04-16-2020 State COVID-19 action draws blowback; LaSata tells Governor banned mosquito treatments le

THANKS FOR LUNCH… Medical personal at Spectrum Lakeland Hospital in Watervliet wave a big thank you to Mike and Laura Mullins of Mike’s Pitstop in Coloma for the delivery of lunch Friday, April 10. Pictured are Tara Mundt, Brianna Schultz, Kelsey Beeching and Nathan Prine.

State COVID-19 action draws blowback; LaSata tells Governor banned mosquito treatments leave folks threatened by EEE

By Jon Bisnett The COVID-19 outbreak continues to top the news with some of the latest developments in the State of Michigan as devastating to business, as the disease itself. Washington Direct deposit stimulus payments from the Coronavirus Relief Bill are beginning to land in the accounts of those taxpayers who filed returns in 2018 or 2019. The one-time direct payments of $1,200 per adult plus $500 payments per child under 17 will be made via direct deposit to the bank account used for 2018 tax filing within three weeks per the Office of Treasury. Otherwise checks will be mailed. Individuals on Social Security who have not been required to file a return can fill out an online form to ensure their payment. Additionally, some of the unemployed have begun to receive the additional $600 per week Federal help. President Trump is looking at the possibility of reopening some segments of business and stay at home directives as early as May 1. Skirmishes are surfacing in regard to who is truly empowered to make such decisions. Governors say it is their choice, not Washington, while Trump differs. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is drawing a great deal of fire from both members of the state legislature and thousands of Michigan small business owners following her most recent stay at home order, while she has specifically called out landscapers as “low-wage non-essentials” much to the ire of many local business people. Whitmer had sought 70 additional days of lockdown and was granted just 30 by the legislature. By the time this edition of the Record is printed, a scheduled protest for Wednesday, April 15 will have taken place with the intention to blockade the State Capital in Lansing with landscapers, garden center and construction workers, and other small businesses and their supporters, all sidelined by the Governor’s recent action. Bainbridge resident Senator Kim LaSata is now asking the Governor to relax restrictions on landscapers. In a letter warning that following state guidelines to prevent mosquitoes further threatens the safety of Michigan residents since Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), which is spread by mosquitoes, is an issue for many people who rely on landscaping companies to spray for mosquitoes. “Last year, half of the individuals who died from EEE were from my district,” LaSata said. “Now our concern is that at this time landscapers need to be out there spraying to prevent EEE from occurring again.” The same mild winter, that robbed landscapers of their usual off-season snowplowing income, can actually worsen the EEE infestation and could make this year even worse. The double whammy! Social media has been on fire this week challenging Whitmer’s perceived over reach that affects sale of paint, seeds, plants and much, much, more. Online recall petitions abound as unemployment in the state soars, only to find a broken, overloaded UIA website that suffered a major crash on Monday when it was first opened to the self-employed and others who had not previously qualified for benefits. Whitmer was quoted as follows regarding reopening the state; saying four areas of concern will guide her action. “We must see a sustained reduction in infection rate; enhanced ability to test and trace COVID-19; sufficient healthcare capacity to handle resurgence; and best practices in the workplace. We can’t afford a second wave, and so it’s going to be incredibly important that we do this right.” Schools Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet Public Schools will continue to provide meals to students through June 9 along with new Bridge Card benefits just recently announced. Families that already qualify for free or reduced lunch will receive $193.80 total for March and April for each eligible K-12 student, and another $182.40 total for May and June. Our Tri-City schools are working diligently to implement their individual plans to continue learning under the restrictions imposed thanks to the novel virus. Each school will contact students and parents directly to address how they will proceed. Conversations with local Superintendents indicate that a hybrid plan will likely be the choice of most schools, whereby online technology is used where possible, but good ol’ pen and paper workbooks are implemented in cases where Internet service is not readily available. A letter from a faithful Tri-City Record reader this week asked about schools. Rex Machay asked, “I read the Record every week and I noticed no mention now that school is canceled, of a locker clean out day. “I would like to see inquiry of the Tri-City schools as to what may happen. Hartford, Watervliet, and Coloma together, we’re talking about 1,000-plus students, which means with social distancing, will take some time to do.” Thanks Rex, good question. And it’s closer to 4,500 students! For all the piles of information this reporter has gone over in the past weeks, that thought never crossed my mind, but here’s the short answer. Quoting Hartford Superintendent Andy Hubbard, “Locker cleanout would be considered non-essential and therefore off the table until after May first or whenever the restrictions are lifted.” Then speaking candidly, he shared it will take some thought, as there are some major differences between how they address high school versus elementary school which will ultimately need to be ironed out at each building level. Good answer. Each school will undoubtedly do things their own way and will reach out to their students with ongoing communications. Meanwhile – Stay the course Hang in there. It won’t be forever. Again, continue to follow the recommended best practices to slow the outbreak: Wash hands often, cough into your elbow, avoid touching face, keep safe 6-foot distance and stay home if you are able.

COVID-19 illness cluster identified at Benton Harbor long term care facility

The Berrien County Health Department and Spectrum Health Lakeland are working to investigate a cluster of COVI