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Potential exposure site: Health dept. asks Kildare customers to monitor for symptoms

MARQUETTE — Kildare Irish American Pub, located at 142 W. Washington St. in downtown Marquette, has been identified as having a potential public exposure for the coronavirus.

The Marquette County Health Department said it became aware of the potential exposure through contact tracing efforts.

The health department recommends that anyone who visited Kildare from to 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday or Thursday monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and contact their medical providers should they become symptomatic.

Testing information can be found at the MCHD website at mqthealth.org.

Order addresses nursing home visitations

People living in residential care facilities such as nursing homes soon may see visitors outdoors under a new epidemic order signed on Thursday by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon that also requires precautions to protect against COVID-19.

The directive permits additional exceptions to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order, which temporarily restricts visits during the pandemic for the health and safety of residents, visitors and staff at health care, residential care, congregate care and juvenile justice facilities, the State Emergency Operations Center said.

The new order is effective Tuesday.

“Limiting visitation has saved lives,” Gordon said in a news release. “And seeing loved ones in person is important for mental health. Allowing outdoor visits — with proper procedures such as requiring social distancing and masks — is good for residents and can keep everyone safe.”

Other factors in the decision to expand visitation include a flattening of the COVID-19 curve and feedback from families and advocates about how the burden of the current restrictions has grown over time.

On June 30, when MDHHS last expanded visitation, the epidemic curve was on the upswing. Viral spread has been stable for several weeks — and last week COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate facilities declined 19% from 83 to 67. To address areas with higher levels of risk, the order allows local health departments to stop visitation if necessary.

However, before offering outdoor visits, facilities must assure that the visitation area allows for at least 6 feet separation between all people and provides adequate protection from weather elements. They must also assure someone trained in infection control will be within sight range to assure compliance with resident protection protocols.

Facilities must meet criteria specified in the order, including having had no new COVID-19 cases originate there within the previous 14 days.

To allow visitation, the facilities must, among other things:

≤ permit visits by appointment only;

≤ limit the number of visitors during each scheduled visit to two people or less;

≤ exclude visitors who cannot or will not wear a face covering during the entire visit;

≤ require visitors to maintain social distancing;

≤ limit the number of overall visitors at the facility at any given time based upon space limitations, infection control capacity and other appropriate factors to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission; and

≤ prohibit visits to residents who are in isolation or under observation for symptoms of COVID-19.

Frontliners program announced

Whitmer, along with leaders in education, business, labor and workforce development, has launched the nation’s first program offering tuition-free college to an estimated 625,000 Michiganders who provided essential, frontline services during COVID-19 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders between April and June.

Futures for Frontliners, inspired by the GI Bill, which provided a college education to those serving their country in World War II, offers Michigan adults without college degrees or high school diplomas who provided essential services during the pandemic a tuition-free pathway to gaining the skills needed to obtain high-demand, high-wage careers.

The funding is not only available to those in the medical field, but also essential workers in manufacturing, nursing homes, grocery stores, sanitation, delivery, retail and more.

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Whitmer said. “Whether it was stocking shelves, delivering supplies, picking up trash, manufacturing PPE (personal protection equpment) or providing medical care, you were there for us. Now this is your chance to pursue the degree or training you’ve been dreaming about to help you and your own family succeed.”

To be eligible for the program, applicants must:

≤ be a Michigan resident;

≤ have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 and June 30;

≤ have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 and June 30;

≤ not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree;

≤ not be in default on a federal student loan;

≤ complete a Futures for Frontliners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31.

Frontline workers are encouraged to visit www.michigan.gov/Frontliners to explore career opportunities, find a list of local community colleges and get started on their application, even if they don’t already have a high school diploma.

The program is a $24 million investment funded by Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund, a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and supports the state’s “60 by 30” goal announced at the governor’s first State of the State address to increase the number of working-age Michiganders completing an industry certificate, college degree or apprenticeship.

Bay College announced it will serve as a Frontliners “champion” to support the Futures for Frontlines program.

“We believe strongly that those who were required to work during the state shutdown this past spring so that the rest of us could stay safe are heroes and deserve our thanks,” said Dr. Laura Coleman, president of Bay College, in a statement. “Many of the men and women we represent were out in the community putting their health and lives on the line.

“Providing frontline workers in essential industries with access to tuition-free community college — even if they don’t have their high school diploma or equivalency yet — to pursue their career and personal dreams is a wonderful way to say ‘thank you, you earned this.'”

To apply, visit www.baycollege.edu/frontliners.

Lost Wages Assistance processing started

The Unemployment Insurance Agency has started processing payments for Lost Wages Assistance for eligible Michiganders. Due to the large volume of payments to be processed, workers will begin receiving LWA payments over the next week to 10 days.

LWA is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide $300 per week to supplement unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. To be eligible for LWA, a claimant’s weekly benefit amount must be at least $100 before deductions.

“Initially, eligible claimants will receive LWA for the benefit weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, 2020,” UIA Director Steve Gray said in a news release. “An estimated 910,000 claimants will receive these much-needed additional benefits.”

Workers do not have to file a separate claim or application for LWA. To qualify, claimants must self-certify whether they are unemployed due to COVID-19. For claimants who have already provided a self-certification on their claim filing application, no further action is needed to qualify. Also, all unemployed workers receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance have already completed this step.

Claimants who need to self-certify will receive notification to answer a question in their MiWAM account starting this week. If a claimant has chosen to receive U.S. mail, notification will be mailed.

FEMA has recently alerted states that LWA funds will be available only for a total of six weeks.

Small business loans awarded

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced on Friday it has awarded an additional $4.7 million in low-interest loans to 71 small businesses in 15 counties across Michigan through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program.

Smarty’s LLC in Negaunee has been awarded $50,000.

Friday’s support builds on $4.35 million in loans awarded to 74 businesses through the program in June. To date, a total of 2,879 small businesses around Michigan have been awarded nearly $20 million in relief grants and loans through the program to assist with COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The Michigan Small Business Relief Program was authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund in March to provide relief for small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Loans through the program are intended to support small businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce and may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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