Dear Friends,

These times are like no other in history and we will get through it together.

We have all had to make major adjustments in our collective efforts to protect our families, friends, and communities from the spread of COVID-19. I applaud all the people of Bay and Midland Counties for doing what they can to stay safe and support one another.

What to do if you believe you have contracted COVID-19

If you are concerned that you may have contracted COVID-19 you should call your healthcare provider first. Please start with a call, do not go directly to the doctor’s office. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call your local urgent care.

Although legislation was passed in Michigan to require insurance companies to pay for COVID-19 testing, MidMichigan Medical Center is providing free testing for all patients in their health system (insured/non-insured).

In addition, the folks at our local Health Department request that you stay home if you you do not feel well and if you get tested, stay home until you know the results of your test.

Helpful Resources

  • Our campaign is diverting our time and resources into whatever we can do to help our community. One of the needs is helping our home-bound neighbors in the “vulnerable population” run essential errands and pick up supplies. If you or someone you know needs this support, the Purple Team is standing by to help. Just email [email protected] or call 989–835–9800. It is our honor and pleasure to serve.
  • Our campaign is also coordinating community efforts to home-make face masks for those who need them like medical professionals, first responders and at-risk community members. If you are in need of a face mask or would like to help make them, please email [email protected]
  • You can obtain updates from the state of Michigan by visiting www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/.
  • If you have health questions about the coronavirus, please call the Michigan COVID-19 Hotline at 888–535–6136. The hotline is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • You can also email [email protected] 24/7. Emails will be answered 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • You can also call 211 to be connected with essential community services.

Connecting Families with Free Meals

Area schools are reaching out to all children under 18 who need assistance with food. Most schools are supplying breakfast and lunch. You can read about the programs for each school below.

Gov. Whitmer Expands Unemployment Benefits

  • If you have lost your job during the coronavirus outbreak, you can apply for unemployment assistance by clicking here or by calling 866–550–0017
  • You can find a full, step-by-step guide for applying by clicking here.
  • Due to high volume of call and web traffic, you may need to try applying online earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
  • Expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits effective immediately through April 14th. Benefits will be extended to:
  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill.
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.
  • Gov. Whitmer also extended the duration of unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks.

Assistance for Seniors

No matter where you live, 211 is a great resource to connect you with services. They can assist with services like Meals on Wheels.

If you live in Bay County you can contact the Department of Aging at 989–895–4100 or by visiting them on line here.

If you live in Midland County you can contact Senior Services at 989–633–3700 or by visiting them on line here.

Water Shut-Off and Billing Issues

The vast majority of local governments have suspended all water shut-offs to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The City of Midland will not be shutting off water to any household during this crisis. Please contact 211 if you won’t be able to pay your water bill.

Gas and Electric Shut-off and Billing Issues

Consumers and DTE Energy have stopped shut-offs for senior citizens and low-income eligible households until April 5th.

If you won’t be able to make a payment, contact them ASAP and they will help you establish a payment plan. Or call 211 for assistance.

Consumers Energy: 800–477–5050

DTE Energy: 800–477–4747

Gov. Whitmer Established Disaster Relief Child Care Centers for Healthcare Employees

  • Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order allowing employers, like hospitals, to operate a disaster relief child care center for their employees.
  • The order allows both public and nonpublic school facilities to be used for the purposes of maintaining a disaster relief child care center focused on providing services for health care workers, who have faced added challenges finding daycare.
  • MidMichigan Medical Center will follow Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order to expand capacity for tuition-based child care services for health care workers if/when the need is expressed. For other essential workers our local Midland County ESA is following the Governor’s effort to help mobilize and coordinate efforts to expand accessibility for child care services during this emergency partnering with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation and Michigan 211 to coordinate these efforts.

I commend Gov. Whitmer for taking action to expand capacity for child care services for these critical frontline workers. By expanding our ability to care for our children, we are allowing these men and women to continue working to protect our health and safety.

Expanding our Health Care Capacity

Tuesday night, the Legislature allocated $125 million to COVID-19 response efforts and to expand our health care capacity. Gov. Whitmer also expanded the number of available healthcare workers by licensing nursing aides and increased capacity by easing restrictions on the number of beds.

Temporary Restrictions on Non-Essential Medical and Dental Procedures

All hospitals, freestanding surgical outpatient facilities, dental facilities, and all state-operated outpatient facilities must implement a plan to temporarily postpone all non-essential procedures until the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency. This is to go in effect beginning as soon as possible and no later than March 21, 2020

Federal Tax Filing Extension for most Americans

The U.S. Treasury Department announced it will give people who owe $1 million or less, and corporations that owe $10 million or less, an additional 90 days to pay their 2019 federal income-tax bills.

The deadline for filing taxes has been moved back to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.

Some details are still being finalized, please check the IRS’s coronavirus page for updates here.

Gov. Whitmer Issues Tax Foreclosure Extension

If your property is in tax foreclosure, the Governor has extended the deadline to reclaim your property until May 29 or until 30 days after the lifting of the State of Emergency.

Gov. Whitmer Temporarily Suspends Evictions Notices

The Governor has signed an Executive Order that will allow tenants and mobile homeowners to remain in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic even if they are unable to stay current on their rent. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in effect until April 17 at 11:59 p.m.

Assistance for Small Businesses

Gov. Whitmer has also requested the United States Small Business Administration to assist small businesses during this crisis. More information will be available in the near future. In the interim, small businesses that could benefit from SBA loans are encouraged to start collecting the information they’ll need to complete and submit their application. Examples of information needed can be found here.

For additional information or to obtain help preparing the loan application in advance of the declaration please contact the Michigan SBA offices in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) call center stands ready to support businesses looking for assistance through other available state programs. For more information, visit the MEDC’s website or call 888–522–0103.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center can also provide resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Visit their website here for additional information

Combating Price-gouging

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is working to address price-gougers.

You can submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Consumers Protection team by calling 877–765–8388 or by visiting their website by clicking here.

The phone lines are usually open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours were extended earlier this week to keep up with demand and will be extended again from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Nessel’s office had received 572 price-gouging complaints as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, a business found to be price-gouging could face legal action, and be required to pay damages to consumers and civil penalties of up to $25,000 for knowing and persistent violations — if the store fails to comply with the Attorney General’s cease and desist order.

In addition, Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order makes specified price-gouging behaviors criminal misdemeanors, which can be prosecuted on top of civil action under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

I have been heartened to see so many families and communities across Michigan make drastic changes for the benefit of public health. We must continue to take care of one another by practicing good hygiene, social distancing, and do everything we can to flatten the curve, so our healthcare system is able to help those in need.

Thank you for making major adjustments to help protect our families, friends, and communities from the spread of COVID-19 during this difficult time.

We will get through this. Together.