05/23/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/23/2020 08:05
Saturday, May 23, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is developing very quickly, and I know many people have questions and concerns. I will try to answer some of them below.
These are incredibly stressful times for all Michiganders. I am working, along with my staff, around the clock, seven days a week to answer your questions, provide community resources and provide up-to-date, accurate information. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office anytime by calling (810) 238-8627.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended her executive order directing all Michigan families and non-essential businesses and operations to stay home through June 12, while at the same time beginning to open up sectors of our economy in a safe manner. More information can be found here.
On May 21, the Governor signed an executive order to allow gatherings of less than 10 people, open retail/car dealerships with appointment and allow nonessential medical service. More information can be found here.
COMMUNITY RESOURCES UPDATE:
All registered voters in the state of Michigan have the right to vote by mail. More information can be found here.
Local Flood Damage: The Governor declared a state of emergency for Arenac, Gladwin, Saginaw, and Midland counties. More information on the emergency declaration can be found here.
Local Flood Damage Assessments: Municipal officials are gathering information throughout the community to assess the damage from the recent rain and flooding. There are many homes, businesses and roads that were impacted. The Michigan State Police's Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division is working with local officials to respond to and monitor the current situation and American Red Cross resources have been deployed.
Michigan's Virtual Food Bank: Seniors in need of food support can sign up for assistance, including meal delivery, delivery of non-perishable food items, and daily wellness-check calls, through the MDHHS coronavirus website, or by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging. More information on the virtual food bank can be found here.
Flint Cares Help Centers: The city of Flint is offering resources and services including bottled water and food assistance. Services will continue to be provided from two semi-trailers staged in church parking lots across the city to distribute items directly to cars as residents drive through. For more information please call 810-410-2020 or visit here.
Map of Coronavirus Cases in Michigan: An up-to-date map of coronavirus cases in Michigan, provided by the Michigan State Police, can be viewed here.
Last week, the U.S. House of Represntatives passed The Heroes Act. The Heroes Act includes a number of key policies I have advocated for, including additional direct payments to families and seniors, expanding unemployment insurance, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and funding to prevent water shutoffs. More information can be found here.
On May 15, I introduced a bipartisan bill, the Recharge and Empower Local Innovation and Entrepreneurs Fund for Main Street Act (RELIEF for Main Street Act), with Reps. Evans (D-PA), Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Upton (R-MI). The bill creates a $50.5 billion Small Business Local Relief Program to provide direct federal support to cities, counties and states in order to seed and scale local relief funds and target small businesses with 20 employees or fewer, or with 50 employees or fewer located in low-income neighborhoods. More information can be found here.
On March 27, I voted in support of, and the President signed into law the CARES Act. The CARES Act goes a long way in providing immediate economic relief to workers, small businesses and our frontline hospitals and health care workers. More information can be found here. A full summary of the bill can be found here, a summary of the funding provisions can be found here and a more in depth section-by-section can be found here.
Congress has also passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to help families and health care facilities respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING UPDATE:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a website and app with a coronavirus screening tool and resources to help people protect their health. The website can be found here and the app can be accessed here.
The Walmart at 4313 Corunna Road in Flint, MI is offering drive-thru coronavirus testing. The site will be open to any adult who meets the CDC guidelines on who should be tested. All appointments will be done through a drive-thru and self-collection lane in the Walmart parking lot and is supported by Quest Diagnostics. More information can be found, here.
The Rite Aid at 9090 Miller Road in Swartz Creek is offering coronavirus testing. Testing will be available at no cost to individuals who meet the criteria established by the CDC, provide a government-issued ID, are 18 years or older, and pre-register online at www.riteaid.com to schedule a time slot for testing. The site will be open for testing 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., seven days a week, with approximately 200 tests conducted each day.
Hurley Medical Center staff are offering appointment-only coronavirus drive-through testing at Kettering University's Atwood Stadium in Flint. Testing is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Individuals must call Hurley's hotline at (810) 262-3685 to get an appointment for the testing. More information can be found here.
Kroger Health opened a free coronavirus drive-through testing site at the Grand Blanc High School parking lot. Testing will beMonday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information can be found here.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND HOUSING RESOURCES UPDATE:
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Deparment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have announced a new website to help renters and homeowners understand their housing assistance options. This includes information on mortgage and rental relief as well as resources for additional help that may be needed. More information can be found here.
On May 1, 2020, I introduced the Strengthening UI for COVID Impacted Workers and Students to expand unemployment insurance for American workers. This new legislation would address gaps in coverage for those who are willing and able to work, but who are unable to maintain employment due to the global public health crisis. For more information, visit here.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits: During the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment eligibility has been expanded to include those who are sick or caring for a family member as well as self-employed, contracted, and gig economy workers. Michigan's self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors, low-wage workers and those who left a job after accepting new employment but were unable to start their new position due to the pandemic can apply for federal benefits. Those eligible for these benefits should apply online at www.Michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017. Customers are encouraged to follow a filing schedule based on last name and use off-peak times (8 p.m. - 8 a.m). The UIA announced new resources to help workers resolve online technical issues with their account. More information can be found here.
Governor Whitmer has expanded the state's workshare program. More information can be found here.
New Information from IRS on Cash Payments: The IRS has begun distributing payments, beginning with individuals that have direct deposit already on file. These payments are distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. SS, SSI and Veterans beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file to receive a payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. For more information, visit here. A fact sheet with detailed information for SS and SSI recipients can be found here.
Payments to those who have passed away: The IRS has recently announced that cash payments made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions about repayments. For more information, visit here.
Direct Deposit Information: The IRS launched a new web tool to allow individuals who were not required to file a 2019 tax return to securly provide their bank information in order to receive their cash payments. For taxpayers who did file 2018 or 2019 taxes but do not have direct deposit information on file, the IRS relased a new tool for those individuals to enter that information as well as track the status of their cash payments.
Learn About and Report Coronavirus-Related Scams: The U.S. Treasury has set up a website where you can learn about ongoing coronavirus IRS related scams, along with new information about scams that may be still be out there. For more information, visit here.