Coronavirus Update: March 25th
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
I wanted to provide you with regular updates on the coronavirus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created this online tool to evaluate yourself for coronavirus and information on how to take the appropriate medical action depending on your symptoms. Please use this tool and be in close contact with your doctor.
The coronavirus pandemic is developing very quickly, and I know many people have questions. I will try to answer some of them below.
Stay home, practice self-distancing (at least six feet from others), and regularly wash your hands.
Stay At Home Order: "Stay at Home, Say Safe” Order: Effective today through April 13, Governor Whitmer’s executive order to all Michigan businesses and operations temporarily suspends in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of the critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in outdoor activity (while maintain social distancing) or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store. The executive order will be effective at midnight from Tuesday, March 24 and be in effect for at least the next three weeks.
Flint Mass Transit Authority: According to the Flint MTA, they are considered an essential service and will continue operations despite the Stay at Home Order.
Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS): STARS announced they will be stopping all fixed bus routes starting today.
Help With Consumers Energy Bill: If you are having trouble paying for your Consumers Energy bill, they have set up a webpage to help understand your options. You can also call 1-800-477-5050.
Map of Coronavirus Cases in Michigan: An up-to-date map of coronavirus cases in Michigan, provided by the Michigan State Police, can be viewed here.
New IRS Filing Season Guidelines: In response to the coronavirus crisis, the IRS has announced it will move the national income tax filing day to July 15, three months after the normal deadline. If you still cannot file a return by that date, you can request an extension by filing out the Form 4868, for an automatic extension until October 15, 2020.
New IRS Information Regarding Coronavirus: The IRS now has a live page on IRS.gov with tips for taxpayers, including information on available assistance due to the impacts of coronavirus.
SBA is providing additional updates on the coronavirus on its website. Visit www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19 or call SBA’s national disaster relief line at 1-800-659-2955 for more information
Click here for a FAQ sheet created by the House Small Business Committee for more information about what the House of Representatives is doing to help small businesses.
Foreclosure Freeze: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be granted a two month reprieve from foreclosures. This includes owners of multifamily properties, who will be allowed to fall behind on their mortgages in exchange for not evicting tenants that cannot make their monthly rent due to the coronavirus.
HUD is also encouraging public housing authorities to not evict tenants that have not paid rent. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has also required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to establish a program for borrowers that have been impacted by the coronavirus to skip mortgage payments for up to a year. These payments would be added to the end of a mortgages. Homeowners with government-backed mortgages should contact their mortgage providers to apply for the foreberance relief.
Federal Student Loans: On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education announced students with federally held student loans will not accrue interest for at least 60 days and do not have to make payments on their loans for at least two months. Borrowers can find more information on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits: The governor has expanded the criteria for those who can file unemployment benefits. This applies to those out of work caring for family members who are sick or because of school closures; workers who are “sick, quarantined or immunocompromised” and don’t have paid family and medical leave; workers who have been laid off; and first responders who became sick or quarantined. Those eligible for these benefits should apply online at www.Michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017. The state is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance. Contract employees or those who are not employed are not covered under unemployment insurance. I am working with the state and federal government to make sure that everyone has access to these benefits.
Unemployment Offices are Closed: Governor Whitmer has announced Michigan’s unemployment insurance agency will stop in-person transaction unless an individual has an appointment to help stem the spread of coronavirus. Those eligible for unemployment benefits should apply online at www.michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017.
K-12 Schools: Governor Whitmer closed all Michigan schools until April 6th. I support her decision to close schools to keep our families safe, but I know that many students depend on schools for nutritious meals. Below is a list of school districts that have announced their plans of how to provide meals. Please click on each school for more information. Here is an interactive map where you can find meals for children during school closures.
- Akron-Fairgrove Schools
- Atherton Community Schools
- Au Gres-Sims School District
- Bangor Township Schools
- Bay City Public Schools
- Beecher Community Schools
- Bendle Schools
- Bentley Community Schools
- Clio Area Schools
- Davison Community Schools
- Essexville-Hampton Public Schools
- Fenton Area Public Schools
- Flint Community Schools
- Flushing Community Schools
- Frankenmuth School District
- Genesee Intermediate School District
- Genesee School District
- Goodrich Area Schools
- Grand Blanc Schools
- International Academy of Flint
- Kearsley Schools
- Lake Fenton Community Schools
- LakeVille Community Schools
- Linden Community Schools
- Millington Community Schools
- Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools
- Oscoda Area Schools
- Reese Public Schools
- Saginaw Public Schools
- Saginaw Township Community Schools
- Standish – Sterling Schools
- Swartz Creek Community Schools
- Tawas Schools
- Vassar Schools
- Westwood Heights Schools
- Whittemore-Prescott Area Schools
Help for Small Businesses: Congressman Kildee supported legislation, H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, that was signed into law earlier this month. The law provides up to $1 billion in loan subsidies for the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) to provide disaster relief loans of up to $2 million to small businesses, agricultural cooperatives and non-profits that have suffered substantial economic injury from the coronavirus.
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the SBA approved Michigan’s application. Small businesses in Michigan are now eligible to apply for disaster loans for up to $2 million, from the SBA. Businesses can apply for loans through the SBA website as well as track the status of their application. Small businesses should contact the Michigan SBA offices in Detroit or Grand Rapids for additional information or to obtain help preparing the loan application. Information on the materials necessary can be found here.
Congress is currently working on a third supplemental that provides direct cash assistance to workers and families so that they can pay their bills. This bill would also increase unemployment insurance benefits and expand access to paid sick and medical leave. Congressman Kildee believes that any bill must put Michigan workers and small businesses first—not corporations.
With Congressman Kildee’s support, Congress has already passed two other emergency aid bills related to the coronavirus:
On March 18, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was signed into law. The legislation, supported by Republicans and Democrats, helps address the increasingly severe economic and health impacts on Americans’ personal safety and financial security, including:
- Free coronavirus testing: the bill ensures all Americans, including the uninsured, have access to coronavirus testing at no cost.
- Paid leave: the bill provides paid emergency leave, with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid leave to care for a child whose school or day care is closed. Both paid sick leave and paid family leave are for individuals that work for a business that has between 50-500 employees. Self-employed individuals are also eligible for these paid leave provisions through a refundable income tax credit.
- Enhanced unemployment insurance: the bill lays the groundwork for state unemployment insurance (UI) offices to handle the new influx of claims and to expand their UI coverage to as many people as possible who could be eligible under state law. In addition to providing UI benefits to more Americans, this funding will alleviate administrative burdens and wait times for state UI offices.
- Strengthened food assistance: the bill strengthens nutrition food initiatives, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), student meals, meals for seniors and food banks.
- Medicaid support: the bill increases funds for Medicaid to support local and state health systems so that people will not lose their coverage.
On March 6th, H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, was signed into law, which provides $8.3 billion in new emergency funding to fully address the coronavirus and protect Americans from this public health crisis, including:
- More than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics;
- $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response, $950 million of which is to support state & local health agencies;
- Nearly $1 billion for procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to support healthcare preparedness and Community Health Centers, and to improve medical surge capacity;
- $61 million to facilitate the development and review of medical countermeasures, devices, therapies, and vaccines, and to help mitigate potential supply chain interruptions.