Legislative Update 11-13-20

As cases surge, health leaders urge mask use, social distancing

Leaders of the state’s major hospital systems warned Thursday of increasing strain on medical capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Michigan.

Wearing masks, avoiding indoor gatherings and practicing social distancing are essential, these health leaders said, to reversing the trends that have seen Michigan set ominous records for caseloads in recent days.

In remarks on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer echoed the health leaders’ comments on the need for Michigan residents to use masks and caution to avoid a virus that is now killing dozens each day in our state.

The state is aware of 747 active outbreaks, which is the highest it’s been since the state started keeping track, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical officer. Comparing figures from the beginning of this week, caseloads increased about 50 percent from the week prior, according to Department of Health and Human Services figures.

MAC members can track the status of COVID county-by-county with an interactive map on our website, micounties.org. MAC also released custom coding to each county this week by the data firm Munetrix that creates a county dashboard to help residents visualize the extent of the pandemic in their community.

For the latest news and resources on the pandemic in Michigan, visit our coronavirus resources page.


State is making inspection visits on workplace COVID compliance, expert reports

A workplace safety expert reminded counties this week that MIOSHA, the state’s workplace safety agency, is conducting “cold” visits to employers to ensure they are complying with state orders on the COVID-19 pandemic.

AJ Hale of CompOne made his remarks during a Michigan Counties Workers’ Compensation Fund Board meeting this week.

 “The MIOSHA ‘general duty’ clause requires an employer to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee. A general duty clause citation carries a fine of up to $7,000. On-site inspections conducted by MIOSHA’s general industry and construction industry enforcement divisions determined 10 companies allegedly committed serious violations by failing to implement necessary precautions to protect employees from contracting COVID-19. Deficiencies included a lack of health screenings, face coverings, employee training, cleaning measures and overall preparedness plans,” he shared via an email to MAC.

Hale noted that the state maintains a set of online resources at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety including posters for employees and customers, fact sheets, educational videos, a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan,  best practices that employees need to follow and a reopening checklist to help businesses put safeguards in place.

For the latest news and resources on the pandemic in Michigan, visit our coronavirus resources page.


NACo tools can help counties with CARES Act reporting

Authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136), the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) provides $150 billion in aid for state, county and municipal governments to address necessary expenditures due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Over the last month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has released several new documents that clarify eligible expenses and reporting requirements for CRF recipients. In addition to this evolving guidance, the December 30, 2020 deadline for recipients is fast approaching, meaning both CRF prime and sub-recipients must ensure funds are spent appropriately.

To assist county governments, NACo has hosted national calls with the U.S. Treasury and compiled resources to help navigate these changes and new processes.

MAC strongly encourages members to review these NACo resources.

For questions on CARES Act and state funding related to COVID response, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.


MDHHS launches media campaign promoting free mental wellness counseling

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has launched a public campaign  urging residents to seek relief from COVID-19-related emotional distress by talking to a trained crisis counselor and learning about other help available.

The “Be Kind to Your Mind” campaign promotes the use of Michigan’s free, confidential Stay Well counseling line, and aims to combat stigma associated with seeking help for feelings of depression, anxiety, anger or loss – all common during a disaster like COVID-19.

The Stay Well counseling line debuted on May 13 and is staffed with crisis counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can access the line by dialing Michigan’s COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 and pressing “8” at the prompt. The service is part of a federally funded grant program implemented by the MDHHS Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration in partnership with the Michigan State Police.

“Be Kind to Your Mind” says you can talk about the strain from COVID with trained counselors who are available for free if you call 888-535-6136 and press 8, or visit Michigan.gov/StayWell.

Language translation is available for non-English-speaking residents who call the counseling line.

To access other mental health resources for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, visit Michigan.gov/StayWell.


Take note of schedule changes for MAC, Legislative Update

MAC’s weekly email, Legislative Update, will take a two-week hiatus in November. The next LU email will be on Friday, Dec. 4.

Also, please note that MAC’s offices in Lansing will be closed to mark the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 26-27.

For the latest news from MAC, be sure to check our website.


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