Nessel and 51 other AGs Urge Congress to Pass Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act 

Nessel and 51 other AGs Urge Congress to Pass Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act 

Attorney General Dana Nessel

Media Contact:

Ryan Jarvi
(o) 517-335-7666 (c) 517-599-2746

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, May 21, 2020

Attorney General Nessel and 51 other AGs Urge Congress to Pass Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 52 attorneys general in urging Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act (SAFR Act). The Act would permit the families of first responders – who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19 – to receive the same federal benefits extended to first responders, or their survivors, otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty.

COVID-19 continues to affect communities across the state that first responders continue to support and protect. Current federal law would only allow survivors of a deceased first responder access to certain benefits if evidence is provided proving the deceased or permanently disabled first responder contracted COVID-19 while on duty.

In a letter sent to Congress today, Nessel and 51 other AGs urged quick passage of the SAFR Act. The letter states, in part, “When public safety officers are called to respond, they do not know whether they are coming into contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19. We have seen harrowing stories about how public safety officers have taken heroic actions to save the lives of others, knowing that they risked infection in doing so.”

“Our first responders run toward danger without hesitation and risk their lives day in and day out to protect us. COVID-19 has cast a layer of uncertainty, fear and pain for thousands of people in Michigan, but what remains certain is the unwavering commitment of those on the front lines of this crisis,” said Nessel. “This pandemic has forced us to accept the harsh reality that many of our first responders are paying the ultimate sacrifice. The least we can do is ensure that the families of these brave men and women do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits while they grieve the unfathomable loss of their loved one.”

The SAFR Act would establish a temporary presumption that officers contracted COVID-19 while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of a first responder’s last shift. The legislation ensures families of officers and first responders lost while fighting the pandemic do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits already promised under existing federal law.

This legislation is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. It recently passed the United States Senate and is currently being considered by the House of Representatives.

Attorney General Nessel joins the attorneys general of Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming in signing this letter.

Whitmer Administration Working to Provide COVID-19 Emergency Relief for Veterans

Whitmer Administration Working to Provide COVID-19 Emergency Relief for Veterans

Contact: Andy Henion 517-284-5228

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Administration is giving Michigan counties the option of using state County Veteran Service Fund (CVSF) grants directly for COVID-19 emergency assistance to veterans and their families.

The move, facilitated by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), will allow veterans in participating counties to make vehicle and home repairs, pay medical expenses, buy groceries and personal care items and meet other needs determined emergent. As part of this County Veteran Service Fund Emergency Relief (CVSF-ER) effort, the MVAA has also teamed with Midwest retailer Meijer to provide grocery vouchers to veterans in participating counties.

“We will do everything in our power to support Michigan’s veterans and their families who are struggling financially because of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Whitmer said. “We’re encouraging counties to use these state-appropriated funds to provide direct relief for these brave men and women to help them put food on the table for their families, make essential repairs to their homes and vehicles, pay doctor bills and meet other basic needs.”

As the state’s coordinating agency for Michigan’s more than 550,000 veterans and their families, the MVAA facilitates $6.4 million in CVSF grants to County Veterans Service Offices.

The emergency relief is available to counties that were previously approved for CVSF grants but now want to amend the grants to offer emergency relief directly to veterans. Some counties were slated to spend CVSF grants on veteran outreach and activities but were unable due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The emergency relief is also available to counties that either did not qualify or chose not to apply for CVSF grants.

Counties have the option of administering the CVSF-ER grant themselves or having MVAA act as their fiduciary and administer the funds directly to veterans on their behalf.

 

“The County Veteran Service Fund Emergency Relief program highlights our commitment to ensure that the needs of our veterans and their families continue to be met during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said MVAA Director Zaneta Adams. “This program will get much-needed assistance directly into the hands of veterans, either through the County Veterans Services Offices or through the MVAA, which is available to veterans and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MICH-VET.”

Through the emergency relief effort, MVAA is teaming up with Meijer to offer $50 and $100 grocery vouchers to eligible veterans in counties that opt into the voucher program. Vouchers can only be used to purchase food, paper products, laundry and household cleaning products, health and beauty care items and pet food.

In counties where MVAA has been given permission to act as fiduciary, MVAA will distribute vouchers directly to veterans. In that case, MVAA’s limit on the vouchers is $500 (no more than $250 per month).

Meijer worked closely with MVAA to ensure CVSF-ER purchasing guidelines were met on the vouchers and is assuming the cost of printing the vouchers.

“Meijer is committed to enriching lives in the communities we serve, and that holds especially true in today’s new normal,” Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said. “We are pleased to partner once again with the State of Michigan to ensure that veterans and their families can purchase the essentials they need.”

Counties interested in applying for a CVSF-ER grant can contact the MVAA’s Karen Rowlader at RowladerK@michigan.gov or Marie Douville at DouvilleM@michigan.gov.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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About the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency: Created by Executive Order in 2013, MVAA’s mission is to be the central coordinating agency, providing support, care, advocacy and service to veterans and their families. The agency works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, state departments, county agencies, and community and veterans service organizations throughout the state. The agency operates the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center, a 24/7/365 call center in partnership with Michigan 211. By calling 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838) veterans, family members and service providers can get information and access a comprehensive network of resources and services. Learn more at MichiganVeterans.com.

 

Homeowners, Businesses Urged to Call MISS DIG 811

Homeowners, Businesses Urged to Call MISS DIG 811

Contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300

The Michigan Public Service Commission today asked Michiganders — from homeowners doing backyard projects to businesses engaging in major construction — to not wait until the last minute to have underground utilities marked by MISS DIG 811.

 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order allowing construction projects to resume May 7 after being put on hold as part of her Stay Home, Stay Safe efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Construction can resume provided that employers adopt best practices to protect their workers from infection.

 

With spring weather arriving and homeowners turning to backyard projects, and with companies resuming construction, there’s pent-up demand for location marking for buried utilities including natural gas, telecommunications, electricity, water and sewer lines.

 

MISS DIG 811, Michigan’s nonprofit statewide underground utility safety notification system, is asking anyone doing big or small projects that involve digging to place calls to 811 or fill out a request online at www.call811.com up to two weeks in advance to make use of the 14-day window allotted under state law.

Anyone excavating is required by law to contact MISS DIG 811 no later than 72 hours in advance so that utilities can be marked by trained workers with spray paint or colored flags.

 

“If you know you’re going to dig in two weeks, don’t wait until 72 hours beforehand to contact MISS DIG 811,” said Bruce Campbell, CEO of MISS DIG System, Inc. “You can contact us two weeks in advance, which allows facility owners and their locators to be better prepared for increased volume in calls for locating underground utilities.”

 

Underground utility lines in Michigan are damaged during digging activities every year, causing service disruptions and putting lives and property at risk.

 

“No matter the size of the project, digging should only be done after a call to 811,” said MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg. “We strongly encourage Michiganders to help us do everything we can do to reduce the chances of people being injured or vital services being interrupted because someone struck underground utility lines.”

 

For more information go to www.call811.com or see the MPSC’s consumer tip on safe digging.

For information about the MPSC, visit http://www.michigan.gov/mpsc, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Governor Reopens Auto Dealerships and Retail Businesses by Appointment

Governor Reopens Auto Dealerships and Retail Businesses by Appointment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2020
Media Contact: Press@Michigan.gov

Governor Whitmer Reopens Auto Dealerships and Retail Businesses by Appointment, Authorizes Nonessential Medical, Dental and Veterinary Procedures

Governor’s order allows gatherings of ten people or less, with social distancing

LANSING, Mich. — 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.

To view Executive Order 2020-96 and Executive Order 2020-97, click the links below:

Governor reopens retail, restaurants, and offices in UP

Governor reopens retail, restaurants, and offices in UP

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The COVID-19 Update provides the latest news and resources to help community partners plan, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus outbreak.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmqBtSJEdns

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MDHHS Director Robert Gordon issued an Emergency Order Monday, May 18, finding that the procedures and restrictions in Executive Orders 2020-69, 2020-71, 2020-91 and 2020-92 are needed to control the COVID-19 epidemic, reinforcing the governor’s orders and allowing for civil fines of up to $1,000 and referral to licensing agencies for violations.


Take Action – How You Can Help

Contain COVID

Michigan is using a 1-2-3 plan to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. These tools are critical to reopening our economy while keeping our communities safe. By taking this seriously and doing their part, all Michiganders can be part of the solution.

Find a Job in Health Care

Health care organizations across Michigan are hiring full-time, part-time, and temporary staff to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteer & Donation Opportunities

You can make a difference to fight and slow the spread of COVID-19. Your time, talent and donations will have an impact now.


Resources

Mental Health Resources

If you’re feeling emotional distress caused by COVID-19, this page offers many ways you can connect to emotional-support services without leaving home.

How to Wear a Face Covering

Recommendations for the general public about how to use face coverings in the safest and most effective way.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Tool

Visual COVID-19 tool for deaf and hard of hearing.

Executive Orders & Directives

An updated list of the COVID-19 Executive Orders and Directives.