TUESDAY, June 2 — Michiganders will finally be able to return their empty cans and bottles later this month after the state treasury demanded retailers reopen returns beginning June 15.
Retailers with bottle return facilities located at the front of the store (or housed in a separate area with reverse vending machines) must begin accepting empty cans and bottles for deposits beginning June 15 — with a few key safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Those precautions include:
Bottle returns have been suspended since March 23. During the initial reboot, retailers must limit the volume of weekly returned containers to no more than 140% of their average weekly collection volumes from April and May 2019. And at least for now, retailers that do not have segregated bottle return areas and automated machines do not have to accept empties.
Questions about bottle returns can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services announced today all auto insurers in Michigan have been ordered to issue refunds or premium waivers to consumers as a result of insurance companies’ reduced risk during the pandemic.
“Michiganders have been staying safe and staying home and they should see the benefit in reduced auto insurance rates during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement.
The DIFS order sets a deadline of June 10 for insurers to submit filings that include the refund or premium waiver amount, information on how that amount was determined, and how consumers will receive payments. It also requires communication plans to inform customers.
DIFS can assist consumers with questions or disputes that cannot be directly resolved with their insurer. Contact DIFS Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 833-ASK-DIFS (275-3437) or by emailing email@example.com.
Whitmer also signed another executive order today that provides additional requirements and procedures to keep agricultural workers and the food supply safe from the effects of COVID-19.
Under the order, which takes effect immediately and expires June 29, owners and operators of employer-provided migrant housing must ensure their residents are provided with some of the same personal safeguards as other businesses — including creating a COVID-19 response plan, providing personal protective equipment and following social distancing precautions.
Beds must be at least six feet apart wherever possible. Isolation space must also be provided for those who tested positive or are suspected to be ill with COVID-19. Rooms must be well ventilated and employers are also required to work with local health officials on their response.
“COVID-19 can spread easily in settings where many people live in close proximity, such as the migrant housing where thousands of migrant agricultural workers live in Michigan each year,” Whitmer said. “Migrant agricultural workers are an essential workforce in Michigan and securing their health and well-being will help ensure Michigan’s food supply chain is not disrupted.”
The East Lansing Downtown Development Authority has approved a second round of 43 separate $2,500 Business Relief Program grants for brick-and-mortar DDA businesses that are suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. Online applications close at midnight on Friday.
Those wishing to apply must be physically located within DDA boundaries, must be directly affected by the coronavirus crisis and related executive orders and must not be delinquent on any accounts, fees or assessments owed to the city prior to its state of emergency declaration.
Businesses that received a grant in the first round of funding are not eligible for another round.
Michigan is working to ensure that anyone who needs a COVID-19 test can get one.
Whitmer and the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services alerted residents today that diagnostic COVID-19 testing for those who meet testing criteria should be covered by most health insurance plans without any out-of-pocket cost. Most insurance plans do cover the costs.
Some insurance companies may be required, for tax reasons, to reimburse consumers for out-of-pocket costs, rather than paying those costs directly to health care providers. Those who receive a bill for COVID-19 testing should contact their insurance company for assistance.
Those unable to resolve their issues can contact DIFS for assistance Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 877-999-6442, or file a complaint at Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints. To find a testing site, visit Michigan.gov/coronavirustest or call 888-535-6136 for more details.
In testimony delivered remotely before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations earlier this afternoon, Whitmer called on the federal government to help states like Michigan ensure and promote widespread testing for COVID-19.
She also highlighted the “aggressive action” that Michigan has taken in the fight against the virus, including the state’s efforts to secure personal protective equipment for frontline workers, expand testing capacity and eligibility and address health disparities within communities of color.
“We need the White House to create a specific, long-term plan outlining how the federal government will ensure we have adequate testing supplies so we can gather the data we need to make informed decisions about re-engaging our economies,” Whitmer explained today.
Whitmer also echoed calls on the federal government to help address the significant revenue shortfalls that states are facing after dedicating already slim resources toward the pandemic.
In the numbers…
Six more coronavirus cases were recorded across Greater Lansing today, pushing up the regional case count to at least 1,075 with at least 44 deaths tracked locally since early March.
Ingham County tracked five new cases. Clinton County recorded one more. Eaton County actually saw a decrease from 190 to 189 cases — likely an error in statewide case reporting. No additional virus-related deaths were tracked overnight across the local tri-county region.
Michigan tracked at least another 199 coronavirus cases statewide this afternoon with another 37 virus-related deaths, pushing the case count past 57,700 with more than 5,500 reported dead. About two-thirds of cases, or 38,099 patients, have tracked a full recovery from the virus.
Cases — 745 (+5)
Recovered Cases — 423
Recovery Rate — 56.8%
Deaths — 27 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 3.6%
As of Sunday, zip code 48911 tracks 221-230 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 81-90 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 71-80 cases. Zip code 48854 and 48906 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip code 48864 tracks 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842 and 48912 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip codes 48917, 48840, and 48895 each track 11-20 cases. Zip codes 48285, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 10 cases or fewer.
Cases — 189 (-1)
Recovered Cases — 164
Recovery Rate — 86.8%
Deaths — 6 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 3.2%
Cases — 141 (+1)
Deaths — 11 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 7.8%
The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.
Cases — 57,731 (+199)
Recoveries — 38,099 (as of 5/29/20)
Recovery Rate — 66%
Deaths — 5,553 (+37)
Fatality Rate — 9.6%
Cases — 1,827,206
Deaths — 106,028
Fatality Rate — 5.8%
Michigan still reports the eighth most cases of any state, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas and fifth in the country in virus-related deaths, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.