CORONAVIRUSIn The SpotlightNewsletter Highlights

Please note: We will update this list as quickly as we have vetted information. Please check back frequently for updates.

Governor Whitmer Expands Unemployment Benefits for Michigan Workers

On March 16, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020–10 to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. This executive order is effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59 pm.  This expansion of unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits is designed to help provide emergency support to Michigan’s working families.

 Under the governor’s order, unemployment benefits would be extended to: 

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill. 
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off. 
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19. 

The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance. 

Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended: 

  • Benefits will be increased from 20 to 26 weeks. 
  • The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days 
  • The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.  

Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at  or 1-866-500-0017. A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can be found here.

The order also expands the State’s Work Share program. Employers are encouraged to implement the program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. More information about Work Share can be found here.  

Governor Whitmer is also seeking additional solutions for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Earlier this month, Congress passed legislation that makes $1 billion available to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide low-interest loans to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The governor has informed SBA that she is seeking an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration for the state and has initiated the process to receive the declaration from SBA. In the interim, small businesses should start collecting information needed to complete the application. Examples of information needed can be found here. For additional information or to obtain help preparing the loan application in advance of the declaration, please contact the Michigan SBA offices in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

 The governor has requested that President Trump issue a Major Disaster Declaration so that Individual Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance through FEMA may be made available to additional Michiganders affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) call center stands ready to support businesses looking for assistance through other available state programs. For more information, visit MEDC’s website: or call 888.522.0103.  The Michigan Small Business Development Center can also provide resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Visit their website for additional information. 

Michigan hotline

Governor Whitmer has created the COVID-19 hotline. Public health experts will answer health-related questions about the virus and direct residents and providers to the right resources. The hotline is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (888) 535-6136.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly

The latest information is available at and

The present state of COVID-19 testing

Some doctor’s offices are telling patients with flu-like symptoms to stay out of their office to avoid infecting others. And as one man learned, getting tested for coronavirus can be a fool’s errand. Read more here.

Keep your home clean and disinfected

While the bad news is that the Coronavirus can live on surfaces and packages, the good news is that it is fairly easy to kill with alcohol-based cleaners and diluted hydrogen peroxide.  MIT researchers tell us, “In a February review of what’s already known about this type of virus, German researchers said that within a minute of cleaning a surface, a million viral particles can be reduced to 100, likely reducing the risk of infection.”

  •   We can find thorough information on keeping our homes clean and disinfected from the CDC here.
  •   Check here to find the current list of products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. 

How U.S. coronavirus testing stalled: Flawed tests, red tape, and resistance to using the millions of tests produced by the WHO

“When Olfert Landt heard about the novel coronavirus, he got busy. Founder of a small Berlin-based company, the ponytailed 54-year-old first raced to help German researchers come up with a diagnostic test and then spurred his company to produce and ship more than 1.4 million tests by the end of February for the World Health Organization.

“My wife and I have been working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, ever since,” Landt said by phone about 1 a.m. Friday, Berlin time. “Our days are full.”

By contrast, over the same critical period, U.S. efforts to distribute tests ground nearly to a halt, and the country’s inability to produce them left public health officials with limited means to determine where and how fast the virus was spreading. From mid-January until Feb. 28, fewer than 4,000 tests from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were used out of more 160,000 produced.” Read more here.

More from Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

“EPI UPDATE: The WHO COVID-19 Situation Report for March 16 reported 167,511 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,606 deaths across 152 countries/territories/areas, an increase of 13,903 cases, 862 deaths, and 4 countries from the previous day.” March 17, 2020 COVID 19 Newsletter


 Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and


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