COVID-19 Updates

POAM is sharing the latest COVID-19 updates that are affecting our great state of Michigan. Below are multiple updates from Governor Gretchen Whitmer on the state-wide closures and information for you to know. We will continue to update this post with the necessary information.

This information is sourced from the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor’s email newsletter sent on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Thursday, March 26, 2020 Update

On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Governor Whitmer gave an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). She was joined by Chief Medical Executive Dr. Khaldun to discuss her Stay Home, Stay Safe order as well as the state’s work to acquire more personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers on the frontlines. Despite the lack of federal help to secure the necessary equipment, the governor has worked to get the following:

A list of Essential Medical Supplies secured in Michigan

The Governor’s Letters

The Detroit News: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pens message to Michigan residents amid coronavirus crisis:

In just two weeks, we have gone from 0 to more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. During these difficult times, we must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and ensure care for the most people possible. COVID-19 is a highly contagious novel virus. There is neither a cure nor a vaccine. To make matters worse we have too few tests, masks, swabs, gloves, and gowns. The only tool we have right now to save lives and protect our families is to stop spreading it.

These aggressive actions weigh heavily on me. Every step has been informed by our Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, and health care experts from across the country. Our actions – some of the strongest in the nation – will buy time to prepare surge capacity in hospitals, ramp up testing, and develop therapeutic drugs that may lower hospitalization and fatality rates.

We also need YOU to do your part, if you’re not a part of the essential infrastructure or able to volunteer: stay home. COVID-19 can’t spread person to person if you’re not out there. Nobody is immune. It is possible to carry this virus without knowing it. If you do not take it seriously, this will continue longer than it needs to.

We are working to prepare for the long-term economic challenges of this crisis. From expanding unemployment, to helping our businesses get back on their feet, coming back won’t be easy and it will take time. We are working with the business community to help Michigan businesses and employees in this unprecedented crisis.

Take every precaution and protect those around you. Every time you wash your hands and every time you stand six feet from others could mean one less day of this crisis. This is a test unlike any we’ve seen before. We will get through this. Stay home. Stay safe. Save lives.

The governor sent a letter to the president requesting a major disaster declaration during the COVID-19 pandemic. If granted in full, among other things, a major disaster declaration would help the state provide meals to families who need them and provide rental assistance and temporary housing to families. It would also allow the state to provide counseling and therapy for Michigan residents whose mental health is affected by COVID-19, whether they or a loved one gets sick or hospitalized. Additionally, the declaration would provide much-needed additional capacity and funding to the state in the event Michigan needs to quickly set up field hospitals or other facilities.

Virtual Town Hall

On the night of Wednesday, March 26, the governor hosted a virtual town hall with Wood TV 8 to hear directly from Michiganders about their concerns regarding COVID-19. From child care to testing capacity she answered questions and urged people across the state to do their part to stop the spread.

New Cases

On Wednesday, March 25, the Department of Health and Human Services announced 564 new cases of COVID-19 bringing Michigan’s total cases to 2,856. Additionally, MDHHS released a cumulative number of specimens tested for COVID-19 in the table below:

Chart of the Cumulative Number of Specimens Tested for COVID-19

Michiganders who are unsure of what do to if they are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness should follow the steps below provided by MDHHS.

What to do if you have COVID-19 infographic from the Michigan HHS Department

Additionally, the governor, MDHHS, and the CDC are urging people to continue to take the following basic measures to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Happening Across State Government

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell reminded Michiganders yesterday that most components of the food and agriculture sector are part of the nation’s critical infrastructure and remain open and operating under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order that took effect at 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

“All food, dairy, and agriculture-related activities are considered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to be part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and all aspects of food and agriculture production and distribution must continue to keep the supply chain moving,” said McDowell. “This means food processors, truckers, grocery stores, restaurants, and convenience stores will still be open and running to serve their customers, although many have modified their operations and hours of business to protect the health and well-being of their staff and communities. It also means farmers will continue preparing for the 2020 growing season, readying farm fields for planting, and ramping up to harvest early crops like asparagus and strawberries.”

The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity continues to field large numbers of unemployment claims in light of COVID-19. Yesterday, they shared this helpful graphic to make the process easier for Michiganders.

Unemployment Insurance Agency Infographic Regarding COVID-19The Michigan Department of Transportation will not be accepting cash payment for any vehicles conducting essential travel via the eastbound Blue Water Bridge (BWB) to Canada. All commercial traffic will need to pay by prepaid commuter account cards or debit/credit forms of payment.


This information is sourced from the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor’s email newsletter sent on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

Sunday, March 22, 2020 Update

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 249 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total to 1,035. To view a full list of cases and their county, click here.

After placing a temporary ban on certain places of public accommodation, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-20 which makes clear that all facilities that provide non-essential personal care services must temporarily close. These services include hair, nail, tanning, massage, spa, tattoo, body art, and piercing services, and similar services that require individuals to be within 6 feet of each other. This order does not apply to services necessary for medical treatment as determined by a licensed medical provider.

“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented challenge to our way of life as Michiganders,” said Gov. Whitmer. “That’s why we are making decisions based on science and facts to protect public health and keep people safe. I know these changes will be hard, but they are temporary, and they are necessary to slow the spread of the virus and help save lives.”

On Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor Whitmer temporarily suspended evictions, allowing tenants and mobile homeowners to remain in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Families across the state are facing a number of uncertainties, from concerns about their health and well-being and that of their loved ones to when their next paycheck will arrive. Worrying about whether they’ll be evicted from their home, apartment or mobile home should not be on this list,” Governor Whitmer said. “This executive order will ease a burden on families struggling to make ends meet and allow them to focus on what’s most important — staying safe and healthy.”

As of March 21, 2020, it had been ten days since Governor Whitmer and Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Director Anita Fox called on the Trump administration to allow for a special enrollment period (www.healthcare.gov) under the Affordable Care Act to allow more Americans to sign up for coverage and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“During this crisis, we must do everything we can to ensure access to quality, affordable health care,” said Governor Whitmer. “That’s why we have called on the president to allow for a special enrollment period. It is more important than ever for Michiganders to know they have health insurance coverage that will pay for them to be tested and treated for COVID-19.

The governor announced temporary restrictions on non-essential medical and dental procedures beginning as soon as possible.

“My number one priority remains to flatten the curve and protect the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus,” said Governor Whitmer. “Our health care workers are on the front lines every day protecting Michiganders during these extraordinary and difficult times. By postponing all non-essential medical and dental procedures, we expect to reduce the strain on the health care system and protect people. My administration will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of the disease and ensure our children, families, and businesses have the support they need during these challenging times.”

Governor Whitmer was joined by Governor Mike DeWine and Governor Eric Holcomb to call on President Trump and Congress to ensure the automotive industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports are able to weather the rapid economic deceleration brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“As we work through this crisis as a nation, we must do what’s right to support our auto workers, who are the backbone of America’s middle class,” said Governor Whitmer. “We need swift action from the president and congress to confront these challenges and avoid devastating job losses. Our dedication to working families and businesses must transcend partisanship. That’s why we made this request together today.”

On Friday, March 20, 2020, the governor gave an update at the State Emergency Operations Center on the work the state is doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis. She also spoke about the role of each Michigander and how collectively we will get through this crisis together.

The governor joined both Governor Hogan and Governor Murphy to talk about the importance of social distancing, as well as other basic measures people can take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Happening Across State Government

As a result of COVID-19, the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has seen a tremendous increase in demand for Michigan’s unemployment system. The latest data shows 108,710 unemployment claims were filed between last Monday, March 9, and Friday, compared to a normal average of around 5,000 claims – an approximate 2,100% increase. States from around the country have experienced similar increases in unemployment claims as a result of COVID-19. Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) benefits are funded by a $4.6 billion trust fund which has been built up over the last 10 years.

“We understand that COVID-19 has caused economic harm to our workers as sacrifices are made to protect all of our residents. Extending and expanding unemployment benefits has provided emergency relief to many Michiganders,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “Even though we’ve seen an unprecedented need for emergency financial assistance, Michigan’s unemployment system, and its hardworking staff, continue to provide critical help online and over the phone. Michiganders impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic should continue to visit michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017 to apply for benefits.”

Michigan Resources: Department of Treasury & SOS Offices

The Michigan Department of Treasury announced that they are offering collections assistance to newly unemployed Michiganders currently paying past-due state tax debts or other state debts.

Starting today, March 22, 2020, 131 Michigan Secretary of State branch offices will be modifying current operations, returning to regularly scheduled branch hours, 9-5 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 11-7 on Wednesdays. They will remain closed on Saturdays. During this time in-person transactions will continue to be available only for critical services and by appointment.

“In our first-week offering limited services by appointment only, branch staff has carried out critical transactions for first responders, grocery store drivers, and medical personnel—people our society especially needs to be credentialed to work at this time,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “The best way to show appreciation for the service of our branch staff is to limit your in-person transactions to only those which absolutely must be done at a branch.”


This information is sourced from the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor’s email newsletter sent on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

New Executive Orders

Governor Whitmer, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Khaldun, and Michigan State Police Director Colonel Gasper spoke about the state’s ongoing response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On March 18, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-14, extending the deadline for Michigan residents to pay back taxes and avoid foreclosure on their property during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“This executive order will give families struggling to make ends meet real and immediate relief from the pressure of having their home foreclosed on while trying to focus on the health and safety of their loved ones,” Governor Whitmer said. “This order is the latest in a series of steps to protect the public, slow the spread of COVID-19 and give families comfort during these uncertain times.”

Additionally, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-15 to order a temporary 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 11:59 p.m.

“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.”

Additional Measures

On March 18, Governor Whitmer stopped by the Red Cross to donate blood. In light of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), they are in need of people who are able to donate blood.

Additionally, the governor, MDHHS, and the CDC are urging people to continue to take the following basic measures to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Happening Across the State Government

Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced several platforms and services to help Michiganders understand and have their questions answered regarding COVID-19. Each one is a great resource to stay informed.

Department of Treasury

The Michigan Department of Treasury announced on March 18 that effective immediately, small businesses scheduled to make their tax payments on March 20 can postpone filing and payment requirements until April 20. The state Treasury Department will waive all penalties and interest for 30 days.

“The past week has been hard for small business owners across the state as we work to mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “Allowing them more time to pay their monthly tax payments will help us provide some much-needed assistance. I will continue doing everything I can to ensure our small businesses have the support they need during this time. We will get through this together.”

Free Platform for Critical Health Suppliers

Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Pure Michigan Business Connect program is now offering a free, online procurement platform to assist suppliers of critical health and human services across a broad range of categories to access critical supplies and products as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The platform will make virtual introductions between vetted businesses within the state providing supplies including food, medical devices, paper products, cleaning equipment and more.

“This virtual matchmaking platform builds on the significant success of PMBC in providing supply chain sourcing solutions by supporting critical COVID-19 response efforts, as well as creating opportunities for small and medium-sized Michigan businesses,” said MEDC CEO Mark Burton. “This is part of a comprehensive effort to ensure that every possible resource is made available to service providers, businesses, communities, entrepreneurs, and others in the face of economic hardships resulting from coronavirus.”

Unemployment Insurance Agency

Lastly, the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) announced that beginning at 3 p.m on March 18th, it closed its lobbies to visits from the public, except for customers with appointments. These changes will remain effective as long as necessary for the health and safety of the public.


This information is sourced from the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor’s email newsletter sent on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Limited Closure of Public Spaces

On March 16, 2020, Governor Whitmer joined other governors from across the country in closing places of public accommodation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). She signed Executive Order 2020-9 instructed that the following places be closed by 3:00 PM on Monday, March 16th: 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.

The order clarifies the restrictions and provides 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. Places of public accommodation are encouraged to do so and use precautions to mitigate potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing. 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 disease is a challenge unlike any we’ve experienced in our lifetimes,” said Governor Whitmer. “Fighting it will cause significant but temporary changes to our daily lives. By practicing social distancing and taking aggressive action now, the state is working to mitigate the spread of coronavirus so we reduce the risk that our health care system becomes overwhelmed. This is about saving lives. Michiganders are tough and we are going to get through this, but it will require everyone doing their part. That means making smart choices and not putting yourself or others at risk by going out in public unless it is absolutely necessary.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel issued the following statement in support:

“My thoughts today are with the workers and businesses in our food and hospitality industries. It is heartbreaking that an industry built on service to others must be shut down to help protect and keep safe the families they call their customers and friends. In an effort to help them through this difficult and unexpected shutdown, I am asking our partners in the state and federal legislature to look for ways to help alleviate the financial impact of this shutdown. The Governor’s order was necessary and appropriate in light of the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves and we will be working with our state, county and local law enforcement partners to enforce the order. I am proud of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of workers who recognize the gravity of this situation and are responding quickly and without hesitation. We owe them our gratitude and support.”

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

Additionally, the governor signed Executive Order 2020-10 to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. This executive order is effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59 p.m.

Under the 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.

Limiting Large Social Groups & Events

The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-11, which prohibits all events over 50 people or assemblages in shared indoor spaces over 50 people beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 a.m. The order changes the temporary restrictions imposed on events and assemblages by Executive Order 2020-5, to correspond with the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“My number one priority remains to protect the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus,” said Governor Whitmer. “We are all better off when all of us are healthy, and that’s especially true for the most vulnerable. These aggressive actions are aimed at saving lives. My administration will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of the disease and ensure our children, families, and businesses have the support they need during these challenging times. We are going to pull through this together, just as Michigan has done in the past.”

“The purpose of the Executive Order, and taking actions like these, is to limit close contact between individuals because of the specific way the virus spreads through respiratory droplets,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “These are very difficult decisions, but I believe together we can work to make the necessary adjustments to contain the pandemic and support one another.”

Temporary Lift on Vehicles Carrying Essential Supplies

Last night, the Governor temporarily lifted weight and other delivery-related restrictions for vehicles carrying essential supplies to mitigate the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“These steps ensure that state, county, city and village road agencies are collaborating to be sure supplies vital to supporting COVID-19 relief efforts can be delivered quickly and efficiently,” said Michigan Department Of Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. “We are going to get through this by working together and taking collective action for the greater good.”

Wash Your Hands

Governor Whitmer is reminding everyone to wash their hands frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds. Lather, scrub, rinse, and dry with a clean towel. Pass it on to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Basic Safety Measures

Additionally, the governor, MDHHS and the CDC are urging people to continue to take the following basic measures to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Consumer Protection Intake Team

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that she will extend the hours of operation for her Consumer Protection intake team as the number of price-gouging complaints received by her office surges to more than 240 during the state’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

“I will not allow consumers to be taken advantage of during a public emergency,” Nessel said. “I encourage consumers to continue filing complaints with my office so that we can properly investigate these complaints and determine what legal action must be taken.”

Prepare, Not Panic

After the governor signed Executive Order 2020-9, the Michigan Department of Agriculture reminded Michiganders that this is a time to prepare, not panic. Flooding the grocery and convenience stores doesn’t allow them time to properly restock with the items consumers are looking to buy. The supply chain is intact, and the food and items are available, but giving time for the stores to take and replenish inventory is critical to ensure everyone has access to what they need at the store.

“It’s important Michigan takes the necessary steps to protect public health, but we also realize the importance of supporting local retail, eateries, and stores,” said Gary McDowell, director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director. “You can still get your favorite foods, just in a different way than before, as we work together to reduce the spread. I urge you to continue to support your area businesses, who are often the foundation of our local communities, by buying gift certificates for later use, getting take-out or delivery.”

Shutdown of MDOT

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will close the information lobbies at all Michigan Welcome Centers until further notice in accordance with both the Governor’s and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Department Office Closure

On March 16, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights announced they will close all offices to walk-in traffic, effective immediately until further notice. Individuals who have an appointment will be admitted to the Department’s offices.

RESOURCES

If you have any questions or concerns, please visit one of these resource links below:

Stay Alert

Please use this post as an informative guide for the COVID-19 updates. Share with others by messages, social media, and email.

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