Gov. Whitmer announces unemployement benefit expansion, pay increased to $600 per week

The Michigan Governor has signed another executive order tied to coronavirus. The latest one will further expand the unemployment benefits for workers affected by COVID-19.

On Monday, Gretchen Whitmer signed an agreement between the state and the U.S. Dept. of Labor to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs. The order grants benefits to workers who don't already qualify for unemployment aid, including those who are self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can't work because of the pandemic.

The agreement also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months and extends benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks.

“This increase and expansion of unemployment benefits will provide a measure of security for Michigan working families who lost their income due to the pandemic. We are committed to ensuring emergency financial relief for unemployed residents who continue to stay home and stay safe," said Whitmer.

The governor has signed more than 30 executive orders linked to the coronavirus into law following the state's first confirmed cases on March 10.

Monday's unemployment benefit update is an expansion on a March 16 executive order that targeted workers who may be experiencing unanticipated responsibilities due to coronavirus. 

She's outlawed price gouging on goods, materials, emergency supplies and consumer food items linked to the COVID-19 state of emergency. She suspended all evictions of tenants unable to pay their rent.

She also waived weight restrictions on vehicles supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.

Since the first cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Michigan on March 10, Gov. Whitmer has declared a state emergency, closed all schools, prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people, restricted visits to hospitals and other facilities, closed public spaces such as theaters, bars, gyms and casinos, and limited restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders.  

Most recently, she's also issued a stay-home order. You can get details on what that means here

That was all in efforts to social distance and slow the spread of the virus. You can learn more about social distancing and flattening the curve in the video player above. 

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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. 

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

Are you showing symptoms? Try Beaumont's virtual screening tool

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.


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