Michigan Legislature Approves 23-Day Extension of Whitmer’s Emergency Powers

Michigan legislature voted on Tuesday to approve an extension of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers through the end of April.

The governor originally asked for a 70-day extension of emergency powers, but Michigan legislators said they felt that was too much.

“I agree that there needs to be an extension; we’re far from being out of the woods on this issue. But I believe 70 days looks too far forward considering the information we have now and how quickly that changes,” said Sen. Rick Outman (R-33-Six Lakes) in a statement. “The best thing to do for the immediate future is continue following suggested protocols and stay at home to keep you, your family and your community safe.”

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Walz Launches ‘Bias and Discrimination’ Helpline for Reporting Incidents to the State

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday that his office has created a “discrimination helpline” amid “rising reports of discrimination from the Asian American community.”

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan claimed that America has a “distinct pattern” of “increased discrimination during uncertain and trying times, of needing someone to blame.”

“This is unacceptable and, as Minnesotans, we must work to break this cycle,” she added.

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Whitmer Could Extend Michigan Stay-at-Home Order

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that she expects to extend the stay-at-home order originally expected to end April 14.

Whitmer originally instituted the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order on March 24, saying that the stay-at-home order would stay in effect for the three weeks. Just days before, on March 22, Whitmer had also ordered that “public accommodation” like bars, theaters and gyms to close, as well as restricted restaurants to take-out or delivery only. That order is slated to end on April 13.

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Emergency Order Accelerates Notification to the State of Coronavirus Deaths in Michigan

An emergency order was issued late Saturday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that shortens the length of time coroner and funeral staff have to notify state officials when someone dies of COVID-19 to 24 hours.

“MDHHS is committed to protecting the public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I am issuing this emergency order,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said said in a statement.

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Minnesota Governor Walz’s Ten Minute State of the State Focused Only on Coronavirus

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz touched on nothing but the coronavirus pandemic during his second State of the State address Sunday night.

The address was originally scheduled to take place March 23 before a joint meeting of the House and Senate, but was canceled because of the pandemic. Instead, Walz delivered a televised address from the Governor’s Residence that was just over 10 minutes long.

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Gov. Walz Refuses to Take Down ‘Communist’ Hotline for Reporting Stay at Home Violations

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has rejected requests from Republican lawmakers to suspend a “communist” hotline that allows residents to report violations of the governor’s stay-at-home order.

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Trump Clashes with 3M After Accusations That Foreign Countries Are Getting Face Masks First

President Donald Trump warned 3M on Twitter Thursday night that it will “have a big price to pay” after the company was accused of various wrongdoings surrounding its production of N95 respirator masks.

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Minnesota Secretary of State Says Statewide Vote by Mail Possible for 2020 Election 

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said his office is exploring a number of “pandemic election options,” including conducting the entire presidential election by mail-in ballots.

“The current public health crisis has been a serious test for all Minnesotans. It has also been a test for our democracy. I’ve heard from many Minnesotans who wonder how, or even if, we will vote in this high-stakes election year,” Simon said in a statement released last week.

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Minnesota Health Officials Will Release Info on Nursing Homes with Coronavirus After Facing Criticism

State Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point) said the Minnesota Department of Health’s decision to withhold information about the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on nursing homes “only brings unnecessary grief and frustration to many Minnesota families.”

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Fox News Poll Shows Biden/Klobuchar Ticket Beating Trump

A new Fox News poll predicts that voters would support a Joe Biden/Amy Klobuchar ticket over reelecting President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The poll was conducted between March 21 and 24 and shows Biden beating President Trump by nine percentage points in November. Since Biden promised to pick a female running mate, the poll examined his odds with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as vice president.

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Michigan National Guard Prepares COVID-19 Response at TCF Center

The Michigan National Guard is helping Detroit prepare additional space to care for COVID-19 patients.

About 20 members of the Michigan National Guard will help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) form a Federal Medical Station (FMS) at TCF Center in Detroit from Tuesday through today.

Those members will manage inventory to prepare for the care of those with COVID-19.

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Trump Campaign Digitized Entire Operation in 24 Hours, Contacted 100,000 Minnesota Voters Virtually

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign digitized its entire field operation within 24 hours after staffers were forced to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, sources told The Minnesota Sun.

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Michigan Lawmaker Asks Governor to Allow Some Businesses to Reopen If They Adhere to Social Distancing Guidelines

State Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona) asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow some nonessential businesses to reopen if they follow social distancing guidelines.

Cole sent a letter to Whitmer on Monday, claiming her stay-at-home order hurt small businesses, including those in the construction and landscaping industry. Both of those industries, said Cole, allowed workers to work safely while staying apart from each other.

“I certainly understand where our governor is coming from. Public safety must always be the main priority,” Cole said in a statement. “However, keeping people employed and businesses operating must also be a priority.”

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CARES Act Extends Michigan’s Unemployment Benefits to Self-Employed, Independent Contractors, and More

The state and the U.S. Department of Labor agreed to expand unemployment benefits to Michigan workers who previously didn’t qualify.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the agreement Monday. The benefits extension will be funded by the $2 trillion federal CARES Act President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday.

The extension includes self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can no longer work because of temporary business closures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Minnesota Group Wants Unemployment Insurance for Illegal Immigrants

A progressive group in Minnesota wants state and national lawmakers to pass a “stronger unemployment insurance package” that includes benefits for illegal immigrants.

TakeAction Minnesota, a progressive community organizing group, released a list of policy proposals that it would like to see included in any stimulus package passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Michigan Has Third-Highest Rate of Infection in Country at 35.3 Percent

Michigan is keeping pace with some of the most-infected states in the country, with more than 35 percent of tests coming back with confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

As of Monday evening, Michigan has 6,498 confirmed positive cases out of 18,391 total tested — an infection rate of 35.3 percent. By comparison, New Jersey has an infection rate of 39.7 percent with 16,636 confirmed cases and New York has an infection rate of 35.7 percent with 66,497 confirmed cases. New York and New Jersey are the top two most-infected states in the country, followed by Michigan. California is currently the fourth most-infected state with 6,447 confirmed cases and an infection rate of 21.5 percent.

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Two Michigan Counties, Detroit Have More Than 70 Percent of All Michigan Cases

Two Michigan counties and the City of Detroit carry more than 70 percent of all cases in Michigan, with more than 4,500 cases between them.

Oakland and Wayne counties, combined with the City of Detroit, have 4,560 confirmed cases out of the 6,498 in Michigan, according to data from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Detroit, which the DHHS said is tracked separately from its home of Wayne County, has 1,801 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday night. This makes up 27.7 percent of all Michigan confirmed cases and makes it the area in Michigan which has the most confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It also has 54 of the 184 deaths from the virus in the state, or 28.3 percent — the highest in Michigan.

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Gov. Whitmer Suspends Michigan Water Shut-Offs

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order to reconnect residents’ water services that had been shut off.

The governor signed the $2 million Water Restart Grant Program on Saturday. The suspension of the public utility shut-offs were mandated effective immediately.

“This is a critical step both for the health of families living without a reliable water source, and for slowing the spread of the Coronavirus,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We continue to work to provide all Michiganders – regardless of their geography or income level – the tools they need to keep themselves and their communities protected.”

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison Wages War on Price Gouging During Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘My Office and I Are Coming After You’

Attorney General Keith Ellison said his office received more than 500 complaints about price gouging in Minnesota last week alone.

The influx of complaints is part of Ellison’s effort to stop companies from hiking their prices on essential products during the coronavirus pandemic. Doing so is now illegal under an executive order issued by Gov. Tim Walz, which will remain in effect for the duration of Minnesota’s peacetime emergency.

Ellison’s office announced a statewide crackdown on businesses engaged in “pandemic profiteering” last week and encouraged Minnesotans to report instances of price gouging to his office.

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Republican Lawmakers Blast Minnesota’s Coronavirus Omnibus Bill: ‘Zero Transparency’

The Minnesota Legislature passed a $330 million omnibus bill this week to address the coronavirus pandemic, but some Republican lawmakers were frustrated with the unprecedented lack of transparency in the process.

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Omar and Bernie Ask Bezos for Answers About Amazon’s Efforts to Slow COVID-19 Spread

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) sent a letter Friday to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking for “detailed information” about his plans to protect warehouse workers from the coronavirus.

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Shelter in Place Order Now in Effect in Minnesota: Here’s What You Need to Know

Gov. Tim Walz has issued a statewide shelter-in-place order for Minnesota to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The order took effect Friday at midnight and will remain in effect until 5:00 p.m. on April 10. As opposed to a complete lockdown, a shelter-in-place order still allows for many everyday activities and permits numerous industries to continuing working.

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Trump Admin Plans to Identify COVID-19 Hotspots So Low-Risk Areas Can Reopen

President Donald Trump said Thursday that his administration is working on a county-level approach to the coronavirus that will enable the government to identify hotspots across the nation.

Doing so will allow social distancing measures to be relaxed or tightened based on the number of confirmed cases in each county, Trump said in a letter sent Thursday to the nation’s governors.

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Commentary: Coronavirus Exposes Just How Antiquated and Unworkable the Michigan Education System Really Is

The coronavirus has thrown our entire society in disarray, and no less poignant an example exists than our K-12 public schools. The closure of schools across the country has stopped the normal learning process dead in its tracks.  In a valiant attempt to continue, many districts have sought to leverage long distance learning. Unfortunately, weaknesses in the law, technological infrastructure, and teacher preparation, as well as inequities among students, are barriers to success. For example, the Michigan Department of Education has announced that under the law, virtual learning will not count for funding purposes as “seat time.”

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Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer Asks Trump for Major Disaster Declaration

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has submitted a request to President Trump to ask him for a major disaster declaration, which would allow the state to aid its residents in a variety of ways.

If granted in full, the declaration would allow the state to provide meals for families in need, rental assistance and temporary housing, as well as funding for field hospitals and mental health support.

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Star Tribune Was Refusing to Run Ad Warning of Economic Consequences of Walz’s Coronavirus Response

The Star Tribune initially refused to run an advertisement in its print edition that was critical of Gov. Tim Walz’s “severe reactions” to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Minnesota Had 116,000 New Unemployment Claims Last Week

Minnesota has seen 182,000 workers apply for unemployment insurance since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove said Thursday.

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Michigan Unemployment Claims Reach Record High

The economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic includes massive unemployment caused by government-mandated shutdowns of businesses throughout Michigan.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported 129,298 Michigan employees filed unemployment claims last week. Government figures indicate that number has increased from nearly 5,338 people filing unemployment claims reported March 14, a difference of more than 123,960.

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MyPillow Now Manufacturing Face Masks to Help With COVID-19 Response

MyPillow announced Tuesday that it is now manufacturing face masks for hospitals across the country to help alleviate the national shortage of N95 respirator masks.

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Whitmer Extends Canvassing Deadline for Michigan Primary

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the deadline to tally the votes from the Michigan primary by executive order on Wednesday due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

The canvassing deadline for the March 10 primary was originally March 24, according to a guideline from the state of Michigan. Whitmer’s order has pushed it back to April 24.

“I am grateful to Governor Whitmer for ensuring our democracy will remain robust during this public health crisis,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a statement. “Providing more time to canvass the recent election will provide certainty for Michiganders that our elections are accurate and worth everyone participating in.”

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Gov. Walz Issues Shelter in Place Order for Minnesota

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced during his Wednesday press briefing that he is issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The stay-at-home order, as the governor is calling it, will go into effect at midnight Friday and will remain in effect until 5:00 p.m. on April 10.

“What our objective is now is to move the infection rate or slow it down and buy time,” Walz said during the press conference. The governor noted that the order won’t necessarily reduce the infection rate, but will postpone the peak of the outbreak while the state prepares.

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Doctor in Minnesota Senate Warns That Reaction to Coronavirus Could Be More Dangerous Than Virus Itself

A doctor in the Minnesota Senate warned leaders Monday that the reaction to the coronavirus pandemic could be more harmful than the virus itself.

Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska), a professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School and founder of Catalyst Medical Clinic, said that the disruption to everyday routines could have devastating consequences for people with underlying medical conditions.

“Scaring people to death isn’t helping us. We are going to in short order, if not already now, have supply chains get interrupted and some of these are critical supply chains. We need to be careful,” Jensen said in a video posted to Facebook.

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