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COVID-19 Toolkit

Chamber Family,

Our goal at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber is to ensure the health of employees and the continued safe operation of business here in Southwest Michigan. As such, I want our members to be armed with the information necessary to proceed in this rapidly evolving situation.

Below, we have compiled information and resources from the federal, state, and local levels to help educate citizens and business owners on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the novel Coronavirus. We will work diligently to disseminate more information as it becomes available.

Our Chamber stands ready to assist our members throughout this situation. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have.


Arthur Havlicek | President & CEO
Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber
(o) 269.932.4042

Live Map of Counties with Positive COVID-19 Tests

MDHHS Emergency Orders

On Friday, October 2, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled Governor Whitmer had no authority under a 1976 emergency law to extend Michigan’s state of emergency past April 30 without approval from the Legislature. More notably, the court also ruled 4 to 3 that it was unconstitutional for the Governor to use the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act to issue executive orders because it improperly delegated legislative powers to the executive branch.

So, what does this mean? Well, Governor Whitmer had utilized the 1945 Emergency Powers law to issue 123 executive orders since April 30. According to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman’s majority opinion, “[t]he executive orders issued by the governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now lack any basis under Michigan law.”

So, what can we expect moving forward? Ideally, the governor will work with state lawmakers to negotiate a new statutory framework for Michigan’s coronavirus response. Until then, look out for new emergency orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Yes, the MDHHS also has the power to issue emergency orders during an epidemic to ensure the "continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws.” Among the directives restored after the supreme court ruling were the mandatory mask requirement, reinstated limits on gathering sizes, and restrictions on certain establishments and activities. Be advised, AG Nessel already said these orders will be enforced. Please frequent their website to stay informed on any and all orders that are issued.

Regardless of where restrictions are coming from, businesses should continue following the public health guidance and recommendations issued by the CDC and their local county health department as it relates to their particular industry. Remember, the absence of executive orders does not mean the absence of COVID-19. The virus is real, and we still need to take it seriously.

Additionally, we as consumers must remain patient when interacting with businesses. We must recognize that businesses not only have a right to implement health and safety protocols on their private property, they have a responsibility.

Our Chamber will continue to assess the ramifications of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling and will keep our members informed of changes and directives they need to be aware of. In the meantime, let’s all come together and focus on keeping customers safe, employees healthy, and businesses open.

Promote your business on Buy Local Berrien!

The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber has launched a Buy Local Berrien! campaign on Facebook as a way to share information on how the community can support local businesses caught in the maelstrom of executive order mandates. After all, what better way to combat the potential effects of social distancing policies than with the incredible power of social media?! 

The community has more than stepped up, and the group grew from zero to over 5,000 members in just 5 days. Today, it boats over 10,000 highly engaged members all mobilized behind one person, buying local!

You do not have to be a member of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber to post and/or be promoted in this group. It is to support ALL local businesses and we encourage everyone to participate.

List your business on Southwest Michigan Safe!

Businesses who go above and beyond in the name of safety deserve to be recognized. And we'd like to recognize them in a way that informs consumers about their commitment to best practices. As such, we are proud to introduce the Southwest Michigan Safe campaign.

Here's what it entails:

  1. Visit and take the pledge to keep Southwest Michigan Safe.

    • Affirm your commitment to keeping your employees and customers safe by signing the pledge on the next page.  

  2. Display your commitment for all to see.

    • Once you’ve taken the pledge, print and share it with your employees. We also recommend displaying it in your store.

    • Chamber members who take the pledge are entitled to one free Southwest Michigan Safe window decal.

    • Every business that takes the pledge will also be listed on the swmisafe website.

See St. Joseph's Virtual Downtown!

The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber led a partnership between the City of St. Joseph, CrazeVR, and Holt Bosse to create an entire virtual downtown for consumers to "walk" through complete with links to individual storefronts. This is a state-of-the-art and first-of-its-kind solution for consumer still uncomfortable with in-person shopping and any retailer without an online presence.

How Berrien Co. Businesses Can Help

Suppliers: Does your business have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that can support organizations responding to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak? Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) is looking for suppliers capable of filling critical needs through immediate supply or manufacturing capability of these items. Please visit the site and see if your business is able to provide any of the needs listed.

Additional Information and Resources

Unemployment Benefits

We are strongly urging job providers facing work shortages to place their employees on temporary leave as opposed to termination, so that they may remain eligible for potential federal assistance.

Work Share: Work Share is a program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. With the plan, rather than being laid off, eligible employees work a reduced number of hours in the work week and receive a portion of weekly unemployment benefits. By participating in Work Share, employers are able to retain trained employees and avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees.

Unemployment Benefits: The Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) is the UIA’s system for filing your unemployment insurance claim and managing your UIA account online. MiWAM makes doing business with the UIA simpler, faster and more efficient.

HR Resources

General Resources for Employers

Disinfection and Cleaning

Health Related Resources

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) has launched a COVID-19 Hotline. Public health and other experts will answer health-related questions about COVID-19. The team can also direct residents and providers to the right resources in their local communities and in other state government departments.

The hotline will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136.

Visit the following links for the most current information from DHHS:

Senior Services

  • Caring Circle of Lakeland - Our mission at Caring Circle has always been to care for the frail, elderly or seriously ill as well as their caregivers. We also guide our community through the grieving processes. Although we are certainly working in uncertain times, our mission remains unchanged - that life is precious and we will be present for life, with timely and consistent availability. We find ourselves in a new normal. We have made accommodations to continue care. Now is a time when our services couldn’t be more in demand and of tremendous help. We are passionately committed to supporting you and the entire community.  We hope that you will turn to us to for support during these challenging times. In these uncertain times we can guide you to the right service for you and your loved one. We are available 24/7 at (269) 429-7100 or please follow this link to our website.
  • Meals on Wheel/Senior Nutrition Services
  • Region IV Area Agency on Aging
  • Pace of Southwest Michigan - Although our day center is currently closed, PACE is still providing all services such as meal distribution/preparation; transportation to medical appointments; therapy services; primary care visits either at our clinic or through telehealth or a video visit, or in person in the home if necessary; home care/chore providers; hand-delivery of medications to the home; life alert buttons; incontinence supplies and other types of DME; and many other benefits. We even stay in touch with our participants through phone calls where they can just chat with us, for socialization, to help them feel less isolated. If during this time, you know an elderly person who could use additional resources, please feel free to refer them to PACE. Even if our program turns out to not be the right fit for them, our enrollment team goes above and beyond to make sure we connect them to the resources/programs available to them. Call 269-408-4319.
  • United Way of Southwest Michigan

Best Practices

Local Links

Following are links to a variety of resources provided by the Berrien County Health Department to help educate citizens on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus.  

Information in Multiple Languages:

CDC Guidance Information For:

Healthcare Professionals.     Travel Recommendations      Faith-Based Organizations
Community Events & Gatherings       Businesses & Employers      Colleges & Universities
Law Enforcement & 1st Responders.     Childcare & Schools      Long Term Care Facilities

Other CDC Resources:

Useful Links for Employers and Employees

Following are links to a variety of resources provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help educate employers and employees on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus.