MAC COVID-19 Update
Governor's new order opens retail activities in northern regions

Retail businesses can swing back into operation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and part of the northern Lower Peninsula under terms in Executive Order 92, issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Monday.

The governor’s action comes as daily case and death totals continue to show declines in those areas.

The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships may choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.
 
“All businesses that will re-open in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91. That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.

“Region 6 in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan includes the following counties: Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Roscommon and Emmet.

“Region 8 … includes the following counties: Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa.”
Budget picture grim, MAC tells northern commissioners’ group

MAC’s Meghann Keit briefed attendees at today’s meeting of the Northern Michigan Counties Association (NMCA) on the perilous situation with the state’s budget and potential bonus payments for first responders.

Meeting virtually, attendees also heard a presentation on water levels in Michigan’s lakes, both Great and inland, and the work of the National Weather Service.

Additionally, the group heard from staff of Congressman Jack Bergman’s office about the $3 trillion HEROES Act that passed the U.S. House late last week. Bergman’s staff noted the measure includes $187.5 billion in relief to counties but also has a host of other items not related to COVID-19, which is why Bergman (R-MI 1) opposed the bill. The measure is likely to undergo significant changes as it is debated in the U.S. Senate.

Finally, State Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason) and Rep. Sue Allor (R-Cheboygan) joined the group to discuss county and state hurdles as we all deal with coronavirus response.
Lost revenue figures mounting, local officials told in webinar

With the state already facing a $3 billion budget hole for fiscal 2020, the state Department of Transportation (MDOT) says revenues for the State Trunkline Fund will be about $92 million below expectations, attendees of a webinar co-hosted by the Michigan Department of Treasury, MAC and others were told on Monday.

The trunkline losses are in FY20 and will affect county road departments and commissions. A decrease of $85 million is expected in that fund for FY21. County members are encouraged to work with MDOT on rescheduling projects if necessary. MDOT has created worksheets to assist counties in their planning .

The webinar, which also included a report on best budgetary practices, will be available online soon. The slides from the presentation can be viewed here .

The next webinar is tentatively scheduled for June 8 at 2 p.m. Registration information is not yet available, but each webinar is limited to 1,000 attendees. With previous webinars reaching capacity limits, participants are strongly encouraged to register early.

T he state Treasury Department has developed a website with numbered letters, communications and resources regarding COVID-19 information for local governments and school districts.

This website was created to ensure that Michigan communities have access to the most up-to-date guidance and will be updated frequently with information and resources as they become available.
Need PPE? These Michigan businesses can help

Below are some resources for procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) for your county, or you can refer local businesses to them as well:

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 recent webinar from the National Association of Counties. (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 bosworth@micounties.org.