‘We simply cannot afford to wait’ -- Michigan governor proposes $100 million COVID relief plan

Whitmer pens letter to Republican-controlled Legislature asking for state-based stimulus

In this photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. Whitmer said Monday, Nov. 16 she has the authority to issue a second stay-at-home order to curb the spiking coronavirus if necessary, pointing to an epidemic-powers law that her administration has used since a setback at the state Supreme Court. Starting Wednesday, Nov. 18 high schools and colleges must halt in-person classes, restaurants must stop indoor dining and entertainment businesses must close. Gathering sizes also will be tightened. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP) (Uncredited, Michigan Governors Office)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants state legislators to approve a $100 million COVID-19 relief plan when they return to session during December.

View here: Whitmer’s letter to Legislature

The Democratic governor sent a letter to leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature asking for the state-based stimulus program that she said “will provide direct financial support to the families and small businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.”

Whitmer’s request comes as legislators are scheduled for a return to session on Tuesday until Dec. 17 and Congress has been deadlocked in negotiations over potentially billions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 assistance.

“Michigan families are hurting, and while we must continue to advocate for meaningful support from the federal government, we simply cannot afford to wait,” Witmer wrote in Wednesday’s letter.

Whitmer acknowledged that development of the program will be complicated by tax revenue losses that have state government facing a potential $1 billion shortfall next year.

Whitmer also asked lawmakers to permanently extend longer-lasting unemployment benefits. Legislators approved bills in October to lengthen state unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, from 20 weeks, but those expire at the end of the year.

The states Republican Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, shares some policy interests with Whitmer and wants the December session to “be focused on an agenda of needs, not wants,” spokeswoman Amber McCann said.

Coronavirus in Michigan

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 341,941 as of Friday, including 8,933 deaths, state officials report.

Friday’s update represents 17,162 new cases and 172 additional deaths over the last two days, since the state did not provide a report on Thursday due to Thanksgiving. Officials said 108 of the deaths reported Friday were identified during a Vital Records review and did not actually occur on Friday.

Over Thursday and Friday, the average number of daily cases was 8,581, and the average number of daily deaths was 86. On Wednesday, the state reported 324,779 total cases and 8,761 deaths.

READ: 97 takeaways from epidemiologist’s deep-dive into Michigan COVID-19 spread, deaths, future outlook

New COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Michigan. Testing has increased in recent weeks, with more than 45,000 diagnostic tests reported per day, but the positive rate has increased to near 13% over the last week. Hospitalizations have increased steadily for the last five weeks, including upticks in critical care and ventilator use.

VIEW TREND: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 hospitalization data trends

Michigan’s 7-day moving average for daily cases was 6,925 on Tuesday, near the highest it has ever been. The 7-day death average was 80, the highest since May. The state’s fatality rate is 2.7%. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 159,000 on Tuesday, its highest mark on record. More than 152,000 have recovered in Michigan.

Coronavirus headlines:

‘3-week pause’ in Michigan

Earlier this month, Michigan officials announced stricter COVID-19 regulations involving restaurants, bars, high schools, colleges, in-person working and more.

As of now, the restrictions are in place for three weeks -- from Wednesday (Nov. 18) through Dec. 8.

What’s closed starting Wednesday, Nov. 18:

  • High schools (in-person learning)
  • Theaters, movie theaters, stadiums, arenas,
  • Colleges and universities (in-person learning)
  • Bowling centers, ice skating rinks, indoor water parks
  • Work, when it can be done from home
  • Bingo halls, casinos, arcades
  • Dine-in restaurants and bars (indoor dining)
  • Group fitness classes
  • Personal services (salon, spa) that involve mask removal*
  • Organized sports, except professional sports and certain NCAA sports (Big Ten football, for example)

*For more information, view the MDHHS’ official Gatherings and Face Mask emergency order, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 18, right here.

What remains open during this three-week period:

  • Indoor gatherings are still allowed but only between two households and with no more than 10 people.
  • Small outdoor gatherings (25 people)
  • Retail
  • Preschool through 8th grade (local district choice)
  • Childcare
  • Manufacturing, construction, other that is impossible to do remotely
  • Public transit
  • Hair salons, barber shops, other personal services (Per the MDHHS order -- Section 4.e.: In facilities offering non-essential personal care services, including hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art, and piercing services, and similar personal care services, gatherings are only permitted to the extent that services do not involve the removal of face masks. All services must be provided by appointment, and gatherings in waiting areas are prohibited.)
  • Gyms and pools (for individual exercise only)
  • Restaurants and bars (for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery only)
  • Professional sports (without spectators)
  • Parks and outdoor recreation
  • Funerals (25 people)
  • Health care