By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is continuing to loosen restrictions of the state's Stay-at-Home order. Whitmer signed Executive Orders May 21 partially reopening businesses, permitting gatherings of up to 10 people, and lifting medical restrictions throughout the state.

Executive Order 97 put in place stricter workplace safety protocols at outpatient health-care facilities to protect workers and patrons against the spread of coronavirus.

The Executive Orders modify the state’s Stay-at-Home order, currently in effect until May 28, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Under Executive Order 96, groups of 10 people or less may gather, effective immediately. Participants must practice social distancing and wear face masks in enclosed public spaces.

Retail businesses and vehicle dealer showrooms may reopen by appointment only on May 26. Businesses are limited to 10 customers inside at a time. Businesses must implement rules to protect their workers and customers from the spread of COVID-19. Workers are to be trained in the proper use of personal protection equipment and infection control procedures.

On May 29, non-essential medical, dental and veterinary procedures may resume.

Whitmer said she plans to announce a short-term extension of the Stay-at-Home order in the next few days.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the stay-at-home Executive Order through May 28, is reopening the manufacturing industry in Michigan, and announced a plan to reopen the state in phases.

Executive Order 77 extends the stay-at-home policy for non-essential employees through May 28 and allows manufacturing to phase into returning to the labor force beginning May 11. Manufacturers may resume operations once they have met state requirements for workplace safeguards for COVID-19. These requirements are detailed in Executive Order 77, which was signed by the governor May 7.

Gov. Whitmer also outlined a six-phase plan for re-opening the state. As of May 7, Whitmer announced Michigan is in Phase 3, the Flattening phase of the MI Safe Start plan, which is broken down into the following categories:

  • Phase 1: Uncontrolled growth
  • Phase 2: Persistent spread
  • Phase 3: Flattening
  • Phase 4: Improving
  • Phase 5: Containing
  • Phase 6: Post-pandemic

Click here for complete details on the six-stage plan to reopen Michigan.

Excerpted from news media

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued three new Executive Orders extending Michigan’s state of emergency through May 28 despite the Republican-led legislature voting against the extension. Challenging her authority, the legislature also voted to give themselves the power to sue the governor over her coronavirus response.

The new Executive Orders rescind earlier state of emergency and state of disaster orders which expired at midnight April 30. Under the state of emergency, Whitmer has authority to issue Executive Orders related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as the state’s stay-at-home order effective through May 15.

Republican legislative leaders said legislative approval is necessary to extend the state of emergency. Whitmer’s Executive Orders detail the governor's legal authority under sections of the Emergency Management Act of 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945.

For more information, please click these links to:

The governor's Executive Orders remain in effect unless a court order determines otherwise. MAFF will keep members posted as more details unfold. Stay Safe!

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the “Futures for Frontliners” program April 29, providing essential workers a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate if they don’t have a college degree. She also urged leaders in Congress to support U.S. Sen. Gary Peters’ Heroes Fund proposal to provide hazard pay to frontline workers who provide life-saving care, food and other critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer said she hopes other states will follow suit with programs similar to “Futures for Frontliners” to recognize their essential workers for putting their lives on the line during the pandemic.

MAFF previously reported on Peters’ efforts to support frontline workers by reaching out to FEMA in a March 31st letter about the dire need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers. Peters’ Heroes Fund proposal calls for up to $25,000 in hazard pay for essential workers and presses for additional protective gear and other measures to help ensure the health and safety of frontline workers.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the stay-at-home Executive Order until May 15 with new exceptions for lower risk businesses and activities.

The new Executive Order, signed April 23, allows golf courses, landscaping businesses, lawn service companies, bike repair shops and plant nurseries to resume operations. The order resumes sales of non-essential supplies so large retailers may reopen garden centers and areas of their stores selling paint, carpeting and flooring. Non-essential retailers may reopen, providing only curbside pickup or delivery. 

Stores open to the public must continue to limit the number of customers inside their businesses. All businesses must provide non-medical grade masks to in-person employees and practice social distancing and customers are now required to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth in enclosed areas.

Gov. Whitmer said it is not a crime for customers not to wear a cloth facemask or similar covering, however, stores may refuse entry to anyone not complying with her order. Six-foot social distancing continues outdoors as well.

In-person activities that do not sustain or protect life are still prohibited except for critical jobs and resumed activities in the new Executive Order.

Some new exceptions include travel between Michigan residences and motorized boating. However, Whitmer strongly discouraged unnecessary travel between residences to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The order excludes the operation of golf carts at golf courses. 

Whitmer said the state is increasing COVID-19 testing and tracing and will also be monitoring the number of cases. If  there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Governor said, she may reduce some of the new exceptions.

Click here for the complete April 23 stay-at-home Executive Order.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the length of time Michigan residents are to stay at home until April 30 and added more restrictions for individuals and businesses under the Extended Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order.

Whitmer signed the new extended order, which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. April 9. The original Executive Order was scheduled to expire on April 13.

The extended order includes more restrictions for stores. Big box stores must close off specific areas inside the stores for non-essential items including: carpet, flooring, paint, furniture, garden centers and nurseries. Stores are restricted to limiting the number of people inside at the same time, based on the square footage of the store. Stores also must establish marked areas to stand in line, enabling customers to stand at least 6 feet apart.

Under the order, individuals should limit the number of household members running errands. Among other new restrictions, residents will no longer be permitted to travel between two residences in the state effective after April 10.

Please click here for the Extended Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order for more information.

The Michigan House and Senate extended Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency order powers until April 30 during two sessions April 7 in which legislators took precautions to distance themselves from each other to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Whitmer had recommended the emergency order powers be extended for 70 days, but the legislature approved the 23-day extension instead.

Click here for more information in an Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) Breaking News article shared by Karoub Associates.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters wrote a letter March 31 to the Administrator of FEMA and the U.S. Attorney General detailing the urgent needs of medical workers, law enforcement and first responders and their inability thus far to obtain adequate amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE).

"I urge you to work together to ensure that these workers have access to PPE as our country works to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Peters wrote in the letter. "Frontline personnel across the country have not received the protection they desperately need as they risk their own safety to perform essential duties in their communities. In a survey recently published by the United States Conference of Mayors, approximately 91.5% of the responding cities do not have an adequate supply of face masks for their first responders, including police, fire and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and medical personnel, and 88.2% do not have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect these workers."

Please click here for the complete letter, including Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff's Office confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as questions Peters posed about FEMA and the Department of Justice response to these urgent PPE needs.

By Bryan Davis, MAFF Legal Analyst

Due to the widespread economic impacts realized as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), federal funding has been a subject of significant concern and importance. Over the past several weeks, emergency federal funding has been allocated towards combating the spread of COVID-19 and, at this point in time, funding has occurred through two separate bills.

The first phase of federal funding was found in an emergency spending bill, aimed at bolstering response efforts to the outbreak of the coronavirus, with approximately $7.8 billion being allocated to directly address the outbreak and another $500 million allocated to extend telemedicine services to seniors. Notably, the bill also appears to dedicate $300 million to ensuring the purchase of vaccinations when such vaccinations become available.

The second phase of emergency federal funding was found in the form of the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” signed into law March 18, 2020. The Families First Act was primarily aimed at addressing issues such as unemployment benefits and paid sick leave. Specifically, the Families First Act provides that, for employers with more than 50 employees and less than 500 employees, two weeks of paid sick leave are to be provided if such employees are confronted with the coronavirus, including: medical diagnosis; quarantine due to COVID-19; symptoms from COVID-19; care for another who is quarantined; or care for children due to school or childcare closing due to the coronavirus.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) introduced legislation to improve the latest package to address the Coronavirus pandemic and helped the Senate pass this bipartisan legislation. The third Coronavirus package includes Peters’ legislation to expand unemployment benefits and support small businesses, hospitals and health care professionals.

The bill includes Peters’ Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act, which would create an unemployment compensation program to provide federally funded benefits to people unable to work because of COVID-19. It would expand who is eligible for unemployment to include workers who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits or other workers who would not usually qualify, such as self-employed workers like small business owners, freelance workers, independent contractors, and seasonal workers as well as individuals who’ve recently started or were about to start a new job. Workers could receive benefits for up to 39 weeks.

Click here for more information on Peters' involvement in the coronavirus legislation.

More state funds were approved for coronavirus (COVID-19) response. The Legislature approved $125 million additional General Fund dollars for coronavirus response with $50 million specifically set aside to expand health care capacity before recessing until March 25 and scaling back session days to just one day per week through mid-April. With COVID-19 impacting governments, schools, businesses and the public, the effects are crippling Michigan as well as the entire country. Some actions taken by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to curb the spread of COVID-19 include: Healthcare workers, police, sanitation workers, correctional officers, postal workers and other key governmental employees will be able to drop their kids off at emergency, unlicensed day care operations from now until April 15. Employers and schools will be allowed to maintain a disaster relief child care center without a state license for those people working that is defined as “essential” jobs. The entire U.S.-Canada border will be closed to non-essential traffic and so willl the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Some Amtrak routes affecting Michigan are being modified. The Governor has requested the U.S. Small Business Association issue an Economic Injury Disaster declaration for the state and is in talks with Michigan companies about producing medical and other items needed for the coronavirus pandemic. She extended weight and other delivery-related restrictions for vehicles carrying essential supplies to mitigate the spread of the virus until April 13 at 11:59 p.m.

For more information on COVID-19 legislation and other recent legislation, please click here for the March 2020 Karoub Report.

The Department of Insurance and Financial Services is rolling out a new website and phone access to live personnel to Capital Building Lansing Croppedanswer questions about the new no-fault auto insurance reforms that take effect July 1, 2020. Vaping would be treated like a tobacco product under legislation (SB 781) introduced in the Senate. It is part of a six-bill bipartisan package of legislation that requires a license to sell vaping products, creates marketing restrictions, age verification, and changes the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. Democrats have proposed a package of bills (HBs 4386, and 5452 through 5456) that would increase financial and criminal penalties for companies that poison the air, water, and land while incentivizing corporate leaders to behave more responsively, according to a press release. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law SB 340 which allows people to fill their prescriptions at “remote pharmacies” staffed by a pharmacist available through a live video feed. A recent poll shows that a 60% majority of Michigan voters support moving to a vote-by-mail election system, with 32% opposed.

Click here for more on these issues and other legislative news in the February 2020 Karoub Report.