Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order extending unemployment benefits for Michigan workers impacted by the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
Under the expanded eligibility, unemployment benefits are available to workers who are sick, quarantined or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid time off; workers who have “unanticipated family care responsibility” such as ill family or additional childcare responsibility due to school closures; and first responders who are ill or quarantined because of the coronavirus. The extended eligibility is in effect until April 14.
“We know that many families are and will experience economic pain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.,” said Jeff Donofrio, Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, in a statement. “Our expansion of unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits is designed to help provide emergency support to Michigan’s working families.”
There are currently 53 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, also called COVID-19, in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The rapid spread of the virus has prompted Whitmer to declare a state of emergency, as well as restrict the number of people allowed to gather at one time.
Under the executive order, access to unemployment benefits will be extended, with benefits increasing from 20 weeks to 26 weeks and the suspension of in-person registration and work search requirements. The application period will also be increased from 14 to 28 days.
Whitmer has also asked President Trump to issue a Major Disaster Declaration, which would make Individual Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance available through FEMA. Congress earlier this month passed legislation that makes $1 billion available for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits who have suffered losses because of the coronavirus.
“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I urge everyone to make smart choices at this time, and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photo “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer” by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and photo “Michigan Capital Rotunda” is by MittenStatePhototog CC2.0.