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Tag Archive | "Governor Gretchen Whitmer"

Corona virus in Michigan: where we stand as of Wednesday, March 18


These empty shelves at the Cedar Springs Meijer are typical of what grocery stores are experiencing across the state due to shoppers stocking up in case of a total shutdown.

Things changed fast and furiously in Michigan from Friday, March 13 to Monday, March 16. And they continued to change quickly this week.

Michigan went from 12 cases of confirmed COVID-19 on Friday to 53 on Monday. As of Wednesday, there were 80, with five of those cases in Kent County and one in Montcalm.

On Friday, Governor Whitmer announced the closing of all Michigan schools for three weeks, from March 16 to April 5. Some districts then have spring break, bringing it to a total of four weeks. The Post asked Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Scott Smith if the teachers were sending home work for students.

“While we have pushed pause on formal instruction, we are providing families with resources they can use to continue to engage in the learning process,” he explained. “We recognize that parents and caregivers are not teachers. It would not be reasonable to expect that formal instruction can continue during this statewide suspension.”

The school (along with many in Kent County) is also offering free meal pickup and in some cases delivery for students. See page 2 for more info.

Meanwhile, people began raiding the grocery stores for food and supplies to hold them over in case of a total shutdown or quarantine. Things like milk, meat, hand sanitizer and toilet paper have been in short supply due to people buying extreme quantities.

The Kent County Health Department issued an emergency order on Sunday, March 15, 2020, reducing occupancy loads – or limits – for all licensed food service establishments, entertainment venues and physical fitness centers in Kent County by 50 percent, which went into effect Monday at 10 a.m.

But that quickly changed when on Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an order to take effect at 3 p.m. temporarily shutting down restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, brewpubs, distilleries, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, and casinos. This order does not restrict a place of business from offering food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. Restaurants may allow five people inside at a time to pick-up orders, so long as they stay six feet apart from each other. This order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on March 30, 2020.

Many restaurants are offering take out or delivery. Contact them or visit their Facebook page to see what options they are offering and help them stay afloat.

The state of Michigan also came out this week with some options on relief for those out of work due to the COVID-19 virus (see page 7) and some resources to support small businesses during this time (see our business pages on pages 14-15)

Also, the CDC issued new guidelines Sunday night advising against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. “We support the CDC in this recommendation, and we encourage individuals to minimize the size of public gatherings,” said Dr. Adam London, Chief Health Officer with the Kent County Health Department.

The Governor then signed an executive order this week limiting gatherings to 50 people or less.

Many businesses and municipalities are closing to the general public or restricting their available hours. The City of Cedar Springs is closed to the general public as of Tuesday, but can still be reached by phone and email. Face to face meetings will be by appointment only. 

The Post is also closed to the general public, but can be reached by phone and email. We also have a mailbox outside our front door for submissions.

We suggest you contact any business before visiting to see whether they have open business hours.

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Gov. signs order allowing public bodies to meet electronically


Governor Whitmer delivers a speech regarding the coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Whitmer).

LANSING, Mich. – On Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-15 to order a temporarily change to the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to conduct their meetings electronically, while also facilitating public participation, until April 15, 2020 at 11:59PM. 

“We are taking every measure we can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect Michigan families, but recognize that public bodies still have an obligation to conduct business as usual,” Whitmer said. “During this crisis, we must ensure that public officials can do their job to meet the needs of residents, while also ensuring that meetings remain open, accessible and transparent to the public.”  

Under Executive Order 2020-15, public bodies that are subject to the Open Meetings Act, including boards, commissions, committees, subcommittees, authorities, councils, and nonprofit boards, can use telephone- or video- conferencing methods to continue meeting and conducting business during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis, so long as they follow certain procedures to ensure meaningful access and participation by members of the public body and the general public. 

In order to maintain the level of transparency that Governor Whitmer has sought under previous executive actions taken during her first month in office, public bodies must meet the following criteria when holding a public meeting electronically: 

Ensure two-way communication for members and the public to hear and address each other. 

Provide adequate notice to the public of the meeting. 

Post a public meeting notice on their website. 

Permit participants to record or broadcast the public meeting.  

Allow participants to address the public body during a public comment period. 

The order also temporarily authorizes public bodies, departments, and agencies to use technology to enable remote participation in public comment and hearings, and temporarily excuses school boards from monthly meeting requirements.  

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Governor expands unemployment benefits for Michigan workers


LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-10 this week to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. This executive order is effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59pm.

Under the governors order, unemployment benefits would 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. 

“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families”, said Governor Whitmer. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I urge everyone to make smart choices at this time, and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

“We know that many families are and will experience economic pain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jeff Donofrio, Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “Our expansion of unemployment and workers compensation benefits is designed to help provide emergency support to Michigans working families.”

The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance.

Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended:

  • Benefits will be increased from 20 to 26 weeks. 
  • The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days 
  • The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.  

Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA   https://www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-78421_97241—,00.html ]or 1-866-500-0017. A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/uia/160_-_Claiming_UI_Benefit_In_Michigan_-_Jan2014_444213_7.pdf ]. 

Under the order, an employer or employing unit must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations. 

The order also expands the States Work Share program. Employers are encouraged to implement the program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. More information about Work Share can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/uia/156_-_Shared_work_fact_sheet_letter_426209_7.pdf.

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Corona virus in Michigan: where we stand as of Monday, March 16


Things changed fast and furiously in Michigan from Friday, March 13 to Monday, March 16.

We went from 12 cases of confirmed COVID-19 to 53. Three of those cases are in Kent County.

On Friday, Governor Whitmer announced the closing of all Michigan schools for three weeks, from March 16 to April 5. Some districts then have spring break, bringing it to a total of four weeks.

The Kent County Health Department issued an emergency order on Sunday, March 15, 2020, reducing occupancy loads – or limits – for all licensed food service establishments, entertainment venues and physical fitness centers in Kent County by 50 percent, which went into effect Monday at 10 a.m.

On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an order due to take effect at 3 p.m. temporarily shutting down restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, brewpubs, distilleries, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, and casinos. This order does not restrict a place of business from offering food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. Restaurants may allow five people inside at a time to pick-up orders, so long as they stay six feet apart from each other. This order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on March 30, 2020.

Many restaurants are planning to offer take out or delivery. Contact them or visit their Facebook page to see what options they are offering.

The Governor also offered relief to those forced not to work during this time by signing an order for expanded unemployment benefits. Those benefitting include: 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.

The Governor’s March 10 executive order prohibiting assemblages of more than 250 people still stands.

Also, the CDC issued new guidelines Sunday night advising against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. “We support the CDC in this recommendation, and we encourage individuals to minimize the size of public gatherings,” said Dr. Adam London, Chief Health Officer with the Kent County Health Department.

Many businesses and municipalities are closing to the general public or restricting their available hours. The City of Cedar Springs is closing to the general public as of Tuesday, but can still be reached by phone and email. Face to face meetings will be by appointment only.

The Post is also closed to the general public but can be reached by phone and email. We also have a mailbox outside our front door for submissions.

We suggest you contact any business before visiting to see whether they have open business hours.

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