From money in your pocket to vaccines in your arm, the new round of COVID relief is coming to rescue Michiganders.
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WASHINGTON, DC—President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, a COVID relief package aimed at helping American businesses and families continue to endure the coronavirus pandemic as it moves into its second year.
What this means for Michiganders, specifically, is much-needed support from the federal government that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been fighting for over the past year.
Money in Your Pocket
Stimulus checks are up to a possible $1,400 check for each person. Those checks are expected to start being issued in the next few days. The first round of direct stimulus checks kept 12 million Americans out of poverty and helped struggling families across the country survive the increasing costs and decreasing resources of living in a global health emergency.
Forbes has an easy tool for Michiganders to see what the upcoming $1,400 check will look like for each person.
Tax Credit for Kids
Rather than coming all at once, these payments would be spread throughout the year, likely beginning this summer based on 2020 tax returns. The child tax credit will be a monthly payment, starting at $250 per month for children ages 6-17 and $300 for children under 6.
The Washington Post has a tool for families to calculate how much this tax credit would mean for them.
But that’s not all the benefit the COVID relief offers kids. Family care was a central part of Biden’s campaign, so it’s little surprise it became part of the relief package. With $40 billion set aside for programs like head start, Child Care and Development Block Grants and a child care stabilization fund, the relief plan will bring much-needed support to Michigan families.
More Food on the Table
For those who need food assistance, those benefits will go up. In October, 600,000 Michiganders didn’t have enough food to put on the table for their families. The pandemic made Michigan’s struggle to address hunger all the worse, with more people struggling than ever before. Those who receive food assistance will see that support increase by 15% thanks to the current round of COVID relief.
“COVID-19 has magnified the effects and challenges of food insecurity and increased the number of Michigan residents who struggle with the toxic stress of being food insecure,” said Phil Knight, chair of Michigan’s Food Security Council. “This is a non-partisan challenge, and while multi-layered, it is solvable for the second most diverse agricultural state in the US.”
Extra Unemployment Aid
As Michigan continues to fix it’s long-broken unemployment system, we’ll still get the extra $300 a month until September. The strengthened unemployment assistance from the first coronavirus relief bill last year was actually even more impactful than the direct aid to families, but thanks to an overburdened and struggling unemployment system many Michiganders were left behind. Continuing the enhancements to unemployment insurance, and making $10,000 of that support tax-free, will greatly help Michiganders still out-of-work and waiting for the assistance they desperately need.
About one out of every 20 Michiganders is relying on unemployment assistance, and this relief will be essential for their families.
Relief to your Favorite Restaurants
Significant to Michigan: $25 billion for restaurants with paying employees, making rent and keeping their doors open. This will help local businesses where Michiganders get their favorite meals survive the pandemic.
It’s not clear when the Small Business Administration (SBA) will begin accepting grant applications, but Michigan’s restaurants can keep track of their website for the latest. What is clear is that the support offered in Biden’s COVID relief package is far more generous than the loans offered earlier in the pandemic.
“This program is aimed at helping our struggling restaurants keep employees on payroll, make mortgage and rent payments, and cover other operating expenses,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) explained in a press release.
More Vaccines, Faster
Biden’s plan includes 100 million new single dose vaccines at easy-access locations like neighborhood pharmacies. Michigan has already seen the benefits of the new single-dose vaccine in Muskegon County, where an unexpected delivery of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine allowed the county health department to prioritize the unhoused and rural residents who might otherwise have had roadblocks navigating the two-shot vaccine schedule.
And as The ‘Gander discussed with Michigan experts this week, COVID relief leaning in on this vaccine is both safe and promises to help address some of the underlying issues with Michigan’s vaccine rollout to date.
If you’re looking to be vaccinated, consult the CDC’s Vaccine Finder.