LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday passed a $1.2 billion spending bill to combat COVID-19, including $300 million to help hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities give recruitment and retention bonuses to workers.
The allocation would be the latest from aid that was enacted by Congress and President Joe Biden nearly a year ago. It would be funded with half discretionary and half nondiscretionary federal pandemic dollars, leaving Michigan with $4.7 billion of the $6.5 billion with which it has broad flexibility and $1.2 billion in remaining nondiscretionary funding, according to the state budget office.
The Republican-led Senate passed the legislation 36-2. The GOP-controlled House, which approved an earlier version in December, may give it final approval later Tuesday before sending the measure to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her expected signature.
The bill includes $150 million for school safety, including to buy coronavirus tests to keep in-person learning intact; $100 million for early treatment of patients with therapeutics to blunt the worst effects of the virus; and $70 million in grants to adult foster care facilities and homes for the aged.
Nursing homes would receive $39 million to improve air quality, create isolation areas and negative pressure rooms and convert multiresident rooms to single-resident rooms. Hospitals with the most COVID-19 patients would be prioritized for $10 million in pilot funding to install ultraviolet lighting in rooms. Roughly $10 million would be used to plan and design a new state public health laboratory.
Whitmer last year proposed $220 million to build a new lab. She said the current one is inadequate, saying more room is needed and there is too much reliance on private labs where it is more expensive to process coronavirus tests. The legislation would require the state health department to give legislators a comparative assessment of constructing new labs, expanding or renovating existing ones or repurposing another state-owned building.
The vote came as infections and hospitalizations have declined from pandemic highs. The number of hospitalized adults with confirmed cases in Michigan, around 2,500, was down from nearly 4,600 three weeks ago.
Nearly 33,000 people with confirmed or probable infections have died. About 62% of residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated. Half of those ages 12 and up who are fully vaccinated have gotten a booster shot.
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