Whitmer expands unemployment benefits in Michigan during coronavirus outbreak

Michigan's unemployment rate is stable
Posted at 12:58 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 13:05:51-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Monday signed an executive order temporarily expanding unemployment benefits eligibility.

The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until April 14 at 11:59 p.m.

Under the order, unemployment benefits would be extended to

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill.
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.

“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families,” said Governor Whitmer. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I urge everyone to make smart choices at this time, and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

“We know that many families are and will experience economic pain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.,” said Jeff Donofrio, Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “Our expansion of unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits is designed to help provide emergency support to Michigan’s working families."

The state is also working for people who are self-employed and independent contractors who normally don't have access to umemployment insurance.

The benefits will also be extended and increased from 20 weeks to 26 weeks, the application period doubled to 28 days and normal in-person registration and work search requirement will be suspended.

Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at or by calling 1-866-500-0017. A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can be found here.

Last week, Whitmer asked President Trump to issue a Major Disaster Declaration so that the state could get federal funds.

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Replace handshakes with elbow bumps.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.