MAC COVID-19 Update
Michigan aiming for big testing boost, governor tells local officials

Michigan is working toward testing 1 percent to 2 percent of its total population each week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told a virtual audience of local government leaders on Monday evening.

Such testing would, at the high end, represent about 200,000 tests conducted per week. At present, Michigan is testing at a rate of about 60,000 per week.

Whitmer did note that supply chain issues on testing materials still exist, but that she expected the state to reach its testing goals in “next week or two.”

In her remarks and in response to questions posed by attendees, Whitmer also:

  • Urged local governments to use every opportunity for FEMA reimbursement for COVID-related expenses
  • Said that the state was still seeking a federal waiver so FEMA would cover 100 percent of approved costs, not the current 75-25 ratio
  • Said the state was still lobbying for federal clearance to use funds under the CARES Act to compensate for lost revenues

The state now projects a fiscal 2020 budget gap of up to $3 billion due to the crisis and its resulting economic disruptions. That projection will be formalized next week, on May 15, when the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference meets.

Following Whitmer, Jeff Donofrio, head of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), reviewed the status of Michigan’s unemployment insurance system and touted the state’s Work Share program, in which employers can reduce an employee’s hours, while providing partial reimbursement to the employee through the state system.

MAC recommends members take a close look at the Work Share option as they make difficult decisions on layoffs, furloughs and staff reductions in coming weeks and months.
Webinar reviews model plan for county preparedness

Counties need to have preparedness/response plans to comply with a state Executive Order, experts with the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) said during a MAC-sponsored webinar on Wednesday .

The webinar allowed MMRMA to review and take questions on its model response plan for the COVID-19 crisis.

Among key points made by MMRMA’s Cindy King and Stephen Tobler were:

  • Counties should plan for employees to wear masks in their buildings unless the employee is in her office or cubicle.
  • Counties need to think expansively about what areas and surfaces would require regular cleaning, even down to such items as a shared stapler in a copier room, King said.
  • Any questions about returning non-essential staffers to workplaces while the Stay at Home order is still in place should be raised with a county’s legal counsel.

MAC thanks MMRMA for participating in the webinar and for making its model plan available to non-members as counties grapple with the public health, personnel and service-delivery issues created by the COVID-19 crisis.
Experts: Document, document, document on FEMA costs

A team of experts from Witt-O’Brien’s repeatedly emphasized that documentation was critical to successful applications for FEMA reimbursements. The advice was given during a webinar from the National Association of Counties on Monday. (To see the complete webinar and slide deck, click here .)

Among key points for Michigan county leaders as they prepare their applications:

  • Accounting for hours attributable to COVID is essential
  • Check HR policies and make sure they are clear on overtime and who the policies touch
  • It’s an ongoing situation, so may have to bring in new people to cover new areas and make sure the policy covers everyone (FEMA prefers a policy in place prior to event, but if not, still write it and formalize it ASAP)
  • Emergency and public transportation costs to consider include deep cleaning of vehicles or more vehicles for patrol due to separating officers
  • Costs associated with outreach/messaging to inform public that services are provided at temporary locations are FEMA-eligible

Other tips shared included:

  • “Show clear connective tissue” between your expenses and COVID-19 response, especially in Category B
  • Training for new staff or retrained staff, in Emergency Operation Centers, for example, are eligible costs
  • A good baseline in calculating amounts is the percentage share of your population to the statewide total
  • Think outside the box on such FEMA-eligible items as emergency transit vs. public transit.

FEMA policies will be a moving target because infectious disease response was not comprehensive, the presenters said. Counties are urged to be thorough with documentation and check policy guidance.

Webinars are now slated throughout May to help county officials navigate the reimbursement process. Click here for the schedule. PLEASE NOTE that local officials are REQUIRED to attend at least one of these sessions.

To obtain maximum benefit from the information presented at the briefing, counties should have representatives from its management, emergency response, public works, and accounting/finance/procurement operations and designate a primary point of contact to interact with the recipient and FEMA. Additional information on the Public Assistance Grant Program can be found in the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG) .

For more information, contact Deena Bosworth at
Treasury webinar details income shocks, budget timelines

Federal funds have somewhat mitigated the disruption to family incomes in Michigan due to COVID-19, but Michigan faces a two-year road back to the employment levels seen just a few weeks ago, local officials were told during a webinar Monday sponsored by the Michigan Department of Treasury, MAC, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association.

While there has been a 25 percent decline in payroll employment in 2Q of 2020, personal income has not dropped at a commensurate rate, due to the $600 per week addition to unemployment benefits and the $1,200 federal stimulus checks. Forecasters anticipate a faster recovery than has been seen in previous economic downturns, but it will likely be 2022 before Michigan returns to its employment peak pre-COVID.

Meanwhile, the State Budget Office is awaiting the May 15 Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference before embarking on how to balance the current FY20 budget, with an anticipated $2.6 billion to $3 billion shortfall. The Governor’s Office continues to push for retroactive flexibility to use the $3.1 billion in federal CARES Act money available to Michigan for revenue recovery so they can minimize cuts to the state budget.

Revenue sharing checks did go out to locals as scheduled for April 30, but future payments for FY 20 may be in jeopardy depending on how the Governor and Legislature decide to address the budget. Work on the FY 2021 budget will continue, but likely won’t be finished before late summer due to the need for a third revenue conference in August after the delayed income tax payments come in for the state this summer.

The Michigan State Police reminded participants of the mandatory FEMA webinars that started this week.  All potential applicants for FEMA reimbursement are required to attend one of the 17 virtual briefings and are encouraged to review the fact sheets posted on their website .Please note that not all of the expenses incurred in implementing the governor’s executive orders are eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

The next joint webinar will be May 18 at 2 p.m. Registration information will be released soon. For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at
Federal officials to host webinar on Rural Health and COVID-19

On May 12 at 4 p.m. eastern, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will sponsor a free webinar on COVID-19 and its effects on rural health.

“Delivering health care in rural communities presents unique challenges that have always required coordination and innovation. Now, more than ever, it is essential that rural communities and healthcare providers have access to the resources they need to combat COVID-19,” USDA said.
This webinar will provide an overview of the rural health focused efforts by HHS and USDA and highlight specific tools to help combat COVID-19.

This webinar is free. High-speed internet is required to participate. A recording will be available on our website after the live event. Connection details will be emailed to you immediately upon registration.

To register for the webinar, click here .
NACo seeks applicants for August leadership class

The NACo High Performance Leadership Academy is an innovative, online 12-week program created to equip frontline county government professionals with practical leadership skills to deliver results for counties and communities. (Click here to l earn about NACo's Enterprise Cybersecurity Leadership Academy.)

NACo is enrolling for its August 2020 cohort. 
With a robust curriculum developed by the Professional Development Academy in partnership with Fortune 1000 executives, public sector leaders, world-renowned academics and thought leaders, including General Colin Powell and Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, HPLA was designed specifically for the unique challenges and opportunities of serving in county government.

Anyone in county government can participant, but HPLA is designed for entry- to mid-level county professionals, particularly those who manage teams or are preparing to in the future.

The enrollment fee is $1,995 per participant. However, the first enrollee from each NACo member county will receive a one-time NACo scholarship of $1,000 and a $500 discount.

For more information, contact Alana Hurley at