Michigan Senate approves $2 billion in COVID-19 aid, targets vaccine distribution

Michigan's House of Representatives approved COVID stimulus package Monday.
Michigan's House of Representatives approved COVID stimulus package Monday.(WILX)
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 3:29 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republicans who control the Michigan Senate have moved to stop the state from distributing additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to more vulnerable communities, saying race and socioeconomic status should not be factors.

Democrats say the provision, included in a $2 billion coronavirus relief funding plan approved Thursday, is “unconscionable.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is adjusting populated-based allocations of doses with a “social vulnerability index” multiplier -- which includes indicators such as poverty, unemployment, minority status, lack of transportation and crowded housing.

The $2 billion funding legislation was sent to the Republican-controlled House. The House approved a $3.5 billion COVID-19 spending plan earlier this month, which calls for spending part of Michigan’s $5 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds and holding some in reserve.

The House plan is contingent on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services giving up authority to close schools for COVID-19. Local health departments would take over that authority under the House plan.

Whitmer announced the $5.6 billion MI COVID Recovery plan in January, which calls for spending Michigan’s entire share of federal relief funds, along with about $500 million in state funds. Democrats in the Michigan House proposed a similar $5 billion COVID-19 spending plan in February.

Michigan’s share of federal COVID-19 relief funds cannot be spent until lawmakers and Whitmer reach an agreement.

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