‘Futures for Frontliners’: Michigan governor introduces program to provide free college to essential workers

More details to come

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Michigan Governor's Office.)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer highlighted a new program to help essential workers receive a college education on Wednesday.

Whitmer laid out the program during a coronavirus (COVID-19) press conference.

The "Futures for Frontliners” program aims to provide a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate to essential workers.

READ: Michigan announces plan to offer free college to essential workers

Essential workers include hospital and nursing home staff, grocery store workers, child care workers, critical infrastructure workers, people manufacturing personal protective equipment, workers protecting public safety, workers picking up trash and people delivering supplies.

Officials will provide more information about the program at a later date.

During the press conference, it was also noted that that coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, week-to-week, is up 50 percent.

About 6,800 people are being tested per day.

April 29 update -- Michigan COVID-19 cases up to 40,399; Death toll now at 3,670

Both Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the state has been flattening the COVID-19 curve.

Officials now are focused on safely reopening workplaces while protecting employees.

Earlier this week, Whitmer introduced the “MI Safe Start Plan,” which includes reopening businesses based on data, as well as the risk level of restarting work.

READ: What does the “MI Safe Start Plan” mean for reopening Michigan?

She also requested a 28 day extension of the State of Emergency. That is set to expire Thursday.

The Legislature and Whitmer have been debating that extension, with the Legislature threatening to not approve it if the governor doesn’t move more quickly with reopening the state.

MORE: Extending State of Emergency is not the same thing as extending stay-at-home order

Specifically, the Legislature wants construction and non-emergency medical procedures.

Whitmer said Wednesday that construction can resume May 7. She said she will sign an Executive Order on Friday.

Last week, Whitmer announced an extended stay-at-home order that had loosened restrictions so some workers, including landscapers and people who work for lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops, could get back to work.