Whitmer Plans to Further Ease Michigan Coronavirus Restrictions
Governor Whitmer’s administration announced this week that they will soon announce the further loosening of our Covid-19 restrictions. The Governor has been urging the Republican controlled Legislature to move forward on passing a multibillion-dollar funding plan for Covid relief.
Currently the state health department orders require restaurants to comply with restricting capacity to 25% and a 10pm curfew. Residential gatherings must not allow more than 10 people from two households, and there are also limits on gyms and entertainment venues, these orders continue through March 29.
AP reports “We’re expecting to make more announcements on additional re engagements in the coming days. Our case numbers and public health metrics are trending in the right direction. I’m very pleased to see that,” the Democratic governor said. Shortly after Whitmer’s update, a GOP-led Senate panel approved $2.5 billion-plus in federal and state coronavirus-related funding, less than half of what would be provided under her $5.6 billion proposal, with remaining federal aid approved by Congress and former President Donald Trump held in reserve.
Also on the agenda is the Senate proposing a $2 hourly wage hike for direct care workers, a current benefit set to expire on Sunday. If approved, that would raise it to $2.25 and extend it until September 30. Democrats objected to Republican provision added to a vaccine funding bill with the goal of forcing Michigan to do the vaccine distribution based on the number of eligible persons.
Our state health department is currently weighting population based allocations using a social vulnerability index, considering factors like poverty, lack of transportation and crowded housing, which according to the director, correlates closely with hard hit communities last spring. Republican Sen. Tom Barrett said it would ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine and take away the state’s social justice platform. This amendment will prohibit socioeconomic status factors such as race, gender, color, national origin, religion, or sex. Sen. Sylvia Santana, a Democrat from Detroit says “We already have a lack of vaccines in this state and it’s not about one community getting the vaccine over another.”.
Next Thursday the senate plans a vote on some or all of the bills. An almost 3.6 billion dollar plan passed the House weeks ago. So far, the Senators have not chosen to work with House Republicans' bid, tying school funding to a bill shifting the power to close schools or sporting events to local health departments, as opposed to the state health department.
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