State Rep. Greg Markkanen, of Hancock, today voted to provide needed support for Michigan patients and schools as they face challenges due to COVID-19.
Supplemental funding measures approved in a vote by the Michigan House invest over $1 billion in federal relief dollars to continue moving the state forward. Hospitals and clinics on the front lines of the fight against COVID – dangerously short-staffed with many available jobs unfilled – would receive $300 million for recruitment and retention. The funds work to boost staffing levels and provide people with the care they need.
The measure also provides $134 million to buy and administer monoclonal antibodies and other promising treatments for COVID patients, including ones in the U.P. Studies suggest the treatments reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 85 percent for COVID-positive patients. With demand outpacing supply and treatments being slow to reach patients at short-staffed hospitals, the House plan will expand delivery to eight additional sites across Michigan.
“With the surge and capacity concerns we have seen at hospitals throughout the state, this is a comprehensive commitment to ensure our vital health care sector is not completely overwhelmed,” Markkanen said.
Lost learning for students has also been a noted consequence of the pandemic and shutdown orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in response, and the plan Markkanen worked to approve aims to prevent more situations that would put kids in the U.P. at a disadvantage. A total of $300 million will be provided to boost COVID rapid testing capacity in schools and offer more clarity for administrators, staff and students. Half of the funding will be authorized for distribution immediately and the other half is expected to be distributed early next year. The commitment comes on top of the $4 billion in additional COVID relief given to schools overall so they can operate effectively.
“Young people are at a pivotal time of their development,” Markkanen said. “It’s very chaotic to be in school and then out of school, or having to try and learn outside of the classroom for an extended period. This provides our schools in the U.P. with more resources so they can get a handle on potential positive cases and limit lost learning.”
The plans also include COVID-related funds for rental assistance, support of families, mental health, nursing homes and rural transit. House Bills 5523 and 4398 now move to the Senate for further consideration.
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