COVID-19.

This includes in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues.

Casinos, bowling centers and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with total capacity capped at 100; food and drink concessions closed; and social distancing requirements in place.

The new order is effective Monday, Dec. 21 and will last until Friday, Jan. 15.

“These past few weeks, Michiganders across the state stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, and because of our collective hard work, we are now able to begin the steps to carefully lift some of the protocols we have in place,” Whitmer said. “I am encouraged by the progress we have made since early November, and will continue to monitor the data closely during and after the holidays. One of the most important things Michiganders can do right now is make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eradicate this virus together.”

“We have made some progress in our fight against this pandemic, and this was a historical week as we started to distribute life-saving vaccines,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “It is important that everyone continues to do their part. Start planning for when you will get a vaccine when it is available to you, and let’s avoid a surge in cases after the holidays by avoiding gatherings, wearing our masks, and continuing to socially distance.”

Previously, MDHHS had identified stabilization or declines in three metrics as critical for relaxing protocols. Michigan saw improvements across all three following the “pause” implemented in mid- November:

• Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients:13-day decline; current capacity is at 17.3% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 20.1% on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

• Overall case rates: 27-day decline; currently at 439 cases per million. Peaked at 739 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14.

• Positivity rate: 11-day decline; currently at 10.6% positive tests. Recently peaked at 14.3% on Friday, Dec. 4.

Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households.

MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department.

Families are encouraged to stay home this holiday season to maintain the positive momentum that has developed and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using new guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery. Colleges and universities will be able to have students return to campus for the winter semester, with a voluntary commitment to wait until Jan. 18 to restart in-person courses.

Gyms remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Outdoor group fitness and outdoor non-contact sports will again be allowed, including running, downhill and cross-country skiing.

Under this new order, reopened indoor entertainment venues will not be required to collect names and contact information. With the amount of community spread that currently exists across the state and the heavy burden on contact tracing teams to keep up with these cases, it has become too challenging to meaningfully use this data for timely follow up. As case counts fall and contact tracing becomes able to keep up with the volume again, MDHHS expects to reinstate this information-gathering requirement.

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so.

Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal- care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.


Current pandemic restrictions extended 12 days to ‘determine full impact of Thanksgiving holiday’


Posted Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 — 3:00 PM EST
THE HURON HUB

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has extended the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities by 12 days.

“The additional 12 days will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan,” a statement from MDHHS said.

Under the order, MDHHS urges families to avoid indoor gatherings, and only two households may gather inside, with strict protocols recommended.

Individuals should wear masks consistently whenever they are inside with individuals not in their household, and are recommended to pick only a small group to see regularly.

Bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service, but can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. Gyms are open for individual exercise with mandatory masking and additional strict safety measures.

Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes remain closed.

Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators. Colleges, universities and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes.

“Hope is on the horizon, but we need an additional 12 days to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “This is all about protecting our families and frontline workers until we eradicate this virus once and for all. With recent daily case counts averaging well above 6,000, the daily death toll at alarming levels and the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed, we must work together as Michiganders and listen to our health experts. This may be the most difficult time yet in our struggle with COVID-19, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

The order will keep existing measures in place through Dec. 20 and does not include a blanket stay-home action, according to Whitmer.

Employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, including those in manufacturing, construction and health occupations.

Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open.

Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

MDHHS also identified three key metrics that will be utilized in determining whether to slowly reopen at the end of the 12 days. S

Specifically, the department will be looking closely at the percentage of hospital beds with COVID patients, the number of COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate.

With improvements in those numbers in context, MDHHS says it will carefully reopen, with in-person learning at high schools first.

“Next in line will be entertainment venues where people can maintain consistent masking, such as casinos, theaters and bowling, with concessions closed,” MDHHS said.

Before Thanksgiving, Gov. Whitmer sent a letter to the Michigan Legislature seeking their support and asking them to pass a COVID relief package to help families and businesses across the state, which included a permanent extension of unemployment benefits.

She has also called for the Legislature to pass bills to require masks in public.

Last week, the State Budget Office sent the Appropriations Chairs in the Legislature an additional request to provide supplemental funding in the current budget for additional COVID response needs for testing, contact tracing, PPE, hospital staffing, support for nursing homes and veterans homes and funding to quickly begin distributing vaccines to our highest risk residents as soon as the vaccine becomes available.


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Whitmer to host 2:30 p.m. press conference Monday on coronavirus response


The Huron Hub
Posted Monday, Dec. 7, 2020
11:15 AM EDT

Gov. Whitmer will host a 2:30 p.m. live streaming update Monday afternoon on Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Whitmer will be joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Robert Gordon, MDHHS director.

The live stream will be broadcast on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


MDHHS updates guidance on COVID-19 quarantine period based on new CDC findings


Posted by The Huron Hub
Friday, Dec. 4, 2020

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has updated guidance on COVID-19 quarantine periods based on scientific findings released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

The CDC presented findings describing options to reduce the required number of quarantine days for individuals with known exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case. The existing 14-day recommendation was based on earlier data that estimated the COVID-19 incubation period. At the national level, estimates of the COVID-19 incubation period have been refined based on a review of case data for hundreds of thousands of cases.

Data from that assessment indicates that 99% of all infections will develop within 10 days of exposure. While a 14-day quarantine period is still standard, under certain conditions the CDC has presented an option for reducing the quarantine period for exposed individuals to 10 days after exposure.

Based on the evaluation of the CDC information, MDHHS is updating guidance to allow modifications to the quarantine period for Michigan residents in specific situations. While the standard 14-day quarantine period remains, it can be reduced to 10 days if the following two conditions exist:

• The individual does not develop any symptoms or clinical evidence of COVID-19 infection during daily symptom monitoring for the 10 days after the last exposure.
• Daily symptom monitoring continues through day 14 after the last exposure.

“We are basing this recommendation on scientific data from CDC and offering the opportunity to reduce the quarantine period to 10 days in certain circumstances,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Public health officials can still require the 14-day period as this option most greatly mitigates the possibility of transmission. We strongly urge the continued use of masks, social distancing and hand washing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

With consideration for existing and potential limitations on the availability of testing resources and concerns of increased turnaround time for lab results, MDHHS is currently reviewing options for further reduction of quarantine periods based on diagnostic testing results. MDHHS guidance may be updated at a later date based on that review.

Article source: state of Michigan


Huron School District suspends in-person learning through Jan. 15

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Posted by Scott Bolthouse
The Huron Hub
Dec. 2, 2020

The Huron School District announced Tuesday that in-person learning for all grades will be suspended through Jan. 15.

The district was already on a two-week pause when the decision was made this week to continue the suspension of face-to-face classes.

Donovan Rowe, superintendent of Huron School District, explained the decision in a letter to parents posted Tuesday.

Letter summary:

-Huron School District is suspending face-to-face instruction for all students (K-12) through Jan. 15, 2021.

-Students will be working remotely during this time and will be scheduled to return to in-person instruction on January 19, 2021.

-Recently, the Wayne County Health Department issued a Public Health Advisory pertaining to school districts in Wayne County. This advisory has a direct impact on schools and instructional programming.

-Advisory outlines direction from Wayne County Health Department to all Wayne County school districts to temporarily shift to a remote learning model through Jan, 15, 2021.

-Wayne County Public Health Director calls for the suspension of extra-curricular sports and related school sponsored gatherings during this time.

-During online learning, students will continue to learn remotely 5 days per week, with synchronous instruction every day.

-District Food Service will be continuing their pick-up service model; Pick-up will take place on Mondays and Thursdays.

You can read the superintendent’s full letter by visiting this link




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Whitmer to give update on coronavirus response Tuesday afternoon


The Huron Hub
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020
11:15 AM EDT

Gov. Whitmer will host a 2:30 p.m. live streaming update Tuesday afternoon on Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Whitmer will be joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The live stream will be broadcast on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


 

Officials urge Michigan residents not to panic buy during ongoing pandemic

(Photo/Wesley Tingey/Unsplash.com)


Posted by Scott Bolthouse
The Huron Hub
Nov. 24, 2020

Michigan officials are urging residents not to panic buy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Supply chain officials are responding to recent reports that consumers are buying larger quantities than necessary at stores.

Panic buying, especially items like toilette paper and sanitizing products, is on the rise in the U.S., according to a Nov. 20 report from Reuters.

“Michigan has an ample supply of food products and other items. But, when shoppers panic buy products like toilet paper, paper towel and other items, it creates a ripple effect within the supply chain,” said Gary McDowell, director of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Buying what your household will use for the week keeps the supply chain moving, ensures everyone has access to what they need and allows the stores to replenish shelves for your next shopping trip.”

According to McDowell, COVID-19 has changed everything about how people come together, especially with the holidays right around the corner.

“The impact of this pandemic has not been easy, and it is not over as we see rampant community spread,” he added. “One thing we can all do to help each other during this time is buying only what you need. This ensures your friends and neighbors have access to food and other necessary products during this pandemic.”

Signaling evidence of consumers starting to panic shop at levels first seen during the early months of the pandemic, William Hallan, CEO and president of Michigan Retailers Association, urges Michiganders to limit purchases to a week’s worth of supply.

“Retailers across the state continue to work hard to restore and maintain product levels in stores to meet the demand in communities,” said Hallan. “Consumers need to know that stores, particularly grocery stores, will remain open. Consumers should plan for essentials in weekly increments to ensure that supply levels remain steady over the next few weeks. As retailers continue to do their part to keep retail environments safe to shop, we are asking consumers to do their part by limiting quantities to ensure there is enough for everyone.”

If consumers are leery about shopping in person, Hallan encourages consumers to consider using services like curbside pick-up and home delivery.

Meijer, which has 120 Supercenters and grocery stores throughout the State of Michigan, continues to focus on keeping ample supply for its customers.

“Our goal is to have everything our customers need, and our supply chain and store teams are working very hard to keep our shelves stocked during these busy times,” said Todd Weer, senior vice president of Meijer stores. “As long as shoppers buy the number of items they normally would, then everyone should be able to check off the items on their grocery list when they visit the store.”


 

Romulus Fire Department donates 1,500 cloth masks to churches

The Romulus Fire Department, with support from the Romulus Ministerial Alliance, delivered 1,500 cloth masks to four churches in the city of Romulus over the weekend. (Photos courtesy city of Romulus)

Posted by Scott Bolthouse
The Huron Hub
Nov. 23, 2020

The Romulus Fire Department, with support from the Romulus Ministerial Alliance, delivered 1,500 cloth masks to four churches in the city of Romulus over the weekend.

In addition, the fire department plans to distribute 2,500 masks to Romulus’ ministerial community, for a total of 4,000 masks.

The Romulus Fire Department participates in the “Mask Up, Michigan” campaign as a community action agent, allowing the department the opportunity to provide free masks to the community.

In August, the fire department acquired 3,000 cloth masks and delivered throughout the community to senior centers, the Romulus Public Library and City Hall.


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Metroparks offering free admission on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays through Dec. 8

A trail in Oakwoods Metropark in New Boston seen here on Oct. 29, 2020. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are offering free admission on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through Dec. 8. (Photo by Kyle Meeker)

Posted by Scott Bolthouse
The Huron Hub
Nov. 19, 2020

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are offering free admission on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through Dec. 8.

“As we continue to face uncertain times, your Metroparks are committed to staying a place you can count on to connect with nature, enjoy the fresh air, learn something new, exercise and more – all with plenty of space to practice social distancing,” a statement from the Metroparks said.

Toll booths will remain staffed to answer questions, provide direction, and allow visitors the chance to purchase a discounted 20201 annual pass.

Covid-19 precautions and requirements remain in place throughout the entire parks system.

Visit metroparks.com for more information about the parks.


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