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Due to COVID-19, MDHHS closes lobbies except for appointments; suspends rules requiring office visits
March 17, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 034 – March 17, 2020
Contact: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112
LANSING, MICH. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today announced that MDHHS will close its lobbies to visits from the public, except for appointments, and will stop requiring residents to visit MDHHS offices in order to receive state assistance benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak.
MDHHS offices continue to serve the public and will conduct telephone interviews with all public assistance clients and applicants. As always, individuals who are applying for or receiving benefits can use www.michigan.gov/MIBridges to submit paperwork, review benefit information, report changes, apply for benefits and complete the process for redetermining eligibility for assistance. Individuals unable to use MI Bridges can call MDHHS offices to get assistance. Individual workers will schedule in-person meetings only as needed.
In addition, under a temporary policy change, families who receive or apply for cash assistance under the Family Independence Program will not be required to attend orientations at Michigan Works! offices or to engage in subsequent employment activities.
These changes are effective Wednesday, March 18, and will remain effective only as long as necessary for public health.
“Michigan is doing all it can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” Whitmer said. “We are asking residents to make smart choices by not going into group settings unless necessary. Closing MDHHS lobbies to unnecessary visits and eliminating requirements to visit offices are necessary steps in this emergency.”
About 15,000 low-income Michigan families receive monthly cash assistance through the Family Independence Program. About 7,500 beneficiaries must engage in job search or readiness activities, which require individuals to congregate in groups for orientations and then to make additional public contacts for purposes of training and employment. A typical family receives about $350 per month through the Family Independence Program.
“We’re committed to protecting public health and supporting families through this emergency,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Closing lobbies except for appointments and eliminating requirements to visit offices accomplish these objectives. We will reduce infection rates and continue to deliver financial support to families who need it.”
Michigan had identified 65 COVID-19 cases as of today.