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Unemployment pay offered to Michigan workers off the job due to coronavirus

 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs a State of Emergency declaration after Michigan's first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs a State of Emergency declaration after Michigan's first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed. (WJRT)
Published: Mar. 16, 2020 at 1:12 PM EDT
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(3/16/2020) - Workers who are off the job because of coronavirus are eligible for expanded unemployment benefits.

Whitmer signed an order Monday allowing employees to obtain state jobless benefits if they need to care for a family member or aren't allowed to work due to COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.

Their eligibility continues through 11:59 p.m. April 14 unless it gets extended. Unemployment benefits will be offered to:

-- Workers dealing with an unanticipated family care responsibility due to school closures or a loved one who is ill.

-- Workers who are sick, quarantined or unable to work and who don't have access to paid leave options.

-- First responders and health care workers who become ill after exposure to a patient with COVID-19, which is the illness caused by coronavirus.

Michigan's unemployment benefit eligibility period also will increase from 20 weeks to 26 weeks and workers have 28 days to file a claim.

“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families,” Whitmer said. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families."

Displaced workers can file for unemployment benefits by calling 1-866-500-0017 or

No in-person applications will be accepted at state unemployment offices, which are closed to the public.

Businesses are not charged for employees drawing unemployment benefits due to coronavirus.

Whitmer also announced she is working with the federal Small Business Administration to offer help for Michigan businesses losing money due to slowdowns related to coronavirus.

Coronavirus symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness, fever, cough and shortness of breath. The best ways to prevent coronavirus and other viruses include:

-- Washing hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.

-- Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

-- Covering to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

-- Avoiding contact with sick people and staying home when ill.

-- Replace handshakes with elbow bumps.

-- Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

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