Congresswoman Slotkin Holds 4th Tele-Town Hall to Give COVID-19 Response Update
HOLLY, MI - U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin held her fourth tele-town hall meeting to update Michiganders on transitioning to an open state on Wednesday, May 6th.
The meeting went live at 1:00pm with the Congresswoman’s District Director Alexa Stanard monitoring the calls and announcing two special guests in attendance, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, and Stephanie Glidden, the Legislature of Affairs Director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. Congresswoman Slotkin spoke from her home in Holly Michigan and said, “These calls give me an opportunity to update you on the federal level around the coronavirus and how it has impacted our lives here in Michigan. It is clear we are going through a generational moment and COVID-19 is something different that the world has never seen, certainly at this scale. I applaud each of you for all the work I know you’ve done in staying home and staying safe as we have really difficult circumstances in our economy, and doing your part in supporting the community. 80% of the calls that have been coming to our district office are on the issue of unemployment, as well as the state’s plans to reopen the economy.”
“We are not done and are in the process of negotiating our fifth stimulus package. We’ve done four so far, starting back in mid-March and those packages have been over $3 trillion worth of emergency assistance. I call them survival bills because they are intended to help bridge our families, small businesses from one side of the coronavirus pandemic to the other. We have never done what we're doing to our economy out of necessity for public health and will take at least a year in order for us to come out of what is now declared a recession.” Slotkin said.
Rep. Slotkin went over what each of the previous stimulus packages were for, as well as putting $25 billion toward testing and said, “In order for people to go back to work, we’re going to have a strong testing infrastructure. If someone shows up for work and is unwell, they are not expected to work and will need to go get a COVID test to make sure they don’t have the virus. We want to make sure we have rigorous testing that people can take advantage of.”
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist spoke after Congresswoman Slotkin to make sure people understand how the next phase of the coronavirus response will look like at a state level since the first confirmed positive test for coronavirus back in March. Lt. Gov Gilchrist says, “We tried to act quickly and decisively, recognizing and following the advice of our health professionals and did everything we could to limit the spread of the virus across the state of Michigan. We had a few iterations of the stay home, stay safe order and transitioning to what is a safe start to Michigan’s future and our economy.”
Gilchrist also expressed his gratitude to people who limited their trips outside of home and went out when it was essential and added, “It’s not only keeping you safe, but is also decreasing the risk of infecting and exposure of our front line workers who must work to protect us to stay alive. As we move forward, we’re trying to think of ways to set up the infrastructure to safely enable people from leaving their homes and re-engage with the economy. Improving partnership with the federal government and working with FEMA making sure we have a very robust supply chain for testing kit components. It’s really important because we need to understand where the virus is present and how it spreads and looking to scale up our testing capacity.”
“We’re going to need help to balance our budget and make the state whole, and get the resources we need here in the state of Michigan to deal with COVID-19. We’re also working on making sure people in Michigan are supported during this time. Individuals will have access to healthcare, Medicaid programs, and no one would have to pay for testing when it comes to the coronavirus. No one’s services should be cut off, such as electricity, gas, and utilities to make sure people are not falling further behind in the midst of this pandemic response.” Gilchrist said.
Stephanie Glidden addressed the key points of unemployment and says Michigan has been seeing high numbers of claims, “We remain one of the top states of claims filed and reports affected by COVID between March 5th - March 25th. 1.3 million initial unemployment claims have been filed and that’s a quarter of a state’s workforce. The peak week of claim filing during the great recession, we saw 77,000 claims filed in that week, while the peak in COVID is at 380,000 and every other subsequent week after that was built higher. We’ve provided 1 million unemployed Michigan workers with $3.9 billion dollars in benefits and surpassed the 4 billion mark, and have been paid already through the system with 4 billion paid out.”
Glidden states that Michigan is one of the first states to begin the $600 federal payment and allow self-employed 1099 workers to receive those federal PUA payments as well and added, “Those people typically are not eligible for unemployment, but under the CARES act we've created a brand new entirely different program that we are administrating to those types of workers and many other states haven’t begun accepting those applications for people. To make sure everyone has received their benefits, claims are being backdated to reflect that a worker was laid off, regardless of how much time has passed. Everyday we’re reviewing our policies on what we can do and have been working around the clock to ensure every worker in Michigan who applies for unemployment benefits receives them.”