LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer will give an update Friday, March 29 on the state's progress in the fight against COVID-19.
Gov. Whitmer and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun will speak from Lansing at 3 p.m. Friday. You can watch it in the player below or by going to fox2detroit.com/live
As shopping malls and dentist offices reopened this week, much of Michigan is moving into new uncharted waters as it balances public safety with restoring fiscal health to a knee-capped economy that's struggled under executive orders issued by Whitmer. As the state's progress on flattening its COVID-19 cases around the state continues, a patchwork of business reopenings and re-engagement has filled the news hole.
After the governor allowed retail and non-essential medical, dental, and veterinarian procedures to resume this week, salon and barbershop owners are indicating they feel it's their turn to reopen as well. This week, a coalition of cosmetics-related businesses outlined plans for how they would approach keeping clients safe.
Under structured guidelines established with the state's licensing and regulatory agency, salons and barbershops would deploy several similar practices in their boutiques.
While Whitmer has loosened restrictions on restaurants and bars in less-populated parts of the state, it's unclear when they will be allowed to reopen in Southeast Michigan. They could be among the next businesses to receive a timetable for opening their doors. The service industry is referenced among those that would reopen with limited capacity under phase 5 of the Mi Safe Start plan.
On Thursday, Whitmer warned that even with much of the state's businesses threading their needle to reopening, trouble has only just begun for Michigan. The state is facing a $6.2 billion budget shortfall over the remainder of this fiscal year and the next fiscal year. With a fraction of the expected sales and income taxes coming in this quarter, combined with billions in money spent on unemployment benefits and personal protective equipment, Michigan finds itself in strange financial waters.
Whitmer said the state would need block grant money from the federal government. Calling the problem "substantial," the governor is banking on fiscal help coming from the HEROES Act, a $500 billion package meant to help state governments. While Whitmer said help will come in the next few weeks, it's unclear if the fiscal package will clear the U.S. Senate. It's already passed the U.S. House.
The state does have some options to mitigate the damage. A $1.2 billion rainy day fund will ease some of its burden. The state has already announced it plans to cut some jobs, but likely will have to make cuts to programs as well. But where ever officials decide to make cuts, they'll find tough decisions awaiting them.
Whitmer said she is prioritizing funding for school classrooms and literacy. She also said she'd work to protect funding for first responders, local governments, and paid sick time.