Senate Republicans announce relief plan to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines, boost testing and support Michiganders harmed by Whitmer shutdowns

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Republicans announced on Thursday a supplemental relief package that will help Michigan health care workers combating COVID-19, increase testing capacity and vaccine distribution and assist the thousands of workers and businesses facing financial ruin due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdowns.

The relief bill is the latest step in the Senate GOP plan to tackle the pandemic and its impact on Michiganders. Republicans directed billions of dollars to front line workers, first responders, small businesses, and more, earlier in the year. This latest supplemental will follow bills that are already advancing in the Legislature to extend unemployment benefits into Spring 2021 and to help hospitals hire more nurses at this critical time.

“Gov. Whitmer continues to go it alone on COVID-19, closing down businesses and laying off workers in the middle of the holiday season,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “But Senate Republicans are stepping up to help the thousands of Michiganders struggling financially and to ramp up testing and vaccine distribution to a point where we can safely reopen our state once and for all.”

The Senate Republican proposal would use available state funds and federal dollars to:
• Expand virus testing and vaccine distribution;
• Help hospitals and nursing homes address their shortage of nurses, including an extension of the pay increase for direct care workers;
• Deliver assistance to workers laid-off or furloughed due to Gov. Whitmer’s shutdown orders; and
• Help small businesses shuttered by the governor’s orders avoid permanent closure.

The supplemental bill would add to the more than $3.5 billion in Republican-supported relief already signed into law to tackle the virus and the economic impact of business closures and job losses.

“With this bill, we’ve prioritized the immediate needs of Michiganders, but there is still much work to be done,” said Stamas. “Our fight against this insidious virus will continue in 2021, and we hope our governor joins us in that fight instead of going it alone.”