By Mike Kruzman /

Unemployment benefits, nursing homes, and schools were topics at the forefront of State Representative Hank Vaupel’s latest online office hours event.

The Fowlerville Republican held his latest online Zoom session Friday afternoon. Joining Vaupel on the call were State Representative and chair of the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mike Hall, and Howell Public Schools Superintendent Erin MacGregor.

Hall spent part of his time updating residents on the state’s unemployment efforts, saying the latest issue is people getting letters in the mail about wage garnishments, or stating that they owe money. He said people are calling Vaupel and myself wondering why they are receiving it, and the answer is because someone committed fraud. The criminal, for example, could have made a claim in one’s name and set the response email to something different so that the victim wouldn’t know this happened before they receive the threatening letter. Anyone receiving this letter that shouldn’t have should go on the UIA’s website and file a fraud claim to protect themselves. Hall encourages people that suspect they are the victims of fraud to go onto the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s website and file a fraud claim. Vaupel credited his office staff, giving Annie Nguyen and Cindy Denby all the credit for personally helping 800 47th District constituents in getting their due benefits.

Hall also gave an update on the state’s nursing home task force, which Vaupel is a part of. Though the Whitmer Adminsitration has implemented a couple of the task force’s recommendations, like allowing outside visits and ancillary services into homes, Hall said he is disappointed in Robert Gordon, director of the State Health Department, for not implementing more. These recommendations include better state coordination of PPE, dedicated testing labs for nursing homes, and allowing nursing home residents to meet in small groups.

Howell Superintendent Erin MacGregor also joined the call, updating the district’s efforts. They’ve had 3 cases in the district, but MacGregor said they had everything in place to handle them. He thanked the Livingston County Health Department for their help with contact tracing, and said they have no evidence of in-school transmission occurring. He said the transmission that is happening in the community is happening at social events like parties outside the school.
MacGregor said that means the things the doing to mitigate risks in the school are working, but still cautioned that it doesn’t mean they won’t have more cases.

Vaupel gave “kudos” to MacGregor and the Howell staff for being back in school for 5 weeks with as few glitches as they’ve suffered so far.