LANSING — An additional 81,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment in Michigan last week, bringing the six-week total to more than 1.2 million amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of new filings dropped for the second consecutive week, according to a federal report released Thursday, April 30. Michigan has had some of the highest jobless claims in the country.

People can get benefits for about nine months, roughly three months longer than usual. They will receive an additional $600 a week through late July under the terms of a federal relief package.

In Lansing, hundreds joined a protest of the state’s current state of emergency on Thursday.

The protest drew smaller numbers than a similar one on April 15, although that demonstration was aimed specifically at Michigan’s stay home order, which is in place through May 15.

The state Legislature previously voted to extend the state of emergency to April 30, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had asked them to extend through the month of May.

On Thursday, the House passed a resolution allowing Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, to pursue legal action over Whitmer’s use of emergency powers. The Senate is expected to pass a similar measure.

But Whitmer maintains — and legal experts agree — that the state of emergency will remain in effect whether the Legislature votes to extend it or not. The Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 allows the governor to declare a state of emergency, and unlike the Emergency Management Act of 1976, it contains no provision for legislative approval.

The state of emergency should not be confused with the stay-at-home order, which shut down businesses not deemed essential and requires people to stay home except for essential purposes. A state of emergency must exist for a stay-at-home order to be in force, but Whitmer has said she expects the state of emergency to continue after the stay-at-home order expires.

COVID-19 deaths approach 3,800

Michigan added 980 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 119 confirmed deaths from the virus on Thursday, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Of the 119 deaths reported Thursday, 40 were found in a review of death records and testing data.

Michigan now has a total of 41,379 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,789 confirmed deaths.

COVID-19 cases in Michigan
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The Ottawa County Department of Public Health reported 236 total cases and 10 total deaths on Thursday, including one newly reported death.

Ottawa County has more than doubled in confirmed cases since it reported 129 on Monday, April 20. On Wednesday, state health officials warned that while overall case growth was slowing, there were still concerns about rising cases in parts of West Michigan.

The Allegan County Health Department reported 99 total COVID-19 cases, 18 probable cases and two previously reported deaths.

A probable case is found when an individual is symptomatic but has not been tested yet. The county began reporting probable cases on Wednesday.

Health officials from both counties believe there is evidence of community transmission and that residents should assume they could come into contact with COVID-19 any time they are in a public setting.