by Becky Andrus | Mar 31, 2021 | Regional News
Tax day has moved to May 17th this year. Here’s some information to help ensure you’re able to file your taxes with as little headache as possible.
The IRS is encouraging individuals, if able, to file electronically to speed up your refunds.
Did you not get your prior COVID stimulus check(s), but think you should have?
To recap: Congress passed relief bills in March and December of 2020 which provided stimulus checks of up to $1,200 and $600, respectively. These checks went to individuals making $75,000 or less and couples filing jointly making $150,000 or less. Individuals making more than $75,000, and couples making more than $150,000, may qualify for portions of these checks.
The threshold for the previous stimulus checks was based on your 2018 or 2019 tax returns, even though the payments were technically advance credits on your 2020 taxes. So, if you made less in 2020, and should have qualified for the stimulus check, you may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return to claim it. Click here to do so.
Need help filing your taxes?
If your income is less than $72,000, check out the IRS’ Free File Program. You may be able to access filing assistance. Click here to check it out.
2020 wasn’t an average year, make sure you check out these resources. Visit this page put together by the IRS that provides helpful information.
by Becky Andrus | Mar 31, 2021 | Health and Wellness
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 31, 2021
MDHHS CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112, WuthC@michigan.gov
MDARD CONTACT: Jessy Sielski, 517-331-1151, Sielskij@michigan.gov
MDHHS and MDARD remind parents spring chicks may carry Salmonella
LANSING, Mich. – Health experts at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) are warning parents about the potential for baby poultry to carry Salmonella. Salmonella is a common bacteria found in the droppings of poultry and can cause illness in people. Salmonella germs may contaminate feathers, feet and beaks of birds, as well as cages, coops, and the environment where the birds live and roam.
“Washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling chicks and other poultry protects both you and your family from the risk of Salmonella, and also helps keep the birds healthy,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “Even birds appearing cute, healthy and clean can carry bacteria that can make people sick.”
In 2020, there were 17 nationwide outbreaks of Salmonella illness linked to contact with live poultry, causing illness in 1,722 people in 50 states. Of these illnesses, 24% were children younger than 5 years of age. Michigan reported 73 cases, and 18 cases (25%) were in children under the age of 18 years.
During spring, live baby poultry can be ordered from hatcheries or available at stores in a way that children may be able to reach and touch the birds or areas where the birds are contained. This is one way people become exposed to harmful bacteria that leads to illness. Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting four to seven days or more and infections can be especially serious for the very young, the very old and those with weakened immune systems.
Baby poultry have special requirements for warmth and protection. Backyard flock owners may not be aware of the risk of Salmonella from baby poultry and consequently, may keep the birds inside their home. Potential poultry owners should plan ahead to provide a proper space that is safe for the birds and for the people in the household by giving live poultry their own shelter outside of the home.
“In order to keep birds healthy, it is important to plan ahead,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “Before bringing them home, it is essential to create a suitable safe space for them to grow that can adapt to their needs as they continue to develop. Also, to ensure their continued health, make sure to identify a veterinarian that can assist in their care.” Follow these recommendations to protect your household:
- Children under 5, elderly adults and those with weakened immune systems should not touch or handle chicks.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling the birds or anything in their environment. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
- If handwashing is unavailable, use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored.
- Do not kiss the chicks.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eating, or drinking if you have not washed your hands after handling poultry.
- Do not keep live poultry inside the house where people live, eat or sleep.
- Do not give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.
It is also recommended to remain outdoors when cleaning any equipment associated with raising or caring for poultry, such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
by Becky Andrus | Mar 31, 2021 | Regional News
Governor Whitmer on President Biden Delivering Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Doses for Michigan
LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement after the White House announced that a substantial increase in doses of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine would be made available to Michigan starting next week. This action follows recent requests made by Governor Whitmer to the administration for more vaccines and will further help to mitigate the recent rise in cases.
In next week’s shipment, the Biden Administration will increase the state’s direct allocation by 66,020 doses for a total of 620,040 vaccines, a weekly record high for Michigan. This allocation includes 147,800 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In addition to the state’s direct allocation, the governor also applauds the millions of additional doses being sent to federally partnered retail pharmacies across the country, which includes numerous locations in Michigan.
“I’m so grateful to have a partner in the White House that has our backs here in Michigan. We know that the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective at preventing COVID-19. These additional doses of the safe, effective vaccines will help us slow the spread of the virus, return to normalcy, and continue building our economy back better. As we work closely with our state’s leading health experts to monitor COVID-19 trends, I’m asking Michiganders to double down on smart precautions. The pandemic is not yet behind us, but we’ve learned a tremendous amount about how to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We are moving forward with plans to ramp up testing for schools, businesses, nursing homes, and we recently surpassed four million doses of the vaccine in under four months. However, until we equitably vaccinate enough Michiganders 16 and up, everyone has to do their part. Wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, and as soon as you are eligible, get the vaccine. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in it. The only way out is forward and together. Let’s get it done.”
by Becky Andrus | Mar 31, 2021 | Regional News
Gov. Whitmer Increases Daily Vaccination Goal to 100,000 Shots Per Day
LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer raised Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination goal from 50,000 to 100,000 shots per day. The new goal is based on the state’s successful efforts to expand equitable and efficient vaccine administration by partnering with private and public organizations in communities across the state, and is made possible by continuous week-over-week increases in the number of vaccines allocated to the state of Michigan.
For 38 days, the state has met or exceeded its original goal of administering 50,000 vaccinations per day. To date, Michigan has administered 4,207,102 vaccines, moving the state closer to its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible.
“Michigan is making great strides as our rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines continues ramping up,” said Governor Whitmer. “The safe, effective vaccines are one of the best ways to protect you and your family from coronavirus, and they are essential to getting our country back to normal so we can hug our families, get back to work, send our kids to school, and get together again. These new, higher vaccine targets are a testament to what we can do together, and we need to meet them so we can keep rebuilding our economy. Thanks to capable leadership at the national level, heroic efforts by frontline workers who are working around the clock, and the dedication of millions of Michiganders, we will put this pandemic behind us. I urge everyone to continue doing their part with masks, social distancing, and hand washing, and when you are eligible, get your vaccine.”
In next week’s shipment, the Biden Administration will increase the state’s direct allocation by 66,020 doses for a total of 620,040 vaccines, a weekly record high for Michigan. This allocation includes 147,800 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In addition to the state’s direct allocation, the governor also applauds the millions of additional doses being sent to federally partnered retail pharmacies across the country, including numerous locations in Michigan.
“The state is working hand-in-hand with health care systems, local health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers, primary care providers and others to get Michiganders vaccinated with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Providers have administered more than four million doses in just four months and we praise and appreciate their willingness to serve their communities, and are confident they will meet and exceed the new 100,000 shots per day goal.”
by Becky Andrus | Mar 30, 2021 | Regional News
Great Lakes Governors call on Biden Administration to sustain support for critical water infrastructure
LANSING, Mich. – The governors of four Great Lakes states today urged President Joe Biden to prioritize federal investments in long-neglected water infrastructure to advance environmental sustainability and climate resilience, put Americans to work, and address structural inequities that saddle at-risk communities with some of the nation’s most daunting water infrastructure challenges.
In a letter sent to Biden, which Michigan was the first to sign onto, the governors lauded the American Rescue Plan Act’s $360 billion in direct aid to state and local governments and the inclusion of water and sewer infrastructure as acceptable uses for the federal money. “As your administration continues to develop and pursue its policy agenda, we respectfully encourage you to continue your emphasis on modernizing America’s water infrastructure,” reads the letter.
Maintaining this emphasis will help states create comprehensive water infrastructure programs with local, state and federal resources that can “spur and complement progress on COVID‑19 response, economic recovery, racial equity, climate resilience, and other top administration priorities.”
The letter was signed by governors JB Pritzker of Illinois, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Tony Evers of Wisconsin.
“As gateways to and guardians of the Great Lakes, we are all dedicated to modernizing and building resilient, climate-conscious water infrastructure,” said Governor Whitmer. “The health of our families, 21% of the world’s fresh drinking water, and 51 million jobs depend on our immediate, collective action. We ask for your partnership and prioritization of critical water infrastructure going forward. We are grateful for the American Rescue Plan’s significant aid to our communities and await the bold infrastructure elements laid out in the Build Back Better plan and proposed in the President’s budget.”
The letter outlines the many challenges of communities struggling to maintain old water treatment and management systems across the Great Lakes states. From dam failures to water main breaks, to emerging pollutants like PFAS and high water levels exacerbated by climate change impacts, states face a daunting array of new challenges to already-stressed systems.
More than $2 trillion in national water infrastructure work will be needed in the next 20 years, the governors told President Biden. “It is time to think big” in order to meet the President’s challenge to “build back better” the letter concludes. “We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you and your team the scale, scope, and contours of a major water infrastructure initiative that would exemplify your commitment.”