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 straight week, according to a federal report released Thursday, April 30. Michigan has had some of the highest number of 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.

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.

“Our response needs to both protect public health and allow people to resume activities safely,” said Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, in a statement.

“Many of the governor’s decisions, while well intentioned, have been implemented poorly because they were not properly vetted though the legislative process.

“We need checks and balances going forward.”

“The legislation passed today is in no way an attempt to limit the governor’s ability to address this crisis. We simply are showing the governor that the people’s chamber wants to work with her.

“Decisions which have such a significant impact on the lives Michiganders must include transparency, accountability and be decided in the manner established by our republic.”

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 Ionia County Health Department reported 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

County health officials said testing for the virus has expanded in the county and case numbers will likely increase as a result.

“We have seen a large number of Ionia County residents get tested in the last few days,” ICHD posted on its Facebook page Thursday. “Workplaces around the County are starting to test their employees as testing capacity increases. The increase in testing is leading to an increase in the number of positive cases. We expect this to continue.

“If someone in your workplace has tested positive and you have been identified as a contact, you will be called by the Health Department.

“ICHD is confident that there is community transmission in Ionia County. The best protection you have is still to follow the governor’s executive orders and to stay home if you are able to do so.”