Legislature Approves $125 Million In COVID-19 Funding
March 18, 2020
By Jon Kingfirstname.lastname@example.org
Following nearly twelve hours of negotiations, the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Whitmer reached a deal that will to spend $125 million from the state's general fund for coronavirus response efforts.
$50 million will go to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services which will be distributed to critical health care providers to expand the treatment capacity for coronavirus patients. Another $50 million will go to the coronavirus response fund for testing, monitoring cases and tracking the contacts that people who tested positive had, as well as health department staffing. An additional $25 million will be added to another $25 million approved last week, which will be allocated by the Legislature later. The Senate unanimously approved the funding on a 37-0 vote and quickly sent the bills to the House of Representatives, which approved the funding on a 92-0 vote.
Republican State Rep. Ann Bollin of Brighton Township said their first responsibility was to address the pressing public health concerns to help level the spread of the virus, "...and then to mitigate the impact on our local businesses and economy."
K-12 superintendents, school boards, unions and Democrats expressed frustration that the GOP-led Legislature did not move to ensure school employees are paid during a statewide three-week shutdown, which may be extended.
“They deserve nothing less, given the immense efforts overtaken ... to continue engaging students in learning where possible and to ensure meals and other critical supports continue to flow to our students with the greatest need,” the education groups said in a joint statement.
Republicans said they needed more time to assess the situation, including potential additional funding if the school closures last longer than anticipated.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a sweeping order Monday banning dine-in customers at restaurants and closing all bars, movie theaters, gyms and other sports facilities to reduce the spread of the virus. For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
“The best practices are if you think you’re sick, then stay home,” said Whitmer, who issued an order relaxing regulations so hospitals can add beds, mobile facilities and use non-nurses to help feed and transport patients. “If you’re a medically vulnerable person who thinks you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you do need to get in touch with your health care provider and make a plan to get tested.”