CoronaVirus

 

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Welcome to the Civic Center TV Coronavirus Page.  We will continue to post information we hope you will find helpful.

NEW FINANCIAL HELP FOR MICHIGAN SMALL BUSINESSES 

New financial assistance tools are coming into play this week, as the latest round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding fully opens and two Michigan-based grant programs launch application portals.

PPP’s latest funding allows for $284 billion in loans to small businesses across the United States, either up to $10 million for first-time applicants with fewer than 300 employees or up to $2 million for so-called second draws if the business can demonstrate a 25 percent or more decline in second-quarter gross receipts. The loans could turn into grants.

Applications open at 9 a.m. Tuesday for $55 million in Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program, with an additional $3.5 million earmarked for the Michigan Stages Survival Grant Program that will open to applicants on Thursday. Those chosen for survival grants can receive up to $20,000 if they were closed, or $15,000 for partial closures, while venues could receive up to $40,000. Meanwhile, a grant program for employees affected by the recent restrictions opened on Friday. Applicants can get up to $1,650.

Small businesses – or those with fewer than 500 employees – make up 99.6 percent of Michigan businesses, according to federal data from 2019. Those businesses account for about one-half of the state’s jobs.

 

 


LIVONIA NURSE TO PERFORM AT NATIONAL COVID MEMORIAL

Livonia nurse Lori Key went viral last year after singing for her fellow health care workers during the peak of the pandemic.

And on Tuesday, Key, who works at St. Mary Mercy Hospital, will sing ahead of the inauguration at a special nationwide memorial for people who have died from COVID-19.      Key said she has been singing, playing the piano and writing music her entire life.

Key said being a nurse during COVID-19 has been challenging, but she made it through with the help of her family, church and fellow nurses.

 


 MICHIGAN SHOWS DECLINE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES AND DEATHS 

Michigan’s two-day count of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths declined over the weekend, indicating possible progress with vaccinations along with social distancing and mask-wearing.

The state reported 2,843 new cases and just 20 deaths for Sunday and Monday, bringing the total number to 538,377 cases and 13,824 deaths since the start of the pandemic in Michigan last March.

 

For Sunday and Monday there were 319 cases and two deaths in Oakland County, 307 cases and one death in Wayne County, 256 cases and no deaths in Macomb County, and 136 cases and two deaths in Detroit.

Meanwhile, the number of people vaccinated against the virus rose to 405,992,  including 54,503 in Oakland County.

Southeast Michigan has been the epicenter of the case total and deaths from the virus, although there have been hotspots elsewhere in the state over the past 10 months.

 

 

 


VACCINE ROLLOUT A NIGHTMARE FOR TEACHERS  

After months of teaching children through a computer screen, balancing time between home and the classroom, then finally getting the green light to return to a bit of normalcy, Michigan teachers are dealing with another setback — many can’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.

And it’s not for lack of trying.

In the last week, many teachers across metro Detroit have been dealing with a logistical nightmare in their efforts to get vaccinated by March 1. That’s when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants all schools to offer some type of in-class learning, though many teachers fear they might not be vaccinated in time given the confusion and backlogs they’ve encountered since they became eligible for the vaccine on Jan. 6.

Many teachers can’t get vaccine appointments, even after trying for days.

Phone calls to county health departments are going unanswered.

Online vaccine reservations keep filling up.

And even those who have gotten their first dose are worried about getting the second shot because no new appointments are available, so they’re planning on just showing up when the second dose is due and crossing their fingers.

 


 BIRMINGHAM FIRE CHIEF WANTS TO ADMINISTER VACCINE TO RESIDENTS 

The city of Birmingham wants a shot with the shots.

It’s asking the state of Michigan and Oakland County if it can receive COVID-19 vaccine doses so paramedics can inoculate the city’s residents, particularly senior citizens and essential workers, through a pilot program.

The city is armed with enough needles and syringes to vaccinate 5,500 residents, said Paul Wells, fire chief and the city’s emergency manager.

The county welcomes its community partners offering ideas on how to help.

“We’re open to looking at other means for administering the vaccine, but we don’t have adequate supply right now to implement something directly into a community. We just have vaccine supply to operate as we have been: drive-thrus at various sites in the county,” said Bill Mullan, spokesman for County Executive Dave Coulter.

In his written request, Wells said the fire department administers more than 150 flu vaccines annually to city employees and has been doing so for 25 years. He said it is an advanced life support agency with 32 licensed paramedics, 90% of whom have already received the COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to giving the shots, trained paramedics would be on standby for the 15-minute observation period after a shot has been given to watch for any allergic reactions.


 MICHIGAN IDENTIFIES FIRST CASE OF COVID-19 VARIANT 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified the state’s first case of the new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7., on Saturday in an adult female living in Washtenaw County.

The woman recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where the variant originated, according to an announcement from the department. The person’s close contacts have been informed and are in quarantine.

B.1.1.7. is believed to be more contagious, but there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for months, the health department said in a press release.

On Friday, a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the variant’s higher rate of transmission would lead to “more cases, increasing the number of persons overall who need clinical care, exacerbating the burden on an already strained health care system and resulting in more deaths.”

 


NEWEST VACCINE TIMELINE PUSHES LOWEST PRIORITY GROUPS FURTHER INTO 2021  

Michigan’s new projected timeline for vaccine distribution looks much different than the estimates announced by the state health department in mid-December. According to that timeline, the final priority group, which includes the general public 16 years and older, was expected to begin receiving the vaccine in weeks 15-20, or late March/early April.  Now, the general public may not be able to get vaccinated until August.

State officials say significant reductions in the number of vaccine doses the state has received from the federal government, compared to expectations, is to blame for a slower-than-anticipated rollout of vaccines. The state planned for 300,000 doses per week, but has reportedly received 60,000 per week.


COMPANIES PUSH INCENTIVES FOR EMPLOYEES TO GET VACCINATED 

As vaccinations continue across the U.S., some companies are offering financial incentives to encourage their workers to get the shots.

Instacart Inc., the grocery delivery service, announced Thursday that it would provide a $25 stipend for workers who get the COVID-19 vaccine. It joins others, including Trader Joe’s and Dollar General, which plans to pay workers extra if they get vaccinated.

A vaccine advisory panel at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control voted late last month on recommendations for vaccine distribution. The panel said grocery workers – which would include Instacart and Dollar General’s employees – should be in the second group to receive shots after health care workers and nursing home residents.

 

Companies can mandate that workers get COVID-19 vaccines as a requirement for employment, although they must make accommodations for medical or religious reasons, according to guidance from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

 


 MICHIGAN REPORTS 2,698 NEW COVID-19 CASES, 139 DEATHS 

The Michigan health department reported 2,698 new cases of COVID-19 and 139 new deaths Thursday.

Michigan now has a total of 531,004 confirmed cases and 13,672 confirmed deaths since March.

Of the 139 additional deaths reported Thursday, 107 were identified during a vital records review, which the state health department conducts three times a week.

As of Wednesday, the state has shipped 831,150 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and has administered 368,844 — 44.3% of those shipped.

Michigan had a positivity rate of 6.26% Wednesday, reporting that 3,057 of 48,872 diagnostic test results returned were positive.

 


 OAKLAND COUNTY RESIDENTS CAN NOW RESERVE A SPOT FOR COVID-19 VACCINE  

Oakland County residents included in Phase 1C of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan cannot yet make an appointment due to limited supply, but can now reserve a spot in line when the vaccine becomes more widely available.

Beginning Monday, state health officials moved into the next phase of the vaccination, Phase 1C, to include residents 65 years of age and over, preK-12 teachers and staff, child care workers, and other frontline workers. Appointments are being limited to vaccine supply county-by-county.

County residents included in this next phase can visit www.oaklandcountyvaccine.com to reserve a spot in line for when the county receives enough vaccine doses to begin making appointments. Countywide, there are over 217,000 residents age 65 and older that would be eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1C of vaccination.

 


INDOOR DINING BAN EXTENDED, OTHER RESTRICTIONS LIFTED 

Michigan is extending the dine-in ban again, although Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said state leaders hope to reopen restaurants on Feb. 1 when the latest extension expires.

If Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers keep declining, Whitmer said indoor dining may be allowed to restart Feb. 1 with mask requirements, capacity limits and a curfew.

More restrictions have been lifted under the latest order, which goes into effect on Saturday, Jan. 16. Indoor fitness classes and non-contact sports can restart, while indoor dining, water parks and night clubs are among the sectors still closed.

Michigan residents laid off during this latest partial shutdown are eligible for $1,650 from the state, as part of a $45 million program. Impacted businesses are also eligible for up to $20,000 from the state. This is part of how Michigan is propping up the hospitality industry it has shut down, Whitmer said.

 


SENATE REPUBLICANS CONSIDER REJECTING WHITMER APPOINTEES UNTIL RESTRICTIONS LIFTED 

As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a continuation of the statewide, indoor restaurant dining ban through at least Feb. 1, frustrated Senate Republicans floated the possibility of rejecting gubernatorial appointees until COVID-19 related closures cease.

 

The indoor dining ban has been the most controversial of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, as Michigan is one of only three states with a statewide ban on indoor dining, according to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association

 

Many of the governor’s appointments to state boards and commissions are subject to advice and consent of the Senate, meaning the Senate has the authority to reject eligible appointees within 60 days.

 

Should the Senate follow through and act unilaterally on Whitmer’s appointments over the last few months, the move could affect dozens of appointments to university boards and state commissions Whitmer has made over the last few months and could also have implications on future appointments.

 


INDOOR DINING LIKELY TO NOT RETURN UNTIL FEBRUARY 1ST 

An association that represents bars and restaurants in Michigan says it expects Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to announce Wednesday a plan to allow indoor dining to resume Feb. 1.

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association posted on Facebook Tuesday that the Feb. 1 plan will give owners time to work with their supply chains and figure out staffing. The plan will likely include limited capacity and a curfew, the association added.

Indoor dining at bars and restaurants has been suspended in Michigan since Nov. 18 amid a surge in COVID-19 infections. The state’s most recent epidemic order closed indoor dining through Friday.

The state reported 21,955 new coronavirus cases last week. The total was up from the previous week but well below the 50,892 cases reported the week of Nov. 15-21, the week the governor initially closed indoor dining at bars and restaurants.


 MICHIGAN TO RECEIVE MORE VACCINE AFTER FEDS DECIDE TO RELEASE SECOND DOSES 

The Trump administration will release additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to states across the nation as it directs its agencies to no longer hold back the second dose of the two-shot vaccines and open vaccination to those over 65.

Michigan opened vaccination to those over 65 on Monday, but the federal government’s release of the second doses is expected to infuse the state with more vaccine availability after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged the federal government for more.

With more than 2.5 million Michigan residents now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, there isn’t enough available to vaccinate everyone who qualifies

Whitmer claimed the distribution of the vaccines was in part due to a request from her administration and eight other governors to release the additional vaccines being held back from distribution to the states.

 


NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST REQUIRED FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS

Travelers flying into the United States from international destinations will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new policy Tuesday and said it will go into effect Jan. 26. The agency said it hopes the new testing requirement will help slow the spread of the virus, currently surging in the United States, as the vaccine rollout continues.

The CDC said travelers must get a viral test within three days before their flight to the U.S., which will likely send some vacationers scrambling to find locations during their trip.

Passengers will have to show proof of a negative test to their airline before boarding.  If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery from COVID-19, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding, the CDC says.

 

 


GOVERNOR WANTS TO PURCHASE 100,000 VACCINE DOSES DIRECTLY 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked the federal government for permission for the state to make a one-time purchase of up to 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine directly from Pfizer.

Whitmer, a Democrat, made the request in a letter to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It comes after she urged Republican President Donald Trump’s administration last week to release millions of vaccine doses that she said had been “held back.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense have previously announced agreements with Pfizer and Moderna for the purchase of mass amounts of vaccine doses and their delivery.

The doses Whitmer is requesting to purchase will be “administered consistent” with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, her letter says.

 


SUBURBAN COLLECTION SHOWPLACE TO BE UTILIZED FOR VACCINE DISTRIBUTION SITE  

The Oakland County Health Division is planning to utilize the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents.

At this time, a contract agreement has not been finalized, but “it’s getting close,” according to Bill Mullan, the county’s media and communications officer.

Discussions are still underway about whether the vaccinations would occur outside or inside the 340,000-square-foot building, the regions’ third-largest convention center which was transformed into a regional field hospital last year to treat COVID-19 patients as hospitals reached patient capacity during the earlier parts of the pandemic.

Right now, the county is conducting COVID-19 testing and vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at drive-thru sites, mostly fire stations, across the county including Holly, Rochester, Pontiac, Novi, Waterford, South Lyon, and Southfield. This week, the county is utilizing sites in Waterford, Holly, Southfield, and Novi.

 

In Oakland County, the health division will not be making appointments for vaccines that are not in hand. Residents can visit https://oaklandcountyvaccine.com/ to view updated information on vaccine availability.

 

 


 AUTO SHOW RELOCATING TO PONTIAC DUE TO COVID CONCERNS 

After years spent trying to reinvent itself as an indoor-outdoor event that would fill downtown Detroit with new cars and automotive festivities, the North American International Auto Show is folding its tent for 2021, relocating from TCF Center on the city’s riverfront to M1 Concourse, a small development that includes a racetrack surrounded by luxury garages in Pontiac.

The new show, renamed Motor Bella, will be “a bridge to the future” of the auto show, according to a statement by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which runs the auto show.

Motor Bella will have an abbreviated run Sept. 21-26, considerably less than the original plan for events in downtown Detroit from Sept. 24-Oct. 9. The name “Motor Bella” was going to be used for a satellite show featuring Italian and English luxury and performance vehicles. Organizers expect the revised event to feature a wide range of brands and vehicles as well as demos of advanced technology and performance.

 


michigan ENTERS NEW VACCINE PHASE  

Michigan moves into the next phase of vaccinations Monday, which includes teachers, first responders, childcare providers and residents 65 years of age and older.

Eligible essential workers, teachers and childcare workers will be notified by their employers about vaccine clinic dates and locations, Gov. Whitmer said. Eligible residents should not go to any of the clinics without an appointment.

Residents might not be able to get an appointment right away and availability is different depending on region.

The new phase is a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still major problems and struggles to meet demand.

As the pool of those who are able to be vaccinated grows, the supply has remained far short of expected.


BEAUMONT TRIPLES SERVER CAPACITY AFTER VACCINE DEMAND CRASHES SYSTEM 

Beaumont Health has tripled its server capacity over the weekend after its website crashed Friday due to heavy demand for COVID-19 vaccines.   Beaumont said it will begin vaccinating people 65 and older on Monday.

The surge in demand occurred after Beaumont notified patients Thursday night that vaccinations would be available to people 65 and older.   On a typical day, Beaumont processes 900 online appointments. On Friday, 25,000 people tried to register for an appointment.


GOVERNOR ENCOURAGES SCHOOL DISTRICTS RETURN TO IN-PERSON LEARNING 

 Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration set a goal Friday for all schools to offer an in-person learning option for their students by March 1, nearly a year after she first closed K-12 buildings because of the coronavirus.

Whitmer announced new guidance for schools as some districts have offered only online courses for the last 10 months

The new guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says schools should assign children to cohort groups and limit their interactions to those groups in a bid to reduce their number of contacts.

The department also wants schools to keep children 6 feet apart from one another to the “extent feasible,” provide “adequate hand sanitizing supplies” and improve air ventilation. Anyone who is considered a “close contact” of someone who tests positive should quarantine for 10 days, according to guidance shared Friday.


 Oakland County EXPERIENCING VACCINE SHORTAGE 

While the state of Michigan has expanded its vaccine plan to include those 65 and older and essential workers, patience is required due to a shortage of vaccine

Oakland County has placed a message on its website that there are no available vaccine appointments. They will be added based on the vaccine supply received from the state.

“Oakland County is in the early stages of administering the COVID-19 vaccine but supply is limited. Our Health Department is currently vaccinating priority 1A individuals including emergency medical personnel, healthcare workers, and residents of long-term care facilities,’’ Oakland County Executive David Coulter said in a statement issued on Thursday.

“We look forward to expanding to the next phase which will include essential workers and residents 65 and older but ask for their patience because the number of appointments available is limited to the number of doses we have received from the state,’’ Coulter said. “We urge the State of Michigan to increase Oakland County’s vaccine allotment while expanding the number of providers administering the vaccine.

Go to Oakgov.com/COVID and press the vaccine button for more information on vaccine supply and scheduling appointments. Continue to check the website for timely updates.


michigan TO ACCELERATE COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM 

Michigan will start vaccinating more seniors, teachers and others in the fight against COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday, as she and state officials outlined in specific detail who should receive the COVID-19 vaccine next and when they believe that can happen.

Whitmer acknowledged there have been struggles with getting available doses injected into people, but pledged the state would ramp up vaccinations as quickly and safely as possible.

This ramp up will start Monday. Those newly eligible for the vaccine will include:

  • Any Michigander 65 and older
  • Police officers
  • K-12 teachers
  • Prison and jail officers
  • Child care providers

Whitmer said local health departments are offering appointments through their websites, and encouraged those eligible to sign up right away. She stressed getting the appointment is crucial to avoid waiting in long lines without a scheduled time to receive a vaccine. People should go to Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine to schedule an appointment.


michigan MAY ALREADY HAVE MUTANT STRAIN OF COVID-19 VIRUS 

No cases of the mutated COVID-19 virus identified in the United Kingdom have been found in Michigan, but the state’s laboratory in Lansing is on the lookout for the strain, the state’s top epidemiologist said on Wednesday.

Called B.1.1.7 variant, the virus is much more contagious than the current strain but is not believed to cause more serious illness. The mutated virus has been identified in COVID-19 patients in California, Colorado and New York.

“We have not yet detected it in Michigan,” said Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “I don’t think we would be surprised if it was here already.”

Lyon-Callo said that knowledge about the variant SARS-CoV-2 virus may change as more data emerges.


michigan WILL HOLD OFF ON LOOSENING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS 

Coronavirus infections and hospitalization levels have been mostly positive in recent weeks. But the latest state data suggest these trends may have reached a plateau.

That prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to say the state will hold off, for now, on loosening COVID-19 restrictions.  On Wednesday, the state reported 4,326 new infections, the highest number yet in January-and the most in three weeks.  The jump in cases follows steady declines in early December through the holidays.

Whitmer, whose health director had put restrictions on some businesses like restaurants and bars through Jan. 15, has said any decision on relaxing them before that date will have to wait a few more days to see if there is a post-holiday surge in infections.


michigan covid-19 vaccination rate among worst in the nation 

Michigan has the sixth-worst COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country, according to federal data released this week, as health care officials report some people initially eligible for inoculation are holding off.

The state had 992 per 100,000 people “initiating vaccination” or getting their first dose of the available two-dose vaccines through Monday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate was better only than Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona and Kansas, the nation’s worst at 692 per 100,000 people.

State health officials argue the CDC’s data is lagging Michigan’s, which shows more than 140,000 doses administered through Monday compared with the CDC’s “tracker” number of more than 99,000 doses.

The state’s hospital association, meanwhile, said the rate is expected to improve as health care workers see no or minimal side effects for the first vaccinated front-line workers and efforts ramp up.


300 michigan national guard members receive covid-19 vaccine

Three hundred members of the Michigan National Guard working on COVID-19 vaccination and testing teams have received their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a news release issued by the National Guard Tuesday.

The vaccinations were administered by National Guard members who have also been supporting Michigan health care agencies at the behest of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in the initial vaccination of medical personnel in hospitals across the state, according to the news release. The first batch of vaccines was given at the Detroit Light Guard Armory on Thursday, officials said.

The National Guard is expected to receive 20 percent of the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccinations, officials said. The receipt of the immunization is voluntary, however. The Michigan National Guard vaccination plan is similar to the plan for civilians; first, to frontline health care workers, like Guard members of the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Teams, followed by those members that have duties that do not allow them to work from home.


kid rock donates $100,000 to help struggling small businesses 

Dave Portnoy, a social media celebrity and founder of Barstool Sports, a sports blog and digital media company created a relief fund, fueled through donations including $500,000 of his own money, to help small businesses nationwide impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the same fund that Kid Rock is helping to support. Rock tweeted on Monday that he made a donation of $100,000 to the fund and hopes others follow.

“THIS IS THE AMERICA I LOVE!” Put me down for 100K,” Rock Tweeted. “And I only post this in hopes others as blessed as me may be moved to help out. – Kid Rock”

Champs Pub in downtown Brighton is one of the many restaurants that will be helped.  In just over two weeks, more than 18 million dollars has been raised.

One of the rules for applying is that businesses must still be paying its employees. You also have to submit what you need the money for. The fund is open to gyms, restaurants, bars and more.


MICHIGAN TO DISTRIBUTE 3.5 MILLION FREE KN95 MASKS 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is distributing 3.5 million free masks as part of the state’s Mask Up, Mask Right campaign.

Free KN95 masks provided by MDHHS will be distributed by community organizations, including local MDHSS offices, health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices.

N95 masks have the highest effectiveness rating and are meant for health-care workers in higher-risk settings. The KN95 are similar but are slightly less effective.

Health officials recommend the general public uses a KN95 mask, three-layered disposable mask or three-layered washable cloth face covering when outside the house to protect against COVID-19. They also urge people to includes wear the masks correctly, by ensuring having it secured over the nose and mouth and snugly fitting without gaps.

Residents who need masks can pick one up from partner sites across the state. Find a distribution site at Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan or call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136.

 


128,000 MICHIGANDERS HAVE RECEIVED THE covid-19 VACCINE 

In the first three weeks of availability, 128,390 Michiganders have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the state health department announced Monday, Jan. 4.

The state has administered 65,181 shots over the last week, or about 9,312 vaccines per day. With 379,325 doses distributed to the state’s various providers to-date, that means nearly 34% of on-hand vaccines have been administered as of Sunday, Jan. 3, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Monday’s update was the first in five days after a pause in reporting due to the holidays and subsequent weekend.  Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for MDHHS, said she anticipates vaccinations will move more quickly in the coming weeks now that we’re past the holiday season.

Of the vaccines administered through Sunday, 103,940 were done so in hospitals and 16,559 were done through local health departments. Another 7,094 were administered through the long-term care program, which works with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to get shots to staff and residents of nursing homes and other care facilities.

MDHHS plans to provide updated counts for vaccinations and vaccine distributions each afternoon Monday through Friday through its online vaccine dashboard. Monday’s update came after the state announced it had surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 


 MICHIGAN LISTS 106 NEW CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAKS 

Health officials are tracking 1,049 known and active coronavirus outbreaks, including 106 new clusters discovered over the last week and 943 ongoing clusters. 

Long-term care facilities make up almost 47% of known and active outbreaks, thanks in-part to mandated regular testing or staff and residents. Manufacturing and construction sites moved up to No. 2 with 113 active outbreaks (11%), knocking K-12 schools (7%) down to No. 3.

Other leading settings include retail (7%), health-care (6%) and office settings (5%).

The Department of Health and Human Services’ most recent weekly outbreaks report was published online Monday, Jan. 4, with information collected for the seven days ending Wednesday, Dec. 30. The state’s online outbreak tracker is updated weekly on Mondays.

This week’s report marked a 9.5% decrease in total active outbreaks over one week, and an 18% decrease over two weeks. 

An outbreak is generally defined as an instance in which two or more cases are linked by a place and time, indicating a shared exposure outside of a household.

covid-19 vaccine distribution off to a good start in Oakland County

The distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 in the first few weeks has gone “surprisingly well” for the Oakland County Health Division.

“Our capacity is pretty amazing at what we’re able to accomplish because what we’ve learned is basically we can deploy our staff, which has been cross-trained,’’ said Dr. Russell Faust, medical director of the OCHD which employs about 400.

In Oakland County, 43,100 vaccines had been distributed as of Tuesday, Dec. 29, per the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

So far the county has been vaccinating Emergency Medical Services workers. The hospitals take care of vaccinating their front-line staff and the federal government has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to provide vaccinations for skilled nursing residents and their caregivers.


michigan records nearly 9,000 covid-19 cases in 3 days 

Michigan reported 8,983 coronavirus cases and 265 deaths over three days, according to state health leaders.

Because of the holiday, the state did not report daily coronavirus statistics for Thursday, Dec. 31 and Friday, Jan. 1.

Over the three-day period, the state had an average of 2,994 cases per day.

Michigan now has a total of 497,127 COVID-19 cases and 12,598 deaths since the pandemic began in March

The latest data on testing shows a positive test rate of 9.33 percent on Dec. 29, based on 46,908 total tests. Heath leaders say they want the positive rate below 5 percent. Earlier this year, they set 3 percent as a benchmark to show that coronavirus spread was under control.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has been decreasing in recent weeks after experiencing a high during the second wave of the pandemic.

 


how michigan residents will find out when to get the covid-19 vaccine 

Michigan is still months away from offering COVID-19 vaccines to the general public — and it’s unclear how or if people will know when it’s their turn to get the shot.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has an initial goal of vaccinating 70% of people age 16 and older, or about 5.6 million people, by the end of 2021.

State health officials have developed a two-phase plan to prioritize who gets the vaccine first, starting with health care workers and nursing home residents. They will be followed by people in other essential jobs and groups at greatest risk of severe illness based on their age or health conditions.

While people in the United Kingdom are notified by mail when it’s time to get their COVID-19 vaccine, the best way for Michigan residents to learn when it’s their turn will be to check the state’s COVID-19 vaccination website at www.michigan.gov/covidvaccine, according to state health officials. Information on where to find the vaccine will be posted at VaccineFinder.org, a national website that lists locations where vaccinations are available.  A media ad campaign is also in the works to help inform the public of who is available for the vaccination at any given time.


confusion over testing prompts another fall sports stoppage 

The resumption of the fall postseason is back on hold just a little over 24 hours after it got started again.

On Tuesday, the Michigan High School Athletic Association and athletic administrators were informed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that practices should not have resumed Monday, as the pilot testing program had not been started.

The MHSAA then released a statement to the media Tuesday night indicating it would once again have to adjust its postseason schedule for football, volleyball and girls swimming & diving. Those dates have yet to be determined.

All conditioning, training and practice activities for fall tournament schools are paused through Sunday, Dec. 27.   Webinars will be conducted on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 28-29 to train school volunteers that will be involved in the testing process.  Fall schools should expect to receive the rapid tests with simplified instructions by Tuesday, Dec. 29.   Once the first tests have been administered on Wednesday, Dec. 30, team practices may commence. If schools are delayed in the start of testing, those schools may begin practice once individuals have been tested.

With testing not beginning until Dec. 30, tournament dates would also be delayed by one week. Confirmation of the updated tournament dates will be announced soon.  Each athlete will be required to take three tests a week on non-consecutive days while practicing and competing in their respective fall tournament.

 


 oakland county goes hollywood to help fight covid-19 fatigue 

Actress Kristen Bell, who was grew up in Huntington Woods, has joined Oakland County’s new public education campaign that encourages residents to remain vigilant and follow health and safety measures to help control the spread of COVID-19 as they wait to be vaccinated.

The 1998 graduate of Royal Oak Shrine Catholic High School has posted a new appeal on her Instagram page that reinforces the messaging of Oakland County’s “The Only Way To Beat It Is To Face It” awareness push that kicked off Dec. 7.

“Here’s the good news – things WILL get back to normal eventually. They will! But, we’re not quite there yet,” said Bell, who had her breakout film role in 2008 as the title character in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and has nearly 15 million Instagram followers.

The county campaign is funded by a federal CARES Act grant. In addition to Bell’s Instagram message, the campaign features public service announcements by other local celebrities and Oakland County influencers such as former Detroit Lions football great Lomas Brown Jr., former Red Wings hockey star Darren McCarty and Olympic gold medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” champion Meryl Davis.


 can employers require covid-19 vaccine? 

Can employers make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

Yes, with some exceptions.

Experts say employers can require employees to take safety measures, including vaccination. That doesn’t necessarily mean you would get fired if you refuse, but you might need to sign a waiver or agree to work under specific conditions to limit any risk you might pose to yourself or others.

“Employers generally have wide scope” to make rules for the workplace, said Dorit Reiss, a law professor who specializes in vaccine policies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. “It’s their business.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has allowed companies to mandate the flu and other vaccines, and has also indicated they can require COVID-19 vaccines.

There are exceptions; for example, people can request exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

And even though employers can require vaccinations, there are reasons they might not want to.

Tracking compliance with mandatory vaccination would be an administrative burden, Employers would also have to manage exemption requests and legal claims that might arise.

 


two oakland county schools report new covid-19 outbreaks 

Of the 65 total COVID-19 school outbreaks in Michigan for the week ending Dec. 18, six occurred at two schools and a school district maintenance facility in Oakland County

At Holy Family Regional in Rochester, two outbreaks were reported involving students and staff.   At Clarkston Elementary two staff outbreaks appeared on the list.   And there were two outbreaks at Farmington Hills School Maintenance on 10 Mile Road.

That totals is down from last week when 18 outbreaks were reported at four Oakland County schools.    Ongoing outbreaks continue to be listed at eight schools in Oakland County including Oakland University which has had 31 outbreaks involving both students and staff.

High school and college students across the state were banned from in-person learning starting Nov. 18 under orders of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. However that order expired and high school students can now go back to in-person learning. Colleges and universities can return to face-to-face classes on Jan. 19.

 


 michigan to receive 121,000 doses of covid-19 vaccine 

Michigan health officials expect to receive 120,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccines each of the next two weeks.

The increase in doses over last week’s allotment comes as Michigan is now scheduled to receive shipments of the Michigan-made Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as well as the newly approved Moderna vaccine, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

However, Michigan officials say the number of doses is still well below what was previously indicated by the federal government. The state received 84,825 doses in the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine last week. 

Workplaces, especially larger employers like the Detroit automakers, could soon play a critical informational and coordination role in helping the state meet its goal of inoculating at least 70% of adults before the end of 2021.   How exactly the vaccine will be distributed to essential workers and to the general public has yet to be determined.

 


mdhhs launches text message outreach 

If you get a text message this week from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), it’s not a scam. The state is reaching out via text to encourage people to sign up for the MI COVID Alert app. 

The state launched the contract tracing app this fall.  It can tell you if you’ve been within 6 feet of someone who tested positive of COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes.  The app relies on Bluetooth to determine location and users to anonymously input whether they have tested positive. The text messages sent this week has a link in it to send you to the app page. 

Downloading is free, and success of the MI COVID Alert app depends on how many participate. As of Monday, only 9.5% of Michiganders have downloaded the app.    Research shows it can be effective if as few as 15% of the population signs up.

 


michigan’s new covid-19 order in effect 

Michigan’s new COVID-19 order is officially in effect, so here is what reopened Monday, as well as what remains closed.

The updated restrictions allow many entertainment venues to reopen with limited capacity, primarily those in which people can remain masked and socially distanced. They are not allowed to serve food or drinks.

Total capacity at those indoor venues will be capped at 100. Visitors must keep masks on and practice social distancing

The venues allowed to reopen included:  arenas, amusement parks, bowling alleys, casinos, cinemas, concert halls, gun ranges, movie theaters, performance venues and stadiums.  Groups are limited to single households of up to six people.  The revised order is in effect through Jan. 15.

 


michigan senate approves $465 million bill for covid-19 relief 

The Michigan Senate Friday night approved a $465 million supplemental spending bill that will address millions of dollars in COVID-related needs throughout the state, including $220 million toward unemployment benefits, $22.5 million for testing of vulnerable populations, more than $57 million for vaccination efforts and more than $55 million in small business survival grants.

The allocations, which will head to the House for approval Monday, bring the Legislature’s COVID-related appropriations to $4 billion, said Sen. Jim Stamas, the Midland Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The allocation is less than the $734 million supplemental and $100 million in direct financial support to families and small businesses recommended by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month. But the supplemental approved 35-2 Friday comes after days of negotiations between the Democratic governor and GOP-led Legislature.

 


 michigan bishops raise moral concerns with some covid-19 VACCINEs 

Michigan’s seven Catholic bishops said COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna are “morally permissible” but raised concerns about AstraZenca’s vaccine using a cell line that originated from tissue of an aborted fetus.

The Catholic bishops issued a statement on what they called the “morality of COVID-19 vaccines.”

“It is morally permissible to receive the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna,” the bishops said.

“Neither of these vaccines have used cell lines originating in tissue taken from aborted babies in their design, development, and production.

“The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca is more morally problematic, however,” the bishops wrote.

This vaccine may be received only if there are no other alternatives. If one does not have a choice of vaccine and a delay in immunization may bring about serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others, it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

 

 


  OAKLAND COUNTY RECEIVES FIRST ROUND OF COVID-19 VACCINE 

The first 1,950 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer arrived Thursday at Oakland County Health Division, health officials said Thursday.

Initial vaccinations will begin by appointment only on Friday in Waterford for emergency medical service personnel who have indirect or direct exposure to patients and to help keep emergency response systems open and functioning in Oakland County, the county said in a news release.

Vaccinations for EMS workers will continue in the coming days at various locations, according to county health officials. The Health Division is coordinating with EMS companies and fire departments to stagger doses among their employees. The Health Division also is offering the vaccine to its public health nurses who will be vaccinating EMS workers and eventually other members of the public at the county’s drive-thru locations when it becomes available to the general public.

 

The Health Division expects to receive its next round of doses sometime after the first of the year, officials said.

 


 PONTIAC EATERIES HOLD OUTDOOR EVENT TO BENEFIT RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES  

Four restaurants in downtown Pontiac will be holding an outdoor event this weekend to benefit the over 30 employees among the eateries.

Fillmore 13 Brewery, Alley Cat Café, Little MO and Exferimentation Brewing Co. will be serving various menu items and beverages, including beer and wine. The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19 next to Fillmore 13 Brewery on Saginaw Street. Diners will be seated in tents with a fire pit, music and a 50-50 raffle.

All of the proceeds from the event will be distributed among the employees of the restaurants in hopes of putting a little extra money in the pockets of those who have been laid-off due to the coronavirus before the holiday season, according to Lee Roumaya, owner of Fillmore 13.

Separate monetary donations can also be made directly during the event or by calling one of the four restaurants.

 


 mICHIGAN SENATE APPROVES CREATION OF COMMITTEE TO SUSPEND PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS BETWEEN SESSIONS  

The Michigan legislature has fought executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her state agencies all year long, and took a step Thursday to deal another blow to the administration’s efforts to mandate coronavirus precautions.

Just before the end of the legislative session, the Michigan Senate laid the groundwork to put a measure in place to suspend any Whitmer administration order issued before the next session starts in January.

State senators approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 36, introduced by Sen. John Bizon, R-Battle Creek, by a voice vote without discussion. If also approved by the House, it would create a committee with the potential power to suspend any rule or regulation introduced by a state agency in between the end of the current lame-duck session and the start of the 2021-22 session on Jan. 13.

 


 moderna covid-19 vaccine in final fda review  

A second COVID-19 vaccine likely will receive a thumbs up Thursday from an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which authorized the first one a week ago.

This time, the committee is reviewing a vaccine made by Cambridge, Massachusetts, biotech Moderna, with similar technology and results as the one it supported last week by Pfizer and its German collaborator, BioNTech.

A clinical trial in 30,000 volunteers showed that the Moderna vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing COVID-19, including serious disease. The vaccine causes frequent side effects like sore arms, fatigue, muscle aches and chills, but all were temporary.

If this independent group gives its OK, the vaccine will go to the FDA commissioner for his approval, likely Friday. An independent advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning this weekend to consider adding the vaccine to the national adult vaccine schedule, and if they sign off, it will go to the CDC director for his approval.

 


michigan  launches coronavirus vaccine dashboard

A total of 244 Michigan residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday, Dec. 15, according to a new COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard launched today to help Michiganders track information about the vaccine.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard includes data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry on the number of providers enrolled to provide the vaccine, the amount of vaccine received and doses administered. The dashboard will be expanded over the coming weeks to include vaccination coverage rates by age and race, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

MDHHS also has updated information in its priority groups for vaccination administration document.

Based on the updates, teens age 16 and 17 can receive the vaccine. The previous MDHHS guidance was recommending the vaccine for ages 18 and older but lowered the age based on new federal recommendations.

“While there is not currently data on the safety and efficacy of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that pregnant women may be offered the vaccine within the priority groups upon consultation with their medical provider,” the MDHHS press release said.

 


michigan bans faulty hand sanitizer 

Bamboo brand hand sanitizer is being stripped from store shelves in Michigan after a state investigation found the product didn’t have enough alcohol in it to be effective.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a “Stop-Use and Stop-Removal Order” for the product, effective immediately.

The 3.3-ounce Bamboo hand sanitizer bottle boasts it contains 75% alcohol. Tests showed it contained less than 60%, however. Hand sanitizer must be at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or 60 percent ethyl alcohol to be considered effective, per the Michigan Weights and Measures Act.

With the order, the Bamboo moisturizing hand sanitizer is not allowed to be sold in Michigan anymore and must be immediately removed from store shelves, effective Tuesday, Dec. 15.


FDA ALLOWS OVER THE COUNTER HOME COVID-19 TEST

The first home test for COVID-19 that doesn’t require a prescription will soon be on U.S. store shelves.

U.S. regulators Tuesday authorized the rapid coronavirus test, which can be done entirely at home. The announcement by the Food and Drug Administration represents another important step in efforts to expand testing options.

Regulators granted emergency use for a similar home test last month, but that one needs a doctor’s prescription.

Initial supplies of the over-the-counter test will be limited. The kit includes a nasal swab, a chemical solution and a testing strip. The test connects digitally to a smart phone app that displays the results and then helps interpret the results. Users can also connect with a health professional via the app.  For people with insurance, federal law requires that plans cover the cost of COVID-19 testing.


  AG WARNS PUBLIC OF SCAMS AS COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLS OUT

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is urging residents to be wary of COVID-19 scams now that a vaccine for the virus has been approved. 

Nessel on Tuesday said residents should beware of fake vaccines, treatments, and clinical trials that scammers are going to be using as ways to potentially scam people. She said any treatment or vaccine people see online should also be flagged. 

“The bottom line really is this: Do not buy a treatment or a vaccine online,” she said, “and always consult a medical professional and do not respond to text messages, emails or calls that offer you the vaccine.”


MLCC SUSPENDS ANOTHER 8 LIQUOR LICENSES, INCLUDING ANDIAMO WARREN   

 

The state of Michigan has suspended the liquor licenses for eight more bars and restaurants in the state for violating the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services emergency order banning indoor dining.

Among the eight businesses is Andiamo Italia’s Warren restaurant. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission issued an emergency suspension of its Class C liquor license on Thursday, exactly one week after owners Joe and Rosalie Vicari hosted a Zoom meeting to discuss an initiative calling for a compromise with the state government to reopen indoor dining rooms, which have been ordered closed since Nov. 18.

The Dec. 3 virtual meeting came days after a letter from Joe Vicari to local restaurant owners leaked to the media. He called for them to “band together and fight back” as a group if the pause on indoor dining was extended. The Zoom call later that week set a softer tone and urged fellow restaurant owners not to defy the law.

The MLCC says the businesses have “multiple violations” of the MDHHS order including “allowing non-residential, in-person gatherings; providing in-person dining; failure to require face coverings for staff and patrons; and failure to prohibit patrons from congregating.”

 


 FIRST COVID-19 VACCINES ADMINISTERED IN MICHIGAN 

Two Michigan hospital systems administered the first COVID-19 vaccinations in the state on Monday, injecting the Michigan-produced Pfizer vaccine into front-line workers.

Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine and Spectrum Health’s Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids were the first to begin vaccinating workers in the state — the beginning of a massive inoculation rollout in Michigan expected to expand to other hospital systems in the coming days.

Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan health system, received a morning shipment of 1,950 doses, officials said. Spectrum expects to receive nearly 5,000 by the end of the week.   Spectrum and Michigan Medicine each vaccinated five health workers on Monday, and plan to ramp up vaccinations starting on Tuesday. Each vial of vaccine must be thawed and diluted to make five doses.

The shots also come as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday that the state has now tallied 437,985 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10,752 related deaths since the virus was first detected in March.

 


 MICHIGAN LISTS 188 NEW CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAKS


Michigan is tracking 1,268 active COVID-19 outbreaks, including 188 new clusters reported over the last week.

Long-term care facilities remain the most common setting for known outbreaks — due in-part to mandated regular testing — with 53 new outbreaks and 430 ongoing outbreaks, according to data released Monday, Dec. 14 from the Department of Health and Human Services.

K-12 schools and manufacturing and construction sites remain the second and third most common settings with 25 and 21 new outbreaks, respectively. Outbreaks linked to retail settings jumped significantly over the last week, from 40 known clusters to 80.

The state health department updates its online outbreak tracker weekly on Mondays, though its data is accurate as of the previous Thursday. This week’s update included 1,268 active outbreaks — down slightly from 1,291 outbreaks as of Dec. 7.

 


 DEADLINE FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS TO APPLY FOR FREE COLLEGE ENDS SOON


For frontline workers who want to land a better job and increase their wages, it’s last call.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to remind essential workers on Tuesday that the deadline is Dec. 31 to apply for Futures for Frontliners, the Michigan program offering free community college.

Workers who earn a degree or skills certificate could get on a path for one of the most in-demand careers and earn double or triple the state’s $9.65 minimum wage.

Over 100,000 people have applied since the program first was announced in September. Piggybacking off of the program, Eastern Michigan University and Henry Ford College also announced a partnership to pay for students to earn a four-year degree.

Futures for Frontliners is the nation’s first for people who went to work to provide essential services while most people were hunkered down at home at the beginning of the pandemic. It is modeled after the federal government’s support of soldiers returning from World War II by providing educational opportunities.

 



pfizer begins delivery of  covid-19 vaccine 

Three semi-trucks loaded with the nation’s first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine rolled out of the parking lot of the Pfizer manufacturing plant early Sunday morning, met with cheering crowds of local residents who said they were proud of their hometown’s contribution to science, and helping to bring the end to the coronavirus pandemic.

The caravan of FedEx, UPS and Boyle Transportation trucks — led and tailed by unmarked police cars — pulled out of the parking lot about 8:25 a.m., headed to airports and distribution centers on a historic journey.

Millions of doses of the company’s coronavirus vaccine were inside those trucks, and could be injected into the arms of the American people as early as Monday morning.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is about 95% effective, leapt the final hurdle Sunday and was approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for use in people ages 16 and older.

Pfizer has said it will deliver 6.4 million doses around the country in this initial shipment. Michigan’s share of that first delivery is 84,825 doses.

The shipment early Sunday morning from its plant in Portage involved 1.95 million doses of the vaccine.

Health care workers and emergency medical personnel will be the first in Michigan to receive the vaccine, as the biggest mass vaccination effort in the nation’s history takes an important step toward trying to stop the spread of a virus that so far has infected 16 million Americans and killed 300,000.

 


Oakland county installs freezers for  covid-19 vaccine 

In anticipation of receiving the first allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Oakland County Health Division on Friday installed 10 medical grade laboratory freezers capable of providing the extreme cold that the doses will require.

The freezers — which cost $400,000 and are being paid for with federal CARES Act funding —  can keep temperatures as low as -86 degrees Celsius. One of the vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer, requires that it be stored at -70 C.

Each freezer can hold 144,000 doses of the vaccine.

The freezers come as the Oakland County Health Division launched a public education campaign this week to emphasize how important it is to keep wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and stay home when sick until the vaccine is widely available.

Health care employees who work directly with COVID-19 patients will have top priority, along with nursing home residents who are most vulnerable to the virus.

 


OU offers wearable technology to help combat spread of covid-19 


Oakland University is blazing a new trail and offering students, faculty and staff a new piece of technology as an additional screening tool in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

Known as a BioButton, the coin-sized, wearable medical device is similar to a Fitbit, worn by fitness-minded folks to track their daily steps. But the BioButton is constantly tracking an individual’s vital signs, giving wearers an early alert when changes in their body suggest an infection such as COVID-19.

Launched by a startup company headed by a University of Michigan graduate, the device is being portrayed as a movie of someone’s health versus a snapshot in time measured by a test.

The BioButton, worn on an individual’s chest, is constantly monitoring a wearer’s  temperature, heart and respiratory rates. If the device detects changes in those vital signs suggesting a potential infection, it sends a red alert, giving the wearer information to potentially quarantine themselves, monitor their symptoms and perhaps get tested to avoid spreading any infection. The device, which lasts for up to 90 days, also is capable of contract tracing.

Oakland University is among the first universities in the nation to offer the device to its campus community in an effort to control outbreaks as a second wave of COVID-19 cases is gripping the country, including Michigan.

 


michigan slated to get 84,825 doses of vaccine once given final approval

Insulated boxes filled with vials of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and dry ice will be loaded onto FedEx and UPS trucks, and shipped “within hours” of being granted regulatory emergency approval in the U.S.

The company says it will initially distribute 6.4 million doses of its vaccine across the U.S. Many of those doses will come from the company’s Kalamazoo manufacturing plant and its Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, distribution center.

Michigan is earmarked to receive 84,825 doses — or 87 packages that each contain 975 doses — of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine if it’s granted emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the state health department.  Although an FDA committee voted 17-4 to recommend the agency should grant emergency authorization of the coronavirus vaccine created by Pfizer with its German partner BioNTech, its director, Stephen Hahn, told USA Today that it could be days before the FDA makes a final decision.


governor creates covid-19 vaccine commission 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday to create a bipartisan commission aimed at raising awareness about the soon-to-arrive COVID-19 vaccine.

The governor announced the new Protect Michigan Commission during a Thursday afternoon press briefing, nine months into the state’s fight against a virus that’s been linked to more than 10,000 deaths here. The panel’s chairs will include Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin, former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, a Republican, and health experts, like Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, whose research helped expose the Flint water crisis.

Under the new executive order, the vaccine commission will feature “at least 50 members appointed by the governor representing various sectors and communities within this state.” The commission will help elevate the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and assist in the distribution of educational materials about it.


 meadow brook hall cancels new holiday light display 

Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester on Thursday pulled the plug on a brand-new outdoor holiday light display after struggling to find a way to comply with the state’s current limits on outdoor gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials from the National Historic Landmark, the former home of auto heiress Matilda Dodge Wilson, said they’d been working closely with regional officials to  find a way to comply with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest restrictions but were “unable to reach a solution.”

In July, Meadow Brook unveiled its plans for Winter Wonder Lights, a brand-new outdoor winter holiday display to go along with its annual Holiday Walk, which draws thousands of visitors every year to tour the mansion that’s completely decorated for the holidays.

Meadow Brook officials said all purchased tickets for Winter Wonder Lights will be refunded and memberships bought in October, November or December of this year will have benefits extended through 2021.

Winter Wonder Lights will launch in 2021 instead, along with the Holiday Walk.


arts, beats & eats raises $431,000 for local musicians 

The alternative festival staged this year by Arts, Beats & Eats generated some much-needed income for metro Detroit musicians struggling amid the pandemic shutdown.

AB&E announced Thursday that more than $431,000 was raised for nearly 450 area artists, following a series of makeshift concerts and fundraising efforts in August and September, dubbed The Beats Go On.

Half of that total — about $216,000 — comes from a matching grant arranged by Oakland County via CARES Act funding.

Fest officials said about $83,000 was raised through donations to the Arts, Beats & Eats Musicians Fund, which included a public GoFundMe campaign. That included a $25,000 contribution from Eminem’s Marshall Mathers Foundation.

That money will go to 247 local artists and bands who have shown that more than 50% of their pre-pandemic income came from music work.


COVID-19 CASES MAY BE PLATEAUING AFTER SURGE 

Michigan’s top epidemiologist said Wednesday there’s reason for “cautious optimism” because of new data emerging about the spread of coronavirus in the state.

COVID-19 case rates are starting to dip; Michigan is now averaging about 516 cases per million people, down from 610 cases per million people last week, said Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health at the state health department.

And hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 symptoms and the rate of intensive-care unit admissions appears to be plateauing or declining, too, she said, even though the state overall is now seeing hospitalizations at about 90% of the spring peak.

The three metrics health officials watch most carefully to measure the state of the pandemic are the percentage of positive coroanvirus tests, the number of cases per million people, and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 over the last seven days, Lyon-Callo said.


HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS CAN DECLINE COVID-19 VACCINE, FOR NOW 

Millions of health care workers are slated to receive the first batch of potentially lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this month. But not all of them want to be first in line.

Only one-third of a panel of 13,000 nurses said they would voluntarily take a vaccine, another third said they wouldn’t and the rest said they were unsure, according to a late October survey by the American Nurses Association.

If nurses and other health care professionals continue to shy away from the shots, some hospitals and clinics say they’ll require employees to get vaccinated if they want to keep their jobs.

An advisory committee to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Dec. 1 that the nation’s 21 million health care workers and 3 million long-term care residents receive the first batch of shots — two per person, three weeks apart.


MENORAH IN THE D GOES VIRTUAL  

Detroit’s 10th annual Menorah in the D, a community Hanukkah celebration at Campus Martius, will go virtual this year. As the Jewish holiday begins at sundown Thursday, families and community members are encouraged to join the festivities on Zoom and light their menorahs as the 26-foot Detroit menorah is lit.

The event typically draws thousands, but this year, as a result of COVID-19 safety protocols, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, will lead an invite-only ceremony at Campus Martius.

 

At 5 p.m., guests can join a Zoom link on MenorahInTheD.com for greetings from community leaders and dignitaries, a 10-year recap and the torch ceremony. That will be followed by a 6 p.m. Zoom afterparty during which families watching from any location will be welcome to share their greetings.


Michigan cancels football game against Ohio State  

Michigan has been forced to cancel its long-standing rivalry game with Ohio State because of its concerning COVID-19 outbreak. This marks the first time since 1917 that The Game, considered one of the greatest rivalries in college football, will not be played.

This upcoming game against Ohio State, which had been in jeopardy after Michigan canceled its game last Saturday against Maryland, was canceled Tuesday. Michigan had returned to light practice Monday after pausing in-person football activities Nov. 30, giving some hope that The Game would be played at noon Saturday at Ohio Stadium

“The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. “We have not been cleared to participate in practice at this time.

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to field a team due to COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantining required of close contact individuals.


Michigan House cancels session after staffer tests positive for covid 

The Michigan House of Representatives will no longer meet in session this week after a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement Tuesday.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said the person who tested positive had nothing to do with the hearing last Wednesday where Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, testified. Chatfield did not identify the staff member, but said the person works with several lawmakers and committees and those who have been in contact with the staffer have already been informed and are currently isolating and getting tested.

The new announcement came the same day state health and labor officials confirmed they are investigating the House for a possible COVID-19 workplace violation.

The decision to cancel House session this week leaves lawmakers with three days of lame duck session next week.


Oakland County launches media campaign to address pandemic fatigue  

County Executive Dave Coulter said about $200,000 is being spent on the multimedia campaign called “The Only Way To Beat It Is To Face It.”

The campaign runs through the end of the month via public service announcements in print, television, radio and digital platforms, he said, and will be paid for with CARES Act money.

The campaign is to encourage residents to continue taking measures to limit transmission of the virus — such as wearing masks and social distancing — and to combat “pandemic fatigue.” Coulter said it will feature some familiar names, including former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty and Meryl Davis, an Olympic champion ice dancer.

Coulter said they are looking for new ways to get out the message to stop the spread of the virus, particularly as the holidays and winter approach and the availability of vaccines draw nearer.


governor extends covid-19 pause 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration extended on Monday the closure of some Michigan businesses, the halt on indoor dining at restaurants and the suspension of in-person instruction at high schools through Dec. 20 as COVID-19 surges on.

The Democratic governor announced the 12-day extension during a Monday afternoon press briefing, drawing criticism from Republican lawmakers and business groups that wanted the most intrusive of the current restrictions lifted. The initial three-week “Pause to Save Lives” order was originally set to end at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

The expiration date is now 11:59 p.m. Dec. 20, five days before Christmas. But Whitmer is already discouraging people from gathering for the holiday.

“Hope is on the horizon, but we need an additional 12 days to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Whitmer said.


michigan high school sports to remain on hold 

High school sports will remain on hold through at least Dec. 20, as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended a statewide partial shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partial shutdown was scheduled to expire Tuesday.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association was attempting to complete its fall sports with championships in football, volleyball and girls swimming by the end of the month.

The MHSAA said its Representative Council would meet Wednesday to decide its next course of action, adding that it still hopes to conclude the football, volleyball and girls swimming seasons with state championship events.  The MHSAA scheduled regional football games on Dec. 15-16 with state semifinals on Dec. 21-22 and title games on Dec. 28-29. Now the earliest regionals could be played is after Christmas with semifinal games pushed to January.


CATHOLIC SCHOOLS FILE LAWSUIT CHALLENGING covid-19 PAUSE EXTENSION 

Catholic families and schools in the Diocese of Lansing have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the order by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to keep high schools closed for an additional 12 days.

Two high schools within the Diocese of Lansing have joined the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools (MANS) in filling the suit against MDHHS Director Robert Gordon.

According to a press release, the lawsuit “claims that Gordon’s Dec. 7, 2020 order — an order extending his closure order from last month — closing religious high schools violates the First Amendment right to practice religion.” The lawsuit also calls for protection for all MANS-member schools to be able to legally reopen. The Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools represents over 400 schools across the state.


covid-19 brings most massive vaccination effort in a century 

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared last week that “hope is on the horizon” with two COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, the state’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said she knows there will be challenges in the enormous job of vaccinating Michigan’s 10 million people.

From prioritizing who should get vaccinated first to finding enough trained health care workers to both care for sick COVID-19 patients in Michigan’s hospitals and run vaccine clinics, Khaldun called it “the most massive vaccination effort in a century.

The first doses of the vaccines, which await regulatory review, could be ready to be injected into people’s arms before Christmas.  Health officials are still waiting to find out from the CDC how many doses Michigan will receive in the first allocation.


michigan’s “pause” set to expire, businesses worry it will be extended  

Michigan’s three-week “pause” that, among other things, closed indoor service at bars and restaurants expires on Tuesday, but business owners around the state express little hope that they’ll see the end of coronavirus health and safety restrictions next week.

So far, state officials won’t say whether Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, will lengthen restrictions that closed indoor dining, movie theaters, bowling alleys and non-tribal casinos, while also closing high schools, reducing retail capacity at stores and ending high school sports.

However, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is signaling that an extension of Michigan’s latest coronavirus health orders is possible as the deadly pandemic once again escalates across the state.

Michigan is on pace to pass 3,000 deaths in December, a number that would rival the 3,500 who died in April. Recent data show nearly 16 percent of Michigan residents examined for the virus test positive, the highest rate since April and an indication of rapid community spread. The number of cases this month so far is 67 for every 100,000 people. A month earlier, it was 31.

Legislative Republicans are urging Whitmer to not extend the three-week restaurant dining room shutdown, which is to expire Tuesday.


skiing during the covid crisis  

As the days become cold and crisp, snow sports enthusiasts are getting ready for a different kind of season.

The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association unveiled a new set of COVID-19 protocols for ski resorts and riders.

Some ski areas are going to contactless lift ticket sales, others are bringing in food trucks for outdoor dining, changing the rental department around to aid in social distancing and limiting class sizes for ski and snowboard lessons. According to a news release, one consistent rule across Michigan ski resorts will be the requirement of wearing a face mask, which is usually part of a skier’s uniform anyway.

The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association represents resorts like Alpine Valley, Pine Knob, Mt. Holly and a few others.


Oakland County reveals $10 million plan to help restaurants 

Oakland County officials announced a $10 million program to support restaurants struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aid categories will include general operational assistance, help to adapt facilities for outside service, and assistance to reopen safely, Oakland County Executive David Coulter said.

If approved by the county board on Monday, checks might go out to about 1,000 bars and restaurants that have already applied and been approved for pandemic relief help.

The program — involving $7 million in federal Oakland County CARES Act allocation and $3 million from the county’s general fund — comes as negotiations in Congress for federal relief to individuals, businesses and state and local governments have stalled, and as a state order banning dine-in eating at restaurants remains in effect at least through Dec. 8.

 


state health leader grilled by lawmakers over shutdown orders

Michigan’s pandemic orders are grinding down weary residents, a reality that must be more heavily factored into decisions about continued shutdowns, state Republican legislators argued Thursday.

Robert Gordon, the state’s top health official and the recipient of GOP complaints, acknowledged the widespread pain and anxiety caused by the coronavirus and the state’s aggressive restrictions to stop it. But in morning testimony in Lansing, Gordon argued that the key to returning students to classrooms, opening up more businesses and restoring the economy is controlling “the deadly disease that is rampant in our state.”

Issuing statewide restrictions isn’t easy, he said; decisions are based on “multiple factors” such as case trends, positivity rates, hospital capacity, conversations with hospital leadership, measures of mobility and trends in other states.

Gordon declined to say whether the state will extend or change the order, but he made clear that virus concerns remain high.

 


michigan national guard to help with covid response thru march  

The Trump administration has approved the continued use of the Michigan National Guard through March to help with the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including vaccine distribution.

The federal cost-sharing of Guard expenses under Title 32 authority, which allows Guard members to receive federal pay and benefits, had been set to expire Dec. 31.

The Michigan National Guard has aided the state in performing testing for COVID-19; distributing personal protective equipment; food and medical supplies; disinfecting public spaces; and supporting public safety when needed.

Whitmer’s office also anticipates the Guard will help provide logistical support and transportation support to help distribute COVID vaccines when they become available.

 


michigan restaurants lose court battle 

Michigan’s restaurant dining rooms must remain closed until at least Dec. 9, as a federal judge has denied a motion that would have nullified the state’s COVID-19 order that temporarily prohibits in-person dining.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and two restaurant groups sued the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shortly after the three-week ban began in mid-November.

The MRLA claimed restaurants are being treated unfairly since other types of industries can remain open. The judge disagreed, saying there’s a notable reason for why restaurants should be treated differently due to restaurant patrons cannot wear a mask while eating or drinking.

While the ruling is a blow to the plaintiffs, the case isn’t finished yet. The judge determined Michigan’s order likely doesn’t violate federal law, but he declined to rule on if the order infringes on the Michigan Constitution.

 


um football game canceled due to covid outbreak

Michigan’s football team will not play this weekend, as a surge in COVID-19 cases has forced the program to cancel its game against Maryland.

The program made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, saying it has paused all team activities and cannot practice until Monday, Dec. 7, “at the earliest” due to positive tests and contact tracing requirements.

Big Ten Conference protocols during the pandemic released in September stipulate that a team must stop practicing and game competition for a minimum of seven days if COVID-19 test positivity rates exceed 5 percent of the team and 7.5 percent of the population.

Additionally, any player who tests positive must sit out game competition for a minimum of 21 days, potentially jeopardizing Michigan’s game next weekend, Dec. 12, at Ohio State. The game was scheduled to take place Saturday in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines’ fourth and final home game of what has been a shortened and disappointing season.

 


stay home for the holidays or get tested twice

Health officials on Wednesday urged Americans to stay home over the upcoming holiday season and consider getting tested for coronavirus before and after if they do decide to travel.

That’s the same advice they had over Thanksgiving but many Americans traveled anyway. With COVID-19 cases and deaths continuing to rise, the CDC added the testing option.

The CDC says even if few people became infected while traveling over Thanksgiving, that could still result in hundreds of thousands of new infections.

During a news briefing, the CDC said travelers should consider getting COVID-19 tests one to three days before their trips and again three to five days afterward. They also recommended reducing non-essential activities for a full week after travel or for 10 days if not tested afterward.

 


michigan expecting uptick in covid cases due to thanksgiving travel 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned that cases in Michigan could rise over the next couple of weeks because “too many people traveled for Thanksgiving.”

Those cases will take two to three weeks to show up in state data and are expected to increase state numbers ahead of the Christmas holiday, the governor said during a press conference Tuesday.

The state reported 190 deaths related to the virus Tuesday, 30 of which were identified through delayed record reviews. With the 30 delayed reports, Tuesday’s tally is the largest since the previous record of 164 on April 16, when none of the deaths reported included those identified through delayed record reviews.

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun cautioned people who had traveled to stay away from others for 14 days upon return and stay in contact with those they visited.

 


michigan facing crossroads as three-week pause nears end 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is approaching another decisive moment in its fight against COVID-19 as a three-week halt on some businesses, in-person instruction at high schools and indoor dining at restaurants is scheduled to lift Dec. 9, a week from Wednesday.

Amid fears of economic fallout, many business owners oppose an extension to the so-called “pause to save lives” that’s closed bars, movie theaters and bowling alleys. But strong concerns continue about hospitals’ ability to cope with an ongoing surge in coronavirus infections as some in Michigan remain near capacity.

On Tuesday, the governor said it was too early to announce whether the state’s three-week pause would be extended. Whitmer said it was likely the effect of the pause would be clearer early next week.

Any announcement about whether to continue the pause will be made before Dec. 8 to ensure businesses, high schools, colleges and Michigan residents have time to comply.

 


border restrictions to remain in place until covid is under control 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the ban on nonessential travel with the United States will not be lifted until COVID-19 is significantly more under control around the world.

Canada and the U.S. have limited border crossings since March, extending the restrictions each month

About 400,000 people crossed the world’s longest international border each day before the pandemic.  Essential cross-border workers like healthcare professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. Truck drivers are critical as they move food and medical goods in both directions.   About 75% of Canada’s exports go to the U.S. which has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world.

 


 MOONBEAMS FOR SWEET DREAMS GOING VIRTUAL  

Beaumont Hospital has held Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams every December since 2017 — this year the event will be different due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event was started to help fight the feeling of isolation children felt while stuck inside a hospital during the holidays. They gave the patients flashlights to wave out their windows for five minutes each night — hoping that community members would come with flashlights and wave back. The community came out in force.

The hospital said it’s not safe for people to gather outside the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak this year — so instead they’re turning the fourth annual Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams event into a virtual experience. It runs from Dec. 1 through Dec. 31.

Community members are asked to upload videos and photos to the Beaumont website. You will be asked to add a brief description and then your submission can be added to a gallery and available to share on the hospital’s social media. Beaumont will compile the videos and photos to create a video that will be shared with pediatric patients via social media.

 

 


 $10 MILLION GRANT PROGRAM TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES IN MICHIGAN  

State officials on Monday announced a new $10 million grant program to help them, with the funding targeting “small businesses that continue to be disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of the pandemic,” said Mark Burton, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative was approved Monday afternoon by the Michigan Strategic Fund.

The move will assist 700 or more small leisure and hospitality businesses or recreational facilities in Michigan affected by longer-term closures and lower capacity limitations during the pandemic and by the recent set of restrictions issued by Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The plan calls for $10 million in grants of up to $15,000 to be distributed to businesses in the troubled sectors with 2 to 50 employees and revenue of at least $25,000. Another $1 million will be allowed for administrative fees. Funding is coming through Community Development Block Grants provided to Michigan from the federal CARES Act, and it represents some of the state’s last dollars available through that $2 trillion nationwide plan.

Work on the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative starts this week. Applications for a grant administrator will begin immediately, and businesses should be able to ask for consideration by Dec. 15.

 


FEDS PREPARE FOR COVID-19 SCAMS AS VACCINE APPROACHES APPROVAL

The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say.

Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phony personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes.

Homeland Security Investigations started using its 7,000 agents in tandem with border, FDA and FBI officials to investigate scams, seize phony products and arrest hundreds of people.   The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected as being involved in some type of COVID-19 fraud. Millions of fake or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antiviral pharmaceuticals were seized. Homeland Security Investigations made more than 1,600 seizures of products worth more than $27 million and made more than 185 arrests.

 


governor pushing for $100 million state stimulus package  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a state-based stimulus plan of up to $100 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s ravaged Michigan’s economy.

The issue could become a focus of negotiation during the lame-duck session — the period between the election and the end of the year when unresolved bills officially die and term-limited legislators depart

Whitmer is seeking up to $100 million that “will provide direct financial support to the families and small businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic,” according to her letter dated Wednesday.

The Michigan House and Senate have nine session days scheduled for the month of December, beginning Tuesday. The final scheduled session day is currently Dec. 17.

 


oakland county relocates covid-19 testing sites 

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing locations in Oakland County are being relocated as colder weather sets in, while Wayne County has added testing sites.

In Oakland County, tests will be available on Mondays at the Old Holly fire station, Tuesdays at the Rochester fire station, Wednesdays at the Southfield City Hall employee parking deck and Thursdays at the Pontiac fire station.

The new testing locations will be open by appointment only and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tests are available for anyone age 4 years and older. Youth 17 and younger must exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and be a resident of Oakland County or attend school in the county.

There is no charge for the tests and no prescription is needed.

 


 detroit making plans on how to administer covid vaccine  

Mayor Mike Duggan told a national television audience Detroit is doing a better job fighting the novel coronavirus than its suburban neighbors and estimated it will take several months to vaccinate all Detroiters.

The mayor said America has never faced a challenge like administering vaccines to so many people. He said it would likely take several months to vaccinate Detroit’s approximately 700,000 residents.

The city established and operated a drive-through coronavirus testing site that tested more than a thousand Detroiters a day. Duggan said he hopes to establish multiple testing sites set up in large parking areas surrounding the city’s arenas.

“We intend to vaccinate 5,000 a day,” he said. “The magnitude of what we’re talking about, this county has never experienced.”

Duggan said frontline workers will likely be the first to receive the vaccine.

 

 

 


 cdc may reduce recommended quarantine period 

In an effort to encourage compliance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may reduce the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to the coronavirus from 14 days to somewhere between seven and 10,the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The newspaper said agency officials are putting the final touches on the recommendation, which would require a negative COVID test for the exposed person to exit quarantine

Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for COVID-19 response, told the Journal that studies have shown effective quarantines can be done in less time than the currently recommended two weeks. Although there’s a chance some infections could be missed, he said there’s a valuable tradeoff to be gained.

“Hopefully people would be better able to adhere to quarantine if it was, for example, seven to 10 days,” he said.

 


 ford aims to offer covid-19 vaccine to employees 

In an attempt to keep the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic from again disrupting its operations, Ford Motor Co. has ordered a dozen ultra-cold freezers to store vaccines globally when they become available, the company confirmed Tuesday.

 

At this point, the company is looking to offer the vaccine to employees only. In the matters of COVID-19 protocol overall, Ford has been proactive about offering guidance and support to families of employees, however the company hasn’t yet decided if factory workers will be offered incentives to take the vaccine.

 

Ford has billions of dollars at stake with the upcoming 2021 F-150, Bronco and all-electric Mustang Mach-E and factory operations in North America.

 

 


state claims indoor dining among highest risk for spreading covid-19 

Reopening restaurants for in-person dining would “likely increase the spread of COVID-19” in Michigan, the state said in response to a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the dine-in ban.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and a pair of restaurant businesses sued Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon last week for his order to prohibit in-person dining at restaurants and bars due to COVID-19 spread.  Plaintiffs argue the industry is being unfairly targeted and data doesn’t support the restrictions.  In court filings, the state argues otherwise, citing studies including one that shows indoor spaces can be nearly 20 times more likely for COVID transmission to open spaces.

 

A U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the state in round one – not allowing for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed restaurants to reopen inside immediately.  But the case isn’t over, as a Zoom hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 to discuss the remaining motions to halt the dine-in ban. The ban ends Dec. 8, but industry leaders expect an extension.

 

 

 


 governor reminds michiganders of safety protocols for thanksgiving  

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are reminding Michiganders of the COVID-19 safety guidance set for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Gov. Whitmer released a video Tuesday encouraging Michiganders to wear a mask, practice safe physical distancing, wash hand frequently and follow the new MDHHS’ epidemic order.

The MDHHS also issued new guidance for vulnerable populations this Thanksgiving.   

“While we are advising everyone to avoid Thanksgiving gatherings beyond their own households, it’s especially critical that residents of nursing homes and other group homes remain in their homes during the holiday,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “If these individuals contract COVID while traveling, they run the risk of bringing it back to others who are especially vulnerable to illness and death. This year, please celebrate Thanksgiving by Zoom or by phone, and next year’s Thanksgiving will be better.”

 

 


holiday extravaganza cancelled this year

The annual Holiday Extravaganza parade has officially been cancelled this season.

The event’s organizers announced the cancellation this weekend citing the recent state gathering restrictions due to the coronavirus.

“Out of an abundance of caution and consideration of the health of our community, we are saddened to be canceling our annual event,” Tom Kimble, chairman of the event, said.

It would have been the parade and winter festival’s 39th season. A drive-thru parade was planned to take place on Dec. 5 at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac to increase social distancing.   The Greater Pontiac Host Committee started the parade back in 1981, which included one fire truck and one high school marching band.

The Holiday Extravaganza will return for its 40th season on Dec. 4, 2021.

 

 


michigan adds 11,511 new covid-19 cases 

Michigan on Monday added 11,511 cases and 65 more deaths from COVID-19, including numbers from Sunday.

The latest additions bring the state’s total of confirmed cases to 314,216 and deaths to 8,543 since the virus was first detected in Michigan in March, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Michigan finished last week with a record of 50,892 cases, the sixth consecutive record week for confirmed infections, surpassing last week’s total of 44,019 new cases.

Michigan’s new cases have been doubling every two- to two-and-a-half weeks.

The state department added new tracking Wednesday indicating that wastewater surveillance is being conducted in 37 counties throughout Michigan, in both the upper and lower peninsulas. There are approximately 270 testing sites, which include wastewater treatment plants and congregate facilities, such as jails, long-term care facilities, K-12 schools, universities, child care facilities and group homes.

The virus can be detected in wastewater for up to seven days.

 


cdc upgrades cruise ship covid infection risk to highest level 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upgraded the cruise ship travel risk to a level 4, the federal agency’s highest risk level possible for contracting COVID-19.

Amid reports of widespread outbreaks in cruises earlier this year, CDC recommends for travelers to avoid cruise ships, including river cruises, around the world, given the “very high” risk of becoming infected or spreading the novel coronavirus.

If passengers decide to go on cruises, they should get tested three to five days after the trip. Even if they test negative after a trip, cruise ship travelers should stay home for seven days after the trip.

The advisory comes nearly a month after the CDC lifted its cruise ban, following heavy lobbying from the industry group Cruise Lines International Association to let ships sail again. The Oct. 30 sail order, however, lists conditions to allow cruise ships to resume their operations, including testing requirements and written agreements with medical facilities on land.

 

 


contact tracers losing control to contain spread of the virus

Michigan’s public health system is becoming overwhelmed as COVID-19 case rates continue to surge, outpacing efforts to contain the pandemic by finding and sequestering sick people before they spread the virus.

The state has increased staffing and contact tracers are investigating more cases than ever.  The state employs nearly 400 tracers, plus 750 active volunteers.  That’s on top of hundreds of local public health workers who have shifted from their normal, pre-pandemic jobs.

But contact tracing only works if infection rates are fairly low.  Once a population begins to experience community spread, tracing becomes a far less effective tool.  The state is now promoting the use of the MI COVID ALERT app, that notifies users when a close has tested positive.

 


many americans flying for the holiday despite cdc warning 

Millions of Americans bought tickets to fly somewhere for Thanksgiving before the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with them not to travel for the holiday.

So what are they doing now? In many cases, they’re still crowding airports and boarding planes. That’s despite relatively lenient cancellation policies that major airlines have implemented since the coronavirus pandemic emerged earlier this year.

More than 2 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday and Saturday, according to the Transportation Security Administration. While that’s far lower than during the same time last year, Friday was only the second time since mid-March that daily airport screenings topped 1 million.

 

 


women bear the brunt of pandemic recession 

After decades of strides in employment, women are making a staggering exit from the workforce due to the pandemic. Experts say the shift may lead to challenges for women finding work and they may face lower wages in the future.

Across the country, more than 800,000 women left the workforce in September, compared with  216,000 men. Last month, the unemployment rate for women dropped, but there are still nearly 2.2 million fewer women in the workforce than in February.

In Michigan, labor force participation among women fell nearly 6%, compared with a drop of less than 1% among men, according to unpublished data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  One factor playing into women leaving the workforce is child care. About 76% of mothers with children under age 10 said child care is one of their top three challenges during the pandemic.

 

 


cdc warns americans not to travel for thanksgiving 

With the coronavirus surging out of control, the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with Americans on Thursday not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people from outside their household.

It was some of the firmest guidance yet from the government on curtailing traditional gatherings to fight the outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the recommendations just one week before Thanksgiving, at a time when diagnosed infections, hospitalizations and deaths are skyrocketing across the country. In many areas, the health care system is being squeezed by a combination of sick patients filling up beds and medical workers falling ill themselves.

If families do decide to include returning college students, military members or others for turkey and stuffing, the CDC is recommending that the hosts take added precautions: Gatherings should be outdoors if possible, with people keeping 6 feet apart and wearing masks and just one person serving the food.

 

 


live thanksgiving day parade to be replaced with virtual event

Detroit’s top public health official has scuttled plans for a live performance in downtown next week for the city’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

Denise Fair, chief public health officer for the Detroit Health Department, determined that organizers’ plans to have roughly 800 participants and 22 floats in downtown for a live parade would violate Michigan’s recent public health restrictions on outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people, according to a city spokesman.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the new restrictions Sunday to address the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the state.

Those now-canceled plans called for the parade to be broadcast live on Woodward near the old Hudson’s department store site and security guards were to keep all gawkers away.

Instead, there will be a “virtual” parade for TV viewers to enjoy Thanksgiving morning.

 

 


popular outdoor ice skating rink to close during shutdown  

The outdoor ice skating rink at Campus Martius Park in Downtown Detroit will close for at least three weeks due to new coronavirus restrictions ordered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations climb throughout the state, the MDHHS enacted a “three-week pause” that ramps up restrictions for restaurants, bars, high schools, colleges and more. 

From Nov. 18 through Dec. 8, Michigan restaurants and bars cannot offer indoor dining services. High schools and colleges must switch to virtual instruction only. Casinos, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas through Michigan must also remain closed.

Officials said an update to the order on Thursday extended restrictions to include both indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks.

The Rink at Campus Martius Park is slated to reopen on Dec. 9, officials said Thursday.

 

 


kelly stafford apologizes for dictatorship rant  

Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford, apologized Thursday for calling Michigan a “dictatorship” during a social media rant inspired by the state’s new  COVID-19 restrictions.

Her comments came on the second day of Michigan’s three-week Covid-19 pause,  which banned indoor dining at restaurants, shut down in-person classes for college and high school students and, perhaps most relevant for the Stafford family, banned all attendance for sporting events.

Kelly Stafford return to Instagram Thursday afternoon and apologized both on video through her story and with a post saying  in part, “I should have never used the word ‘dictatorship.’ I got caught up in the heat of the moment, that is my fault. “

 

 


MICHIGAN HAS THE 6TH HIGHEST NUMBER OF COVID-19 CASES IN THE NATION 

The spread of the coronavirus is rampant in Michigan right now, and “cases and deaths are rising at all age groups and among all racial and ethnic groups,” the state’s top epidemiologist said during  a news conference Wednesday, detailing where the state stands in the pandemic.

Michigan now ranks sixth nationally in coronavirus cases and fifth for the number of COVID-19-related deaths, said Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, citing data from the last seven days.

With so many people contracting the virus, Michigan’s contact tracing system is “becoming overwhelmed” said Lyon-Callo, who urged people to download the new free and anonymous MI COVID Alert app to get notifications of close contacts who’ve tested positive for the virus. More than 280,000 people have already signed up.

 

 


MICHIGAN PLANS UNANNOUNCED COVID-19 COMPLIANCE CHECKS AT BUSINESSES  

A new partnership is helping Michigan send more of its “ambassadors” across the state to do unannounced drop-in visits at businesses to help with pandemic protocols.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a partnership on Wednesday, Nov. 18 with Ann Arbor-based NSF International, a nonprofit that helps develop public health standards and certification programs.

MIOSHA plans to do 2,300 Tier 1 visits by the end of 2020 and 7,000 by mid-2021. The program targets public-facing businesses like gyms, stores and restaurants.

The visits last about 20 minutes with the ambassador doing a short assessment, offering tips and leaving a toolkit of materials behind.

Ambassadors are there for educational purposes and can’t fine or cite businesses

These visits don’t make businesses immune from future citations, however, if a complaint comes in.  So far, 35 businesses have been fined in Michigan for not following COVID-19 protocols.

 

 


SOME TRIBAL CASINOS TO REMAIN OPEN DURING THE PARTIAL SHUTDOWN  

Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant and Saganing Eagles Landing Casino and Hotel in Standish plan to remain open during the three-week partial shutdown ordered by the state health department, citing a “track record of success” with COVID-19 safety protocols.

Soaring Eagle and Saganing Eagles Landing are not subject to the state’s order because they are owned by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and the order does not pertain to tribal casinos, MDHHS confirmed.

Officials announced the decision to remain open via the casinos’ respective Facebook pages this week. The announcement read, in part:

“Today, we have a track record of success. Our experience with Coronavirus transmission has been that the safety protocols are effective, particularly the requirement that all team members and guests wear masks. Contact tracing indicates that Coronavirus transmission typically occurs outside of the casino environment where masks may not have been worn and other protocols may not have been followed.

 


restaurant group sues to stop new covid restrictions 

A restaurant industry group filed suit Tuesday in an attempt to stop Michigan from implementing new pandemic restrictions that would force restaurants and bars to shut down indoor dining for three weeks beginning Wednesday.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) and two hospitality businesses are suing the state over this week’s orders that will restrict restaurants and bars to outdoor dining, takeout and delivery amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases.

MRLA President and CEO Justin Winslow said in a statement Tuesday that the lawsuit was filed to prevent the “… outright devastation of restaurant operators and their hundreds of thousands of employees across the state.”

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids against Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon who — along with with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — announced a series of new restrictions Sunday night as coronavirus cases continue to hit record numbers in the state. The public health order takes effect Wednesday.

The lawsuit seeks an emergency preliminary injunction allowing Michigan restaurants and bars to continue with indoor dining while following appropriate health and safety protocols.

 


gop leader says michigan doesn’t need covid mandates 

Michigan’s new COVID-19 restrictions will unfairly punish compliant businesses and appear “misdirected,” but so does a conservative push to impeach Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said Tuesday.

In a wide-ranging interview, the Clarklake Republican blasted a new epidemic order that, beginning Wednesday, will close Michigan restaurant and bar dining rooms, high school and college classrooms, movie theaters and bowling alleys for at least three weeks.

Shirkey said the GOP is not planning any immediate legislative action to fight COVID. But he called the new restrictions an attack on the “little guy,” noting that many businesses that will be closed had developed “terrific protocols” to protect customers and staff.

A handful of Republican lawmakers, however, responded to Sunday’s announcement by renewing their calls for GOP leaders to begin impeachment hearings for Whitmer, a rare step they contend is warranted because the governor has “ignored court orders” and the Legislature.

Shirkey does not support an impeachment inquiry, saying it’s a distraction from what legislatures should be working on now.

 


  volunteers still needed for covid-19 vaccine studies   

Two COVID-19 vaccines might be nearing the finish line, but scientists caution it’s critical that enough people volunteer to help finish studying other candidates in the U.S. and around the world.

Moderna Inc. and competitor Pfizer Inc. recently announced preliminary results showing their vaccines appear more than 90% effective, at least for short-term protection against COVID-19.

But multiple vaccines will be needed to meet global demand and help end the pandemic, raising concern that studies that still need to sign up thousands of volunteers could run short if people wait for an already OK’d option instead.


 63 new covid-19 outbreaks reported at michigan schools  

Michigan reported 63 new outbreaks of COVID-19 at the state’s pre-K-12 schools and higher-education institutions Monday.

The highest number of cases reported at one school was nine involving students and staff at Johannesburg-Lewiston Elementary, east of Gaylord in northern lower Michigan.

Most of the outbreaks involved small numbers of cases, but the overall number is up from 50 from last week.

The data come from COVID-19 outbreaks reported by local health departments each week to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as of the previous Thursday. An outbreak is defined as two or more COVID-19 cases among people who are from different households but may have shared exposure

n addition to the new school outbreaks, there are more than 180 ongoing outbreaks, with the largest, 1,882 off campus at Michigan State University.

 


 michigan surpasses 6,000 covid-19 deaths  

Michigan added 12,763 more coronavirus cases and 55 deaths Monday, including cases from Sunday, as infections surge across the nation.

The additions average 6,381 cases each day, state officials said.

The new additions bring the state’s total of confirmed cases to 264,576 since the virus was first detected in Michigan in March, according to tracking by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The death toll stands at 8,049 but rises to 8,431 when probable deaths are counted.

Michigan shattered its weekly coronavirus case record last week with a total of 44,019 new cases reported, the fifth consecutive record week for confirmed infections.

Unlike the spring surge, which was concentrated in southeast Michigan, this escalation is spread across the state. Nearly 11% of COVID tests run in the state are coming back positive. A positivity rate above 3% is concerning to public health officials.


grocery stores see a rush following announcement of new restrictions  

Grocery stores and warehouse clubs are busy places once again with a record numbers of  COVID-19 cases in the state and more restrictions announced on Sunday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

People are heading to stores to stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, and if you can find any, disinfectant wipes.

The heightened shopping as the pandemic worsens heading into winter has grocery stores and warehouse stores paying attention.

Last week, Kroger of Michigan temporarily set limits of two per customer on certain products including toilet paper, power towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap, according to a Kroger spokeswoman. The limits include in-store and online purchases.


governor announces new restrictions due to rise in covid cases  

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced wide-ranging new restrictions limiting gatherings at high schools, colleges and restaurants Sunday night to combat what she described as the “worst moment” yet in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new policies will temporarily halt in-person instruction at high schools and colleges, indoor dine-in service at restaurants and bars, and high school athletics as well as close some businesses, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and casinos.

The restrictions, imposed through a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order, will take effect Wednesday and be in place until they end on Dec. 8. Under the order, indoor residential gatherings will be limited to two households at any one time.


new restrictions put high school sports on hold 

 


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has halted the high school fall sports season for at least three weeks, as part of wide-ranging new restrictions announced Sunday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fall tournaments involving girls swimming and diving, volleyball and football have been suspended until at least Dec. 8, “effective immediately,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Volleyball and swimming and diving are in the final week of their postseason, while football has three weeks remaining.  The state semifinals were scheduled for Nov. 27-28, and state title games Dec. 4-5 at Ford Field.

 


covid cases soar creating testing backlog  

Michiganders trying to get tested for COVID before seeing loved ones at Thanksgiving might find that a collective rush on testing labs will make that impossible.  And if you are lucky enough to get tested, well, expect to wait for your results.  Michigan doesn’t track turnaround times, but it appears that roughly two weeks before the holiday and it’s already taking up to five days for test results.  Testing demand has soared as the number of coronavirus cases in the state spiked and the percentage of tests coming back positive has risen to roughly 14 percent.

In the past week the state has seen an average of nearly 53,000 daily tests, up from about 35,000 five weeks ago, a 50 percent increase.


HOSPITAL LEADERS WARN OF ALARMING RISE OF COVID-19 CASES  

Hospitalizations from the COVID-19 are doubling every two weeks in Michigan, leaders from five health systems announced Thursday, and case numbers are growing “exponentially” at a rate of about 40% per week.

“At that pace, we will top our late spring hospitalization peak this month,” said Gerry Anderson, executive chairman of DTE Energy and a leader of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council, who joined the CEOs of five health systems — Beaumont Health, Henry Ford Health System, Spectrum Health, Munson Healthcare, UP Health System — Thursday morning to alert the public of a growing crisis.

If hospitals in Michigan become overwhelmed again with critically ill COVID-19 patients, and don’t have the staffing to care for all the people who need it, the hospital leaders said they may have no other choice but to stop offering some nonemergency medical care.


GOVERNOR URGES FAMILIES TO CHANGE HOLIDAY PLANS  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun urged Michigan residents Thursday to rein in their plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas amid exponential growth in COVID-19 cases in Michigan.

Without decisive action on the part of each Michigan resident, the state “could be hitting our daily peak of deaths in Michigan come Christmas,” Whitmer said.

Khaldun echoed those grim concerns and urged people to cancel plans with family outside their immediate household.

Whitmer said she and her administrative team are “strongly considering all actions we can take to keep Michiganders safe,” adding  there “ongoing discussions about the next actions.”


as outbreaks continue to rise, state warns businesses of fines 

 

Of the 747 new or ongoing outbreaks in Michigan, 39 are from offices. Only long-term living facilities, schools, manufacturing spaces and restaurants/bars have more.

The Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration is inspecting offices to make sure they’re following the emergency rules put in place.  If precautions aren’t followed, offices can be cited and fined up to $7,000.

Such fines are not new. So far, 35 businesses have been fined by MIOSHA for not following proper protocols. Employees who can work from home are required to keep doing so.

 

 


ticketmaster plans to require vaccine or negative test to purchase tickets 

 

In preparation for a COVID-19 vaccine, Ticketmaster is working on a plan to safely allow people to return to concerts in 2021 by verifying if they tested negative for COVID-19 or have been vaccinated.

While the plan is still in the development phase, the company told Billboard customers will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result approximately 24 to 72 hours, depending on local government requirements, before a concert. Customers would then authorize vaccine distribution providers to send their results to a health pass company, like CLEAR.

If the test result is negative, the lab will notify Ticketmaster, who then will grant the customer access to their tickets. If they test positive or haven’t shown proof of vaccination, they won’t be allowed to attend the event.

 


county officials prepare for vaccine  

Metro Detroit county health departments are among those in Michigan readying how to store COVID-19 vaccines once they become available.

Oakland County is ordering 10 refrigerator storage units, at $13,592 each, using federal CARES Act funds.

The refrigerators are capable of storing vaccine at ultra-cold temperatures necessary to preserve the two-dose vaccines, which the Pfizer pharmaceutical company says need to be kept at minus-112 Fahrenheit. Pfizer has designed temperature-controlled thermal shippers that use dry ice to maintain recommended storage conditions for up to 10 days.   On Monday, the pharmaceutical company said initial testing showed its vaccine might be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Pfizer expects to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses by the end of this year and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Under federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the vaccine will first be distributed to front-line health care workers, then to other essential workers and vulnerable populations, such as people in nursing homes. Healthier people would have to wait longer.

 


hospital system nearing capacity as covid cases surge  

The coronavirus is raging in western Michigan, the CEO of Spectrum Health said Wednesday, announcing its hospitals are nearing capacity as the number of people hospitalized with the virus has tripled in the last 20 days, affecting all age groups.

Spectrum, which operates 14 hospitals in southwest and western Michigan and employs 31,000 people, announced Wednesday it is canceling nonemergency inpatient medical procedures, moving to virtual health care visits as much as possible and limiting visitors to its hospitals. It also is expanding its intensive care unit capacity and adding beds.

Because of a shortage of coronavirus testing supplies, Spectrum Health also is limiting who can get a coronavirus test, prioritizing people who have symptoms.

 


MICHIGAN SETS NEW DAILY RECORDS FOR CORONAVIRUS 

Michigan’s autumn COVID-19 surge continues to worsen, with the state setting another daily case record Tuesday with 6,473 new infections and 84 deaths.

The additions bring the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 223,277 and total confirmed deaths to 7,724, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday’s numbers broke a Saturday record of 6,225 cases and 65 deaths and marked the third case record set in a week.

Local health departments are investigating 590 outbreaks across the state, the largest since the beginning of the pandemic. They’re occurring in long-term care, schools, manufacturing, constructions, health care and social gatherings.


GOVERNOR EXPLORING NEXT STEPS IF COVID CASE RATE WORSENS  

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday she is investigating the “next steps” her administration will take to combat a weeks-long surge in coronavirus cases.

The governor said she’s “having ongoing regular conversations” with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials about how to handle the “very serious” increase in cases.

Deaths have not yet reached the devastating early rates of spring, but health officials fear they could worsen as the state continues the “second wave” of viral spread that epidemiologists have been warning about since early in the year.

The first stay-at-home order ended at the beginning of June. Since then, most businesses have been allowed to reopen with safety precautions.

In early October, the state Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the 1945 law that Whitmer used to issue the previous stay-at-home order.


WHITMER REQUEST TO EXTEND NATIONAL GUARD ASSISTANCE DURING PANDEMIC 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to utilize the Michigan National Guard to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, and she’s penned a letter to President Donald Trump requesting an extension to do so.

Whitmer submitted the letter to Trump Tuesday, requesting an extension of Title 32 authority in order to use Michigan National Guard forces through March 31, 2021 for COVID-19 response and vaccine related activities. Title 32 status, which provides for federal pay and benefits, is currently authorized by the President through Dec. 31, 2020.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michigan National Guard members have helped distribute more than 14 million pounds of food at food banks, delivered tests and protective equipment across the state, and assisted with testing more than 200 thousand Michiganders for COVID-19, according to state officials.


outbreak prompts closing of troy fire department

Positive tests for COVID-19 among public safety workers prompted closures of facilities in Macomb and Oakland counties on Monday, officials said.

Most recently, positive tests among some of Troy’s firefighters prompted the closure of one of the city’s six fire stations, officials said Monday.

Fire Chief Dave Roberts stressed the closure of  the station should not impact service to either residents or businesses and said any calls would be handled by other fire stations. About 30 firefighters at the closed fire hall are under quarantine.

Roberts said no personnel from the other five stations have been affected.


beaumont reinstates visitor restrictions 

Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe are limiting the visitation starting Tuesday as COVID-19 cases rise in Michigan.

The restrictions will take effect at 8 a.m. to protect patients and staff, officials said.

Among the restrictions, no one will be allowed in the rooms of patients with pending or positive COVID-19 tests except for patients who are approaching the end-of-life, patients under 21 years of age, women in labor or other extreme circumstances where the benefits of presence outweigh the risk of COVID-19 exposure. All exceptions must be approved by clinical leaders.

As of Sunday, Beaumont is treating 30 COVID-19 patients at its Farmington hospital, 22 in Grosse Pointe and 100 in Royal Oak.

 


michigan rolls out new app to inform people of covid exposure 

Want to know if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus? Now, there’s an app for that.

Called MI COVID Alert, the free app for iOS and Android smart devices was rolled out statewide Monday by the state Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Anyone who has downloaded and enabled the app who has been within 6 feet of another MI COVID Alert user for at least 15 minutes in the last 10 days will be notified with a push alert if that close contact tests positive for the virus.

MI COVID Alert was developed by Apple and Google, Gordon said, and is anonymous. It does not share names of those who have gotten positive COVID-19 test results or people who’ve been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases.

Using Bluetooth technology instead of GPS to ensure privacy, app users can confidentially submit a positive test result with a randomly generated PIN and alert others who’ve recently been close by that they may have also been exposed to the virus.

 


warren closes city hall due to covid-19 outbreak 

Warren closed its City Hall to the public beginning Monday after at least two dozen city employees contracted COVID-19, Mayor Jim Fouts said Sunday.

The spike in the virus comes after cases during the pandemic have climbed in recent weeks and people have let down their guard.  Hundreds of people have come into City Hall in recent weeks to hand in mail-in ballots and cast their vote for the presidential election.

The virus has infected people working in several Warren city departments, including nine cases in the public safety department, nine cases in the District Court and five cases in another department.  The court, City Hall and police department will be disinfected.   The Warren Community Center and libraries remain open.


oakland university puts basketball programs on hold due to covid 

Oakland University has put its men’s and women’s basketball programs on hold after two coaches tested positive for COVID-19, the university confirmed Friday.

The university said Greg Kampe, head men’s basketball coach, and Jeff Tungate, head women’s basketball coach, are both COVID positive.

Both are reportedly experiencing mild symptoms and are during well.

Both programs are preparing for the start of the 2020 season which is less than three weeks away and the basketball programs are taking the necessary steps and precautions to return to play safely.

 


pfizer says early data indicates covid-19 vaccine is effective 

 

Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators.

Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries.

Authorities have stressed it’s unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and limited initial supplies will be rationed.

Volunteers in the final-stage studies, and the researchers, don’t know who received the real vaccine or a dummy shot. But a week after their second required dose, Pfizer’s study began counting the number who developed COVID-19 symptoms and were confirmed to have the coronavirus.

 


michigan sets another new covid case record 

 

Michigan shattered its daily COVID-19 case record again Thursday as it surpassed 5,000 in a day, joining other Midwestern states reporting an explosion of cases.

With Thursday’s 5,710 high case mark, Michigan joined 14 other states setting new single-day records the same day. Michigan’s neighbors — Ohio (4,961 cases), Indiana (4,426), Wisconsin (5,922) and Illinois (9,935) — were among the record-breakers.

Local health departments are investigating 590 outbreaks across the state, the largest since the beginning of the pandemic. They’re occurring in long-term care, schools, manufacturing, constructions, health care and social gatherings, the state said.

 


covid surges among michigan kids  

COVID-19 is rapidly spreading among Michigan children as more than 7,000 tested positive in October alone, and 18 kids are currently hospitalized statewide.

The number of Michigan kids testing positive has nearly doubled this fall — from 3,644 confirmed pediatric cases in August to 7,152 last month, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Among the children testing positive last month, 1,494 were 9 years old or younger, with 5,644 in the 10 to 19 age group.

More children were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 on Thursday than on any other day since the state started tracking pediatric coronavirus hospitalizations on Aug. 3. But serious illness is not common in kids with COVID-19, doctors said.


governor calls on legislators to pass law requiring masks 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on legislators to pass a law requiring residents to wear masks in indoor places and crowded outdoor areas.

The governor said she sent a letter to Republican lawmakers this week asking them to pass a bill. Lawmakers, especially Republicans leading the House and Senate, have asked to have more of a role in the process of tackling the pandemic, Whitmer noted. Now is their time to act.

State health orders issued in October already require mask wearing in public. Yet case rates continue to rise. While Whitmer said she thinks putting the requirement in law would likely encourage Michiganders to take the precaution more seriously, she knows people are tired and frustrated.

Whitmer said state health and labor officials are also “increasing scrutiny” of remote work policies, especially for employers requiring staff to work on-site. The state may cite employers, require changes and issue fines of up to $7,000, Whitmer said.

 


FARMINGTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS JOINS LIST OF DISTRICTS HALTING IN-PERSON LEARNING 

Farmington Public Schools officials are delaying a return to in-person learning that was to begin Monday, Nov. 9, as the area experiences an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

The start date for in-person classes for elementary students has been pushed back to at least Nov. 16.

The Farmington Board of Education voted unanimously last month to hold off on returning middle and high school students to in-person learning until Jan. 25.

Several other Oakland County school districts, including Huron Valley, West Bloomfield and Pontiac, also ended or delayed in-person learning after the county’s recent reclassification of coronavirus risk.

Like most Oakland County school districts, Farmington began the 2020-21 school year with all students learning remotely.

 


michigan sets covid case record 

Michigan once again set a new daily record of confirmed COVID-19 cases with 4,101 reported Wednesday. It also added 17 deaths from the coronavirus.

The additions bring the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 192,096 and total confirmed deaths to 7,419, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Wednesday’s numbers shatter the record set Saturday, 3,792 cases. Wednesday marks the third record for daily cases in the past two weeks.

On Tuesday, the state administered 42,000 tests with 37,968 having negative results, giving Michigan a 10.3% positivity rate. In September, the state’s positivity rate averaged 3%.

 

 


covid crisis doesn’t stop michiganders from going to the polls 

The weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election were rife with hand-wringing: fears of gun-toting poll watchers, long lines and misinformation paired with an ongoing pandemic that added to the uncertainty.

But Tuesday’s election was remarkably calm but busy, as clerks statewide reported few issues at polling places amid what is likely to be record-breaking turnout.

Late Tuesday night, 3.3 million absentee ballots had been returned statewide (doubling the 1.6 million at the August primary) and it was anticipated  2 million to 2.5 million people would vote in person, which would make for a record-breaking turnout of more than 5.5 million voters, nearly three-quarters of all registered voters in the state and breaking the previous turnout record of just over 5 million votes cast in the 2008 presidential election.

Full statewide results are unlikely until at least Wednesday because of a surge in absentee ballots, which take longer to count.

 

 


covid plasma trial underway, paid volunteers needed 

A new coronavirus study is taking place and volunteers are needed.

Doctors are encouraged about how plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients could help others who get the virus and to learn more, trials are going on across country including at Wayne State University.

Researchers are looking for patients who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last five days and have symptoms but aren’t sick enough to go to the hospital. They are also looking for people who were exposed in the last three days. Participants will get donated plasma, then doctors will monitor their symptoms.

Researchers say they need 1,100 total participants. They are reaching out to patients who could qualify. They’re also asking you to contact them if you meet the criteria. You could get up to $200 for participating.

How to enroll and when: Those who have been recently exposed, or are newly diagnosed and have symptoms, can contact Wayne State University and Johns Hopkins at 888-506-1199 or www.covidplasmatrial.org.

 

 


michigan softens rules for restaurants collecting customer information 

One day after new contact tracing regulations were imposed on Michigan restaurants and bars, the state health department softened requirements for collecting customers’ names and phone numbers.

Under the new guidelines released Tuesday, the state recommends — but does not require — dining establishments deny entry to customers who won’t provide contact information. The state also said it will not hold restaurants or bars responsible for patrons who provide false information, and will not require businesses to ask for proof of identification.

The clarifications were issued after the state restaurant industry expressed frustration Monday on how to interpret safety rules announced last week that were intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A business’s failure to ask for this customer information is a misdemeanor, carrying up to a six-month jail term and a possible $1,000 civil fine.

 


restaurants CALL ON STATE TO CLARIFY MANDATE REQUIRING THE collectION OF  customer contact information 

Under new pandemic orders that took effect Monday for Michigan restaurants, customers are required to provide their names and phone numbers as part of their dining experience.

The mandate is intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19, but the lack of information from the state on how that information is to be collected left the restaurant industry calling for more details.

Expectations for how to gather the information and what should be done with it are unclear, according to the CEO for the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. Also a concern is a restaurant owners’ liability if the personal details provided to the restaurant are shared.

Other questions include whether every person at the table must provide contact information, whether minors are included and whether a restaurant faces a penalty if false or incomplete information is given.

The state health department says it is finalizing guidance for restaurants, but didn’t say why that didn’t happen before the rules took effect.

 


CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAKS CONTINUE AT SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES 

More than 6,000 students and staff have been infected by coronavirus in new and ongoing school-related outbreaks, according to data released Monday, Nov. 2, by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

That includes 606 students and staff at outbreaks in 126 schools serving preschoolers through high school.

The bulk of the cases — 5,409– involve outbreaks on or around 28 college campuses.

In the case of K-12 outbreaks, it only reflects people who were infected at school or during a school-related activity, such as sports. College numbers include students infected at parties and other off-campus activities not sponsored by the school.

The state’s report reflects numbers collected on Thursday, Oct. 29.

A COVID-19 outbreak is defined as two or more cases with a link by place and time indicating a shared exposure outside of a household.


EMERGENCY STAY AT HOME ORDER LIFTED FOR UM STUDENTS 


The emergency stay-in-place order that was issued for University of Michigan students won’t be extended and will expire Tuesday morning, as originally scheduled.

The proportion of local COVID-19 cases associated with U of M has decreased, and importantly, this reduction in new, university-associated cases has allowed case investigators and contact tracers to catch up,” health officials said in a release. “Overall, the number of cases in Washtenaw County remains high and weekly test positivity has increased to nearly 4%.”

When the stay-in-place order was issued two weeks ago, more than 60% of Washtenaw County cases were associated with U of M students, and case investigators and contact tracers were unable to keep up with the sharp increase in these cases, experts said.   Student cases now represent about one-third of local COVID-19 cases.

 


CLINIC TO OFFER NEW RAPID COVID-19 TEST  

An Oakland County clinic is now offering rapid COVID-19 tests to employers and academic institutions.

Berkley Urgent Care has the federally approved Quidel Sofia 2 test, which provides results in 15 minutes, for $100 per person, representatives said.

The test, which is not covered by insurance, is available by appointment or walk-in at the clinic, on Greenfield Road in Berkley, for asymptomatic patients who need clearance for work, school or a medical procedure.

The antigen test delivers a highly accurate positive result and give patients’ results within minutes, rather than waiting days for results with prior tests.

The testing comes as coronavirus cases surge in the state.

On Monday, Michigan added 6,709 new cases and 17 more deaths.

That included a daily average of 3,354 cases per day from Sunday to Monday.


michigan covid surge thins poll worker ranks


With coronavirus cases surging across Michigan, election clerks are moving to replace poll workers who have dropped out after contracting the virus, reporting exposure or saying they’re too nervous to work the Nov. 3 election.

Shortages could lengthen in-person voting lines or slow a massive absentee ballot counting effort, but officials say there’s no cause for panic because local and state officials have spent weeks recruiting reserve workers to prepare for a second wave.

With many elderly or otherwise experienced poll workers already opting out, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office recruited more than 30,000 general election workers through its Democracy MVP program.

Many of those recruits have already been assigned, but the state is building what it hopes will be a 1,500-person emergency reserve pool of workers who could be deployed to local communities on Election Day.

 


deer season could scatter covid-19 cases 

Buddies, beer, cramped cabins, packed bunkhouses, card games and shared pots of food are beloved traditions of Michigan deer camps for many of the more than half-million hunters during deer season.

But they’re the stuff of nightmares for state and regional health officials battling to contain the fast-spreading new coronavirus.  The 15-day firearms season starts Nov 15, and already license sales have surged ahead of last year’s pace.

Health experts are worried people from different households will gather indoors and share food and drinks.  Adding to to concern, once the trip ends, hunters will return to their various communities, then gather for the holidays, increasing the potential for spread of the virus.


travelers to New York will need a negative covid-19 test 

The change replaces the state’s 14-day mandatory quarantine policy, and comes as New York reports a seven-day positivity rate of 1.49 percent — the third lowest in the country.

Under the new rules, travelers must get tested within three days prior to landing in the state, quarantine for at least three days upon arrival, and then get tested on the fourth day of quarantine. Travelers that test negative on that fourth day will no longer have to quarantine.

 


michigan to require restaurants to collect customer contact information 

Michigan restaurants will have to begin tracking the names and numbers of customers in case of COVID-19 outbreaks starting Monday under a policy announced Thursday as the state experiences surges in cases of the virus.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services unveiled orders that limit non-residential indoor gatherings without fixed seating to 50 people — the limit was 500 — and restrict individual table sizes at restaurants to six people.  Bars and restaurants will also be required to take names and contact information from customers to support contact tracing

The health department’s order on Thursday came on a day when Michigan set a daily case record at 3,675, along with 41 more deaths. That’s the most new confirmed cases in a single day during the seven-month pandemic for the state.

 

 


catholic school sues over mask mandate 

Resurrection School – a Catholic school in Lansing – is suing Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon for his mandate requiring mask wearing in schools all day because of the COVID-19 pandemic arguing it prevents students from getting a Catholic education.

The plaintiffs are urging a U.S. District Court to strike down the “unreasonable” order for schools, arguing it’s damaging developmentally and religiously.   There have been 29 COVID-19 outbreaks in preschools and elementary schools since August, per state data. None of the outbreaks have had 10 or more cases.

 


kroger to offer rapid antibody testing 

Kroger pharmacies across the U.S. are preparing to offer rapid COVID antibody testing to customers by the end of November. The tests, conducted using a finger-prick blood sample, will cost $25 and typically yield results within 15 minutes, officials said.

Individuals who are not currently experiencing COVID symptoms, but think they may have previously contracted the virus, are eligible to undergo testing at Kroger pharmacies.

Antibody testing helps determine if a person has previously been infected with COVID-19, even if they are currently healthy.

Officials say the rapid antibody testing is already available at some Kroger stores in Michigan and California. The company also offers in-clinic and at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

 

 


STATE RELEASES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VOTING SAFELY DURING PANDEMIC 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released recommendations for voters, poll workers and election officials for the Nov. 3 election.

When you vote or return your ballot, MDHSS says to practice healthy behaviors to protect yourself and slow the spread of the virus. These behaviors include:

 

  • Wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose.
  • Washing hands before entering and after leaving the polling location.
  • While in the polling location, frequently use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) of distance from others.

Poll workers are required to wear masks, voters are encouraged to do so.

 


TEACHERS, SUPPORT STAFF TO RECEIVE covid-19 GRANT MONEY

Some teachers and support staff who worked during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for grant money.  Under both the Teacher COVID-19 Grant and the Support Staff COVID-19 Grant programs, eligible teachers can receive up to $500 and eligible support staff can receive up to $250.    To qualify, employees must have performed at least of 75% of their standard instruction workload in brick and mortar classrooms during the last school year prior to the suspension of in-person instruction on April 2.

The Michigan Department of Treasury is working with the Michigan Department of Education, school entities and other education partners to implement the programs. Eligible teachers and support staff should consult the school entity where they worked during the 2019-2020 school year to ensure they receive a grant.

Grant funding checks are anticipated to be sent directly from the state Treasury Department to teachers and support staff in February 2021.

For more information about the grant program visit www.michigan.gov/TSSC19Grants.


MEDICARE FINALIZING COVERAGE POLICY FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE 


Medicare will cover the yet-to-be approved coronavirus vaccine free for older people under a policy change expected to be announced shortly.

The coming announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services aims to align the time-consuming process for securing Medicare coverage of a new vaccine, drug or treatment with the rapid campaign to have a coronavirus vaccine ready for initial distribution once it is ready, possibly as early as the end of the year.

Initially, it’s expected vaccines will go to people in high-risk groups such as medical personnel, frontline workers and nursing home residents and staff. Older people are also high on the priority list because their risks of serious illness and death from the coronavirus.

 

 


covid-19 outbreaks slowing in michigan k-12 schools 

Coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan K-12 schools continue to rise, but at a slower rate, according to a state report released Monday.  On college campuses, active cases dropped this week, with only the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor recording a significant rise in cases, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the weekly report, there were 482 COVID-19 cases linked to new or ongoing outbreaks in 99 K-12 school buildings in the week that ended Oct. 22. Those figures represent an 11 percent weekly increase in cases, compared to a 25 percent rise reported a week earlier.

There were no new cases reported at any Oakland County schools, however two schools are listed as sites of ongoing outbreaks.

 

 


covid cases force closure of schoolcraft police academy

 

Wayne County Regional Police Training Academy at Livonia’s Schoolcraft College is temporarily halting in-person instruction until November 9th, after eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, officials announced Monday.

The academy students “will use distance learning formats to complete their coursework during this time. We fully expect this class will graduate on time in November,” the post said.

The announcement came the same day state officials added 3,881 new COVID-19 cases and 29 more deaths, including 1,940 cases from Sunday.


oakland county unveils economic strategic action plan

 

Despite its years of stunning growth as Michigan’s richest county and key job generator, Oakland County’s continued success is no sure thing in the COVID-19 era.  To address the economic challenges, officials unveiled a 30-page Strategic Action Plan.

The plan aims to spur innovation, investment and growth through a focus on digitized manufacturing, regional collaboration, environmental sustainability, and increased workforce education and training.

 


hundreds infected as covid-19 surges thru michigan prison 

The novel coronavirus has torn through a prison in Marquette, infecting 75% of the more than 1,000 men housed there since the pandemic started in March.

And 42% of the 327 employees at Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday. A recent surge in infections led to a staffing shortage so dire that the Michigan Department of Corrections brought in employees from other prisons and transferred more than 200 Marquette prisoners to another facility.

Of the 618 men who remained housed at the prison as of Thursday, all but 45 had caught the virus, according to corrections spokesman Chris Gautz. More than 450 cases were considered active infections as of Friday. In total, 778 prisoners at Marquette have tested positive.


coronavirus cases on the rise in michigan  

Michigan has lost 35 more people to the novel coronavirus and 3,338 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Saturday’s update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Saturday’s update is the highest daily case count the state has reported since Oct. 15 at 2,030 cases, which included some of the previous day’s uncounted cases.

The state’s totals are now 7,182 confirmed deaths and 158,026 confirmed cases.  There are 109,539 recoveries so far.  Michigan has a slightly decreasing fatality rate of 4.5% among known cases.

The state has a positivity rate of 5.39%, reporting 2,873 out of 53,272 diagnostic test results returned Friday were positive.


flight delayed due to passenger refusing to wear a mask 

A Detroit Metro Airport flight to Las Vegas was delayed after a passenger refused to comply with Delta Air Lines’ face mask requirement.  According to a spokesperson, Flight 803 was delayed by about 90 minutes.

This is not the first Delta flight in Detroit with a delayed departure due to passengers refusing to wear face masks. In September, a flight going to Los Angeles returned to the gate after a passenger refused to don a mask.

Delta Air Lines instituted coronavirus-related policies requiring customers and employees to wear a mask.  Customers with underlying conditions who can’t wear a mask are required to complete a “Clearance-to-Fly” process, which can take over one hour according to the airline’s website.


michigan hospitals raise pay to $15 an hour to fill job openings  

Thousands of Michigan’s lowest-paid hospital workers received pay increases this month when two of the state’s largest hospital systems set a new $15 per hour minimum wage, a nod to increased competition for entry-level workers as the state faces a resurgence in COVID-19 and hospitalizations.

The announcements — by Henry Ford Health System and Trinity Health — followed months during the COVID-19 pandemic when the virus shined a light on inequities facing workers like janitors, food service workers and security guards.


fda approves first drug to rreat covid-19 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization.

The drug cut the time to recovery by five days – from 15 days to 10 on average – in a large study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

It had been authorized for use on an emergency basis since spring, and now has become the first drug to win full U.S. approval for treating COVID-19.


despite rise in covid cases, msu to allow students to return to dorms, in-person classes 

Michigan State University, which leads the state’s colleges and universities in coronavirus cases, announced Thursday that it would allow 2,500 students back into dorms and increase in-person classes tenfold in January.

In a letter to students and families, MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. wrote that protocols aimed at keeping students and staff safe on campus this autumn have proven effective.

The university argues that outbreaks are the result of unmonitored off-campus social gatherings, rather than activities on the campus, where everyone is required to wear a mask and classrooms have been adjusted to allow for social distancing.

 

When the second semester begins in January, MSU plans to allow an additional 2,500 students into residence halls that normally house about 10,000. Students living or taking classes on campus will be required to  participate in a campus COVID testing program.


 lawsuits filed challenging michigan’s epidemic orders  

Two lawsuits originating in Ottawa County appear to be the first to challenge the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ epidemic orders on gathering rules and mask use.    The epidemic orders largely have taken the place of some of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, which were overturned Oct. 2 by the Michigan Supreme Court.

On Friday, a Hudsonville Christian filed suit in Michigan’s Western U.S. District Court, alleging its constitutional rights were violated when the county health department threatened to shut the school because of violations of the state’s mask mandate and gathering restrictions.

On Wednesday, a Grand Haven chiropractor’s office filed suit in the Michigan Court of Claims, arguing that the department’s mask mandate exceeded what orders it is allowed to issue under state law.

 


michigan supreme court issues guidance on cdc eviction ban 

The Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday issued additional guidance to district courts and landlords in response to a nationwide halt on evictions issued in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The court’s administrative order includes a new requirement that landlords must file a “verification form” declaring whether or not a tenant has submitted a declaration attesting they meet the eligibility requirements of the CDC’s order. The order also says Michigan courts will process cases of nonpayment and can go so far as enter a judgement but that no orders of eviction can be issued while the CDC’s eviction ban is in place.

The CDC’s eviction ban, issued Sept. 1, temporarily halts residential evictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It bans evictions through the end of the year for people who have lost work during the COVID-19 crisis and are unable to make rent or find other housing options.


business leaders encourage unity among elected leaders 

As a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic takes hold in Michigan, a bipartisan group of business leaders has a message for the state’s elected officials: It’s time to battle the virus, not each other.

32 business leaders signed a three-page letter that was delivered to elected officials on Wednesday. The companies represented included well known brands like General Motors, DTE, Dow and Meijer.  Multiple universities and health care facilities are on the list, as are business advocacy groups like the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Lansing Regional Chamber, the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

What Michigan needs, according to the letter, “is complete unity of purpose and a strong collective response across our state. We call on our government leaders to foster that unity.”


cdc redefines covid-19 close contact 

U.S. health officials Wednesday redefined what counts as close contact with someone with COVID-19 to include briefer but repeated encounters.

For months, the CDC said close contact meant spending a solid 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who tested positive for coronavirus. On Wednesday, the CDC changed it to a total of 15 minutes or more – so shorter but repeated contacts that add up to 15 minutes over a 24-hour period now count.

The CDC advises anyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to quarantine for two weeks.

The change may prompt health departments to do contact tracing in cases where an exposure might previously have been considered too brief.


uptick in coronavirus cases connected to religious gatherings 

Michigan officials are raising concerns about an uptick in COVID-19 cases associated with religious gatherings.

Of the state’s 393 ongoing outbreaks — many of which are associated with longterm care facilities — 18 of them or 5% have been linked to religious gatherings, Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun said Wednesday. The number of outbreaks associated with religious gatherings has “significantly increased since September.”

The outbreaks came as Michigan experienced a record week of 10,241 confirmed cases of the virus for the week ending Oct. 17 and set a seven-day average for daily new cases at 1,463.

The state defines an outbreak as two or more cases “with a link by place and time indicating a shared exposure outside of a household.”


um under a stay at home order 

Washtenaw County is experiencing a rapidly growing number of COVID-19 cases, and leaders at the University of Michigan warned many of them can be traced back to maskless social gatherings around the Ann Arbor campus.

In response to the surge of cases in the county, the Washtenaw County Health Department on Tuesday issued a two-week, stay-at-home emergency order. The edict is immediate and runs through 7 a.m. Nov. 3

The stay at home order specifically does not include Michigan athletics. Michigan football plays at Minnesota on Saturday, and at home against Michigan State on Halloween. All Big Ten players are tested daily.

But the order will require undergraduate students to remain in their residences, unless they are going to in-person classes, getting food or doing work that cannot be done remotely.

 


factors behind michigan’s surge in covid-19 cases

As Michigan health officials warn of a second wave of COVID-19 and the state comes off its highest weekly total of confirmed cases, epidemiologists are attributing the rise to colder temperatures driving people indoors where the virus thrives as well as “pandemic fatigue.”

People are socializing less at bars and restaurants, which are restricted in many places and they have a false sense of security from the virus when they socialize at home with friends.

Michigan’s surge in coronavirus infections this month is part of a global upswing that has cases increasing in more than 30 states, Canada, and parts of Europe and South America.

 


governor signed unemployment extension into law 

Unemployed Michigan residents have up to an additional six weeks of jobless aid again after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed two bills into law that the GOP-led Legislature passed last week.

The legislation would extend the duration of jobless benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks, which is the maximum for federal benefits.

The bill also continues work share programs through the Unemployment Insurance Agency and waives requirements that an individual must be actively seeking employment if an employer confirms a layoff is temporary.

 

 


prisoners eligible for $1,2000 stimulus checks 

Most of the 35,000 prisoners with the Michigan Department of Corrections are now eligible for $1,200 stimulus checks after a federal court ruled the government can’t withhold the funds from people just because they’re in prison.

MDOC sent information to all inmates on Thursday, Oct. 15 on how to access the funds.

Paper claims must be postmarked by Nov. 4 while online claims are due by Nov. 21. An estimated 150 million Americans received stimulus checks from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act earlier this year.

 


Entrepreneurs Targeted by New Small Business Loan Program

Huntington announced this week that it is launching a new program, “Huntington Lift Local Business” that will offer loans to small businesses that have suffered financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Loans, expected to range from about one-thousand to five-thousand dollars ( or “micro-loans”) to upwards of $150,000 may enable struggling startups to continue business despite the toll of the past seven months of the pandemic, or inspire entrepreneurs to invest in their own ideas and kick-start a great idea or budding business that has been waiting for a spark.

Those that are interested in applying for these loans will qualify with a FICO credit score of 580 or higher, and the loans will also have re-payment options that will be flexible and long-term.

 


Michigan Records Nearly 3,000 New COVID-19 Cases Over Weekend

On Monday, Michigan health officials reported 2,909 new cases and 21 deaths over the weekend, moving the State of Michigan’s daily new cases average to its highest point since early April.

While Michigan’s testing numbers have remained about the same (about 30,000 daily), the positive rate has risen as of late, reaching about 4% last week, with the State’s fatality rate for COVID-19 being at 4.8%.

As of Monday’s updated numbers, the State of Michigan has reported a total of 147,086 novel Coronavirus cases and 7,031 deaths.

 


COVID-19 Causes Fewer Drivers on Michigan Roads, but Traffic Deaths Increasing

Over the seven months and counting of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have remained at home, schools have been closed and most public places have either been open at a reduced capacity or shut down altogether. This has led to fewer commutes and fewer non-essential trips outside of the home and, therefore, fewer cars on Michigan streets in 2020.

Despite the reduced overall traffic (and even fewer crashes), the Detroit Free Press’ Nisa Khan reports that, according to the Michigan State Police, 2020 has brought upon more vehicle-related deaths to date than the same period up to this point in 2019. Among the potential culprits of the increased death toll are speeding, tailgating and not wearing seat belts.

There have been twelve more deaths from January 1, 2020 to September 20, 2020 than the same time period in 2019, and this trend could inflate even greater without precautions being taken by Michigan drivers soon.

 


Canada Continues Its Non-Essential U.S. Travel Ban Through November

Canada has elected, once again, to extend its moratorium on non-essential travel across the border from the United States as the COVID-19 pandemic prolongs itself beyond the seven-month mark. The Canadian border will remained closed to such non-essential travel until November 21, as was announced on Monday, October 19 by the Canadian Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair.

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in a recent radio interview, indicated his desire to keep the border closed until the pandemic is “under control,” as written by Bloomberg’s Kait Bolongaro.

Canada’s travel restrictions on the undefended border to the United States began in March as the pandemic began to amount on a global scale, especially in North America. Although non-essential travel remains banned for the time being, Canada does permit necessary travel between the two countries for essential commerce, among other instances.

 


rapid covid testing on the rise, but are the numbers accurate?

After struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. can now screen several million people daily, thanks to a growing supply of rapid tests. But the boom comes with a new challenge: keeping track of the results.

All U.S. testing sites are legally required to report their results, positive and negative, to public health agencies. But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted.

And the situation could get worse as the federal government prepares to ship out more than 100 million of the newest rapid tests to states for use in public schools, assisted living centers and other new testing sites.

 


michigan covid-19 cases reach 5 percent positivity rate 

For the first time since late May, Michigan public health officials reported Saturday that 5 percent of nearly 42,600 tests for COVID-19 came back positive, a sign of growing spread of the coronavirus. The rate of positive tests in Michigan was under 3 percent earlier this fall.

There were 1,791 newly confirmed infections and 23 deaths Saturday, which pushed the state’s overall death total past 7,000 to 7,010.

Many of the new infections, 253, were reported in Marquette County, where Michigan Department of Corrections officials have been battling cases among staff at the prison there.

 


nursing home workers scheduled to strike 

A group of nursing home workers will walk off the job Monday morning over their working conditions in the pandemic.

Essential nursing home workers at Four Seasons Rehabilitation and Nursing home, located on Newburgh Road in Westland, had agreed in August to delay their planned strike by 30 days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged SEIU Healthcare Michigan and nursing home chains to negotiate toward a fair contract.

They said that they are treated like they’re dispensable and will now walk off the job Monday at 6 a.m., kicking off their strike over unfair labor practices.

They said they’re arguing for more PPE, better pay and more staff to help take care of patients.

 

 


MASKS ON FLIGHTS MAKE COVID-19 RISK ALMOST “NON-EXISTENT”  

After publishing a study conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense on exposure to the novel coronavirus on flights, United Airlines announced that the risk of such exposure aboard their aircrafts is “almost non-existent,” but some experts say that the claim could be misleading.

Using a mannequin, researchers ran 300 aerosol release tests in order to replicate breathing and coughing. After studying the particle movement within the cabin with and without a face mask, researchers found that “approximately 99.99% of particles were filtered out of the cabin within six minutes due to fast air circulation.

When a passenger is seated and wearing a mask, on average only 0.003% of infected air particles could enter their breathing zone, even when every seat on the plane is occupied.

 

The study comes as United — and other airlines — work to claw their way out of a financial disaster caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 


new app to alert people of possible covid-19 exposure 

The state on Thursday launched a COVID-19 exposure notification app pilot program on Michigan State University’s campus and for the surrounding community. The app aims to help reduce the spread of the virus following increased testing and additional contact tracing efforts in Michigan. 

MI COVID Alert is a free smartphone app that allows users with COVID-19 to confidentially alert students, faculty, staff and others who may have also been exposed to the virus

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a pin from the local health department or State of Michigan case investigators that allows them to share their test results anonymously on the app. MI COVID Alert uses low energy Bluetooth technology to detect nearby phones that also have the app, according to a news release. 

If a MI COVID Alert user has been in close contact with someone who submitted a positive COVID-19 test result, a push notification will be sent to their phone once the positive test result is entered into the system. A notification means the app user was possibly within six feet for at least 15 minutes of someone who tested positive and shared their result.

 

 


high number of single-day covid-19 cases reported due to tech issue 

Michigan reported its highest single-day increase in new coronavirus cases Thursday, but officials said the high number of cases is due to a slowdown in the reporting of electronic laboratory results and that Thursday’s numbers included cases that should have been reported Wednesday.

State health officials said 2,030 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Michigan Thursday morning. The increase brings Michigan’s coronavirus case total to 141,091.

The state also reported 32 new COVID-19 deaths Thursday, increasing Michigan’s coronavirus death toll to 6,973.

Michigan is ranked 19th in the U.S. in reported coronavirus cases, according to the World Health Organization. The state is 10th in the nation in COVID-19 deaths.

 

 

 


michigan  stores now required to accept cans and bottles for deposit return  

If a retailer sells beverage containers with a 10-cent deposit, it must now also accept those bottles and cans for deposit redemption, starting immediately, the State Treasury Department announced Thursday.

It’s the latest relaxing of restrictions put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order March 23 related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which temporarily halted bottle and can redemptions statewide. Of the 10 U.S. states with bottle and can deposits, Michigan was the only state to completely shut down its redemption program. It left more than $50 million in bottles and cans accumulating in people’s garages and closets for almost three months.

In mid-June, the state began allowing the state’s largest supermarket chains with reverse vending machines to begin accepting bottles and cans for deposit redemption again. On Oct. 5, that was expanded to all stores with the reverse vending machines.

Now, any store that sells the beverage containers, reverse vending machines or not, must redeem their deposits.

 

 

 


michigan safety officials issue new orders for employers 

Michigan labor and safety officials are issuing new rules for employers that dictate what precautions and steps they need to take to have employees return to work and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The emergency rules from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration come at the direction of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. They largely mirror the governor’s previous directives on COVID-19 that were invalidated because of several recent rulings by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The new rules for employers take effect right away and are in place for 90 days.

 

 


pandemic losses continue to batter airline industry 

More than 14.7 million fewer passengers have flown in and out of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport this year compared to last, gutting air industry revenues and causing layoffs, buyouts and closings at businesses that support one of the Midwest’s major international travel hubs.

Airports, airlines and other industry businesses all are trying to survive a dramatic dip in travel that likely won’t make a complete comeback until 2024, experts say. Meanwhile, the prospect of another stimulus package amid the final weeks of a presidential campaign is uncertain, even as the U.S. Travel Association, which lobbies for companies in the travel sector, warns that lack of additional aid could lead to the loss of 1.3 million more jobs by December.

 


no TAILGating at msu football game 

Tailgating and alcohol are banned on football Saturdays at Michigan State University, according to campus police.   Parking lots will also be closed, all in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.   There will be no public sale of tickets to Spartan Stadium. The first home game is Oct. 24 against Rutgers.

East Lansing, meanwhile, said any violation of its health orders could carry a $500 fine. Masks are mandatory — indoors and outdoors — in Downtown Development Authority areas.

Outdoor gatherings in neighborhoods popular among students are limited to 25 people. Indoor gatherings can’t exceed 10 people.

 

 


michigan lawmakers approve covid-19 plan 

Michigan lawmakers approved a COVID-19 response plan early Wednesday morning.

This comes after a Michigan Supreme Court ruling struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus-related executive orders.

The series of bills would continue unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks for eligible workers, allow local governments, school boards and other public bodies with a method to meet electronically, if necessary, to conduct business and engage with the public.  Also included, extending expiration deadlines for Michigan driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations until Dec. 31 and a bill aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

The plan now heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for approval.

 

 


concern grows about second wave as covid-19 cases surge 

Michigan added 1,237 new coronavirus cases and 30 more deaths on Tuesday — putting October on pace to generate Michigan’s biggest month for new cases since April, when the virus peaked in the state.

The daily average for new cases has increased each month since June.  The state is averaging 89 cases per million people per day.

More tests are coming back positive and more residents are being hospitalized for the virus. Michigan now has 3.6% of COVID-19 tests returned positive, compared with less than 3% in June, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

 

While summer spikes in numbers largely involved younger people, who are largely less susceptible to more serious cases, the state is starting to see an uptick of infections in its older population.

 

 


3 michigan cities make list of most rat infested 

Three Michigan cities are among the Top 50 Rattiest Cities in the United States this year – a year that saw increased rodent activity, according to pest control company Orkin.

While Chicago was named the most rat-infested city in the country, Detroit came in at No. 6. Grand Rapids ranks No. 29. Flint is No. 42.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic caused increased rodent visibility as restaurant closures forced them to find new food sources, according to the release. Without restaurant food waste, they were seen scavenging new areas and exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior.

 

 

 


 Supreme Court strikes down governor’s emergency powers effective immediately   

Emergency orders Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued under the Emergency Powers of Governor Act are struck down, effective immediately, the Michigan Supreme Court said Monday in a 4-3 order that added an exclamation mark to an Oct. 2 ruling.

But new emergency orders that the Whitmer administration has issued through the state health department director — which replicate mask requirements, restrictions on gathering sizes and restaurant capacity, among other features — are not affected by the court’s ruling.  The court denied a request from Whitmer to stay the decision for a few weeks.

The court’s decision “leaves open many avenues for our governor and Legislature to work together in a cooperative spirit and constitutional manner to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the order said.

 

 


experts dispute senate majority leader’s “herd immunity” comment  

In response to a comment from Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, five public health experts said Monday a COVID-19 strategy based around “herd immunity” could lead to four times as many deaths linked to the virus as the state has already reported.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, and Shirkey, a Republican from Clarklake, have clashed for months over Whitmer’s restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. The Senate leader has said his caucus won’t support a mandate that people wear masks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “community immunity” as a situation in which “a sufficient proportion of a population” is immune to an infectious disease, through vaccination or prior illness, to make its spread “from person to person unlikely.”

 

 

 


26 new coronavirus outbreaks reported at michigan schools   

Michigan recorded 26 new COVID-19 outbreaks in schools and universities within the last week, affecting at least 124 people, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

While 20 pre-kindergarten-to-grade-12 schools made the latest list of outbreaks, most have small numbers of cumulative cases.

Overall, a total of 116 students and staff are affected in the latest outbreaks in pre-K to grade 12, including three in Macomb County and one each in Oakland County and Wayne County.

Six colleges and universities were on the list of new outbreaks.

The department began identifying schools with outbreaks in mid-September.

A full list of all schools can be found here.

 

 

 


walled lake consolidated schools hacked  

Walled Lake Consolidated Schools are warning parents Monday morning about a cyber-attack and say hackers were able to gain access to their district’s computer system.

We’re told a team of forensic experts and others who specialize in cyber- attacks are investigating what happened.

The attack knocked out the district’s system over the weekend. Police have been contacted.

It appears the hackers got access to credentials and other information but investigators are still working to learn what information was gained and what may be at stake.

Virtual learning is expected to continue Monday uninterrupted.

 

 


michigan at high risk for virus outbreak 

A research group has once again labeled Michigan at “high risk” for a coronavirus  outbreak as COVID-19 cases begin to rise rapidly across the state.

The group of technologists, epidemiologists, health experts and public policy leaders at Covid Act Now are identifying each state’s risk level for the spread of COVID-19 — which have recently worsened in most parts of the U.S.

On Thursday, Michigan’s risk level for a coronavirus outbreak increased from “medium risk” to “high risk” for the first time since July 31.  The state’s new risk level is largely due to an increased infection rate and rapid increase of daily new COVID-19 cases, according to the data.  Michigan was previously labeled as experiencing “controlled disease growth.

 


bars back open for business 

Michigan bars, which have been closed for months after being allowed to reopen in the summer, are once again allowed to open under a new health order issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday.

Under the new order, bars are now no longer forced to close but can only serve alcohol to gatherings who are seated at tables. In other words, no bar service.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered indoor bar service to close throughout lower Michigan on July 1 as the state’s COVID-19 cases began to climb back up.

Additionally, under the new order, restaurants can still serve food indoor when parties are able to separate by at least six feet and the restaurants exceed 50% capacity.

Lastly, restaurants must close and be deep-cleaned consistent with Food and Drug Administration and CDC guidance if an employee is confirmed positive or show symptoms while at work.

 

 


theaters reopen but still struggle financially  

Movie theaters are now reopened in the area, which had been closed since mid-March under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across metro Detroit, cinemas are united in showing their commitment to keeping customers as safe as possible from the coronavirus. Besides following state measures, chains and independent theaters have pledged to participate in the national #CinemaSafe guidelines created specifically for their industry.

Despite doors being back opened, it’s still going to be a tough go for theatre owners.  Beyond having to limit their audience size, they’re facing a drought of the potential blockbusters that normally are the backbone of the holiday season.

 

 


faith-based groups gather at capitol to protest restrictions 


More than 100 members of faith-based groups and churches gathered on the Capitol lawn Thursday to support efforts to loosen Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictions in Michigan in a rally dubbed “Let MI People Go.”

The previously planned gathering by Stand Up Michigan occurred as news broke that state and federal agents had arrest at least 13 individuals who allegedly planned to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in part because of her restrictive COVID-19 rules.

Stand Up Michigan organizers condemned the violence against the governor.

 


Michigan Senate ties unemployment extension to business protections   

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate moved Thursday to replace some of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders while laying the groundwork for a dispute by tying an extension of unemployment benefits to new legal protections for businesses.

The Senate tie-barred a six-week extension of the maximum length of jobless assistance, which is widely supported in Lansing, to proposals that would shield businesses from some legal claims over COVID-19 exposure. The tie-bar would essentially force Whitmer to veto both proposals or sign both.

Many Democratic lawmakers have previously opposed the immunity bills, which passed the House last month.


 movie theaters and other venues to reopen today!  

For the first time in nearly seven months, theaters, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, amusement parks and trampoline parks will be able to reopen today.

Businesses will have to keep records on those entering their facilities in case of an outbreak, so they can be contacted later and abide by capacity limits.

For those excited to catch a flick on the big screen, you will have to wait to see the big blockbuster hits.  Hollywood has shifted release dates to sidestep the public health crisis.

 


MICHIGAN SENATE TO RETURN TO LANSING TO ADDRESS COVID-19  

Michigan Senate is set to go into session Thursday and take up coronavirus-related orders nearly a week after Michigan Supreme Court ruled to strike down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, who does not support statewide mask mandate, is set to talk about what is next.

Meanwhile, Whitmer has had the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)step in to keep mask mandates in place.  Health departments have sweeping authority in a pandemic.

 

 


COUNT DAY IN MICHIGAN SCHOOLS   

Count day has major financial implications for public schools on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Their per-pupil state aid is based on the mandated tally conducted twice in the school year in October and February to track attendance within each school district.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, districts across the state are conducting classes online, face-to-face, or a mix of both this year. Those differences in instructional methods forced the state to change its funding formula this year to allow schools to get the most accurate attendance count.

Prior to the pandemic, the per-pupil state aid was based on 90 percent of the fall count, combined with 10 percent of the February count.

This year, the state is using a new “super blend” formula to determine district funding,

The formula is a weighted blend of 75 percent of last year’s attendance and 25 percent of this year’s attendance, which keeps school districts from being penalized if students left their district this fall for other preferred learning plans.

 

 


MICHIGAN WILL NOT RELEASE INFORMATION ON CHILD DEATHS RELATED TO COVID-19  

Michigan is among eight states nationally that have not released details about the number of children who’ve died from novel coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The state Department of Health and Human Services told the Free Press on Tuesday that “fewer than five” children have died of COVID-19 or its complications so far this year, but it would not disclose specifically how many kids have died or provide any other details.

A spokesperson for MDHHS says it’s due to privacy concerns.  However, other states are releasing the data.

 


schools must disclose covid-19 cases within 24 hours  


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a new rule Tuesday to replace Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s former order on school COVID-19 case notification.

K-12 schools will be required to provide public notice if they have a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 among students, faculty or staff. The order is effective Monday and lasts through Oct. 30.

According to the department order, the notice to the school community must go out within 24 hours after the local health department informs a school of the case.  The local health department must also notify close contacts of the associated case.

 

 


michigan health department issues order limiting visitation at nursing homes  

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued emergency orders to maintain existing COVID-19 precautions in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities Tuesday in the wake of a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision invalidating many of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus executive orders.

One of the orders issued by MDHHS Director Robert Gordon continues visitation restrictions for residential care facilities like nursing homes, adult foster care and assisted living facilities.

The residential care order also stipulates notice requirements for employees, residents, legal guardians and health proxies for residents when an employee or resident tests positive, and also requires the facility to post public notices and notify the local health department when a case occurs.  The order also requires residential care facilities to keep records of Personal Protection Equipment supplies and report that information to the state.

 

 


more than one third of michigan voters won’t get vaccinated against covid-19  


More than a third of Michigan voters say they will not get vaccinated against the coronavirus, even if the measure is federally approved and recommended by their doctor, according to a Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll.

When asked if they would take a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration, 39% said they would not; 44% indicated that they would and the remainder were unsure.

The substantial numbers who said they would not get vaccinated signals an uphill climb for the state to convince residents that an approved vaccine is both reliable and important for public and personal health.

 

 


mhsaa announces increase in spectator limits  


The Michigan High School Athletic Association announce an increase in its spectator limits from two fans per participant to up to 1,000 fans per venue, effective immediately.

The increase was set to take effect Friday, Oct. 9, but it will now apply to competitions beginning Tuesday afternoon.

Under the MHSAA guidelines, crowd sizes at high school sports competitions will be determined by the venue’s size, with indoor venues in Regions 1-5, 7 and 8 allowed to hold 20 percent of their seating capacity up to 500 spectators, and indoor venues in Region 6 able to be at 25 percent capacity.   Outdoor athletic venues across the state will be allowed to hold 30 percent of their seating capacity up to 1,000 spectators.

If local health department orders are stricter than the MHSAA limits, member schools and venues are expected to follow those local orders.

 

 

 


state health official says face coverings still required  


Michiganders are still required to wear masks, and the size of indoor gatherings will still be limited.

Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, announced a series of public health orders Monday afternoon to continue to require masks and limit gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to make clear today’s order is lawful under the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent decision,” Gordon said, adding that “it’s important to stay the course we’ve been on.”

 

 


unlock michigan campaign to move forward   

The Unlock Michigan campaign, which had been collecting signatures for months to repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of Governor Act (EPGA), says its work is not done and still intends to see the process through.  A spokesperson for the campaign said while the court’s ruling is good news, there is concern the upcoming election could replace judges with more liberal judges which could lead to a reversal of the decision.

 

Unlock Michigan reportedly turned 539,384 signatures Friday, well exceeding the minimum 340,047 signatures of registered Michigan voters it needed to gather within 180 days.  Upon certification from the Michigan Bureau of Elections, the measure would go to the GOP-led state Legislature for approval — and Whitmer would not have veto power.

 


governor warns unemployment benefits could be in jeopardy    

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is asking for clarity on when the state’s Supreme Court ruling on her executive orders goes into effect, saying more than 800,000 Michiganders could be at risk of losing unemployment benefits if the orders are struck down immediately.

When the court ruled that her executive powers were unconstitutional, it wiped away months of executive orders. Among them, orders that expanded unemployment insurance during the pandmic.

With the governor’s emergency powers now gone, any expansion of state unemployment now has to come from the legislature. The governor is asking for clarity of when the ruling takes effect, hoping for more time.

The ruling does not impact anyone on federal unemployment insurance.

 

 

 


24 new covid-19 outbreaks reported in michigan schools   

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday that 24 outbreaks have been recorded in Michigan schools and universities within the last week, affecting 124 people.

Overall, a total of 85 students and staff are affected in the latest outbreaks in pre-K to grade 12. Six colleges and universities were on the list of new outbreaks with cumulative cases ranging from two to 20.

The data come from COVID-19 outbreaks reported by local health departments each week to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. An outbreak is defined as two or more COVID-19 cases among people who are from different households but may have shared exposure.

 


nessel won’t enforce covid-19 executive orders   

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced she will no longer enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders on COVID-19 after the state’s highest court deemed an emergency powers law unconstitutional.

But Nessel’s office left open the possibility for local enforcement and said her office will enforce separate epidemic orders from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

 

 


oakland county health department issues order requiring face coverings  

The Oakland County health department issued an order requiring residents to wear masks when they leave their homes.  The order comes a day after the state Supreme Court struck down a law used by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to mandate face coverings and issue restrictions to curb the coronavirus. The court ruling gives lawmakers a role because their approval will be needed to extend a state of emergency that underpins Whitmer’s orders.

Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford cited her authority to take emergency steps to control an epidemic under a 1978 state law.

 

 


 business fines, citations to remain despite court ruling 

State regulators say citations they’ve issued to businesses for non-compliance with COVID-19 rules will not be rescinded, even in light of a Michigan Supreme Court decision upending Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders back to April 30.

What’s more, employers must still comply with workplace safety protocol provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health guidance and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued thousands of dollars in citations to Michigan businesses for failing to implement COVID-19 precautions under the agency’s “general duty clause,” which requires employers to provide workspaces free of hazards causing death or serious harm.

 

 


president trump and First Lady test positive for covid-19 

,President Donald Trump said early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that plunges the country deeper into uncertainty just a month before the presidential election.

Trump, said in a tweet he and Mrs. Trump were quarantining. The White House physician said the president is expected to continue carrying out his duties “without disruption” while recovering.

Trump’s announcement came hours after he confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of his most trusted and longest-serving aides, had been diagnosed with the virus Thursday.

 

 


benefits extended for unemployeed michigan workers  

New funding is kicking in for unemployed Michigan workers nearing the end of their benefit period.

Michigan’s extended benefit program has been triggered, allowing people to get an extra 20 weeks of state unemployment benefits. The maximum amount a worker can receive per week in state unemployment is $362.

The extra 20 weeks brings the total to 59 weeks. Michigan typically only allows people to be on unemployment for 20 weeks, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer added six weeks of benefits when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

 


 devos won’t appeal court ruling over private school funds  

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos won’t appeal a court ruling that annuls an interim final department rule requiring K-12 public schools to share federal CARES Act relief funding with private schools.

“The Department strongly, but respectfully, disagrees with the ruling,” DeVos wrote in a letter, saying However, we respect the rule of law and will enforce the law.  The Department will not appeal these rulings.  A coalition argued the department stripped public schools of crucial federal funding provided under the CARES Act.

 

 



executive order establishes care and recovery centers 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order establishing “care and recovery centers” to help care for elderly with COVID-19.  The centers, which can be wings, units or buildings located in existing nursing homes across the state, will have to meet additional safety and preparedness standards compared to the state’s past regional hubs.

The governor’s approach to the virus in nursing homes has been the subject of heated debate.  About 32% of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths  have been nursing home residents.

 

 


massive layoffs for airline employees 

Thousands of airline workers are receiving pink slips this week.   American is furloughing 19,000 employees, while United is laying off about 13,000.

The layoffs add to job losses that already total 150,000 at the nation’s four largest carriers.   Airline leaders say if the lawmakers pass an economic relief bill, which includes $25 billion in payroll aid for airlines, they will reverse the furloughs.

 

 


more spectators to be allowed at high school sporting events   

The atmosphere under the Friday night lights will feel much different beginning Oct. 9, following the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s decision to increase the football spectator limit to 30 percent of a stadium’s capacity up to 1,000 fans.

The move from two spectators per athlete to 30 percent capacity means students will have the chance to cheer on their classmates, schools will have to stay vigilant in enforcing social distancing to limit COVID-19 outbreaks in schools and communities.

 


governor extends state of emergency  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday extended Michigan’s state of emergency through Oct. 27 as officials continue to voice concern about the threat of COVID-19.

The emergency declaration has been in place since March 10, when Michigan reported its first cases of COVID-19 and 231 days before the extended state of emergency is set to end

The emergency declaration is what gives the governor the ability to take unilateral actions to combat the virus, such as shuttering businesses, suspending portions of state laws or requiring people to wear masks.

 

 


thousands of essential workers apply for free tuition  

In just over two weeks since the program launched, more than 60,000 Michiganders have applied for a program to cover college tuition costs for essential workers.

The new Futures for Frontliners program provides a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate to essential workers who do not have a college degree, including those who lack a high school diploma.

The state is hosting a series of online meetings in October to answer questions about the program and explain how essential workers can take advantage of it.

 


dogs being trained to detect covid-19  

Dogs have been trained to sniff out everything from drugs to bed bugs, and now one Michigan couple is using them to detect Covid-19.  Lori and Jack Griggs with Paradise Dog Training began re-training two of their dogs by using salvia samples from people they knew who had the virus.

They say the dogs have a 90 percent accuracy rate.

 

 


NO EXCEPTION TO ALLOW LIONS FANS INTO STADIUM  

The Detroit Lions are still “very hopeful” they can host some fans at games this season, perhaps as soon as their Nov. 1 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field.

But Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest Covid-realted orders, which opened indoor venues such as theaters and bowling alleys, continue to prohibit indoor gatherings of more than 500 people. And she says she doesn’t intend to carve out exceptions anytime soon.

 

 


covid-19 cases continue to spike in michigan schools  

Coronavirus cases linked to outbreaks at Michigan colleges surged 72 percent in one week, surpassing 3,800 cases in a report state officials say is likely an undercount of the total cases linked to campuses.

Meanwhile, the number of Michigan K-12 schools with confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks jumped 64 percent in one week, from 28 schools in last week’s report, to 46 this week.  There were no new outbreaks listed for schools in Oakland County, however the state is still monitoring five on-going outbreaks.

Children and young adults generally are believed to be less likely to suffer serious health issues from contracting COVID-19. Still, since young people can spread coronavirus to more vulnerable family and friends even if they are showing no signs of the illness.

 


coronavirus cases declining in communities of color 

African Americans in Michigan are contracting the coronavirus at the same rate as whites, according to state data released Monday, reducing the disproportionate impact of cases and deaths the minority suffered during the early stages of the pandemic.

State officials released data Monday showing that Michigan has seen “significant progress” in reducing COVID-19 on communities of color in the past two weeks and created a program in hopes of continuing the trend.

Officials created the Rapid Response Grant program to help local organizations continue the administration’s efforts to tackle racial disparities.

 

 


attorney general launches criminal investigation into unlock michigan 

Unlock Michigan, a group of petitioners seeking the end of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers, is under criminal investigation for allegations it gathered the necessary 500,000 signatures improperly.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office is looking into the group’s tactics, which are aimed at repealing the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.  The petition is backed by the Michigan GOP and if enough signatures are valid and the legislature takes up the initiative and approves it, the law can be repealed without the governor’s signature. If the legislature votes the initiative down, it would be left up to the voters during a future election.

 

 


music venues to reopen with restrictions 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has paved the way for a more extensive opening of concert venues in Michigan starting Oct. 9 — though it will still be far from business as usual for struggling clubs and theaters.

Under an executive order issued Friday, the governor will permit attendance at indoor performance venues to grow to 20 people per 1,000 square feet for open spaces, and 20% of capacity for fixed-seating situations.

Attendance will be capped at 500 regardless.

The costs of staffing, event insurance and other factors mean it’s unlikely we’ll see many traditional concerts at area music spots.

 

 


virus outbreak could impact michigan’s apple industry

Covid-19 could take a bite out of Michigan’s apple industry.  The industry relies heavily on human labor and an outbreak could bring a farm’s harvest to a halt.  The state now requires owners to test workers to help prevent the spread of the virus and some farmers say that has made it hard to get enough workers because some migrant workers are reluctant to be tested.

Michigan apples are sold in 32 states and 18 countries, with a crop valued at more than $250 million dollars.

 

 


MICHIGAN TRACKS MORE THAN 900 CORONAVIRUS CASES  

For the first time since late April, Michigan public health officials reported more than 900 new coronavirus infections for three straight days.

The state reported 901 confirmed cases Saturday, bringing the total to 121,427 confirmed cases total. There are another 12,946 probable cases.

But the higher case counts have not triggered higher rates of hospitalizations and positive tests results are less than 3 percent positivity rate.

 


thanksgiving day parade to be only televised this year  

America’s Thanksgiving Parade, presented by Gardner White, will be a televised event only this year. This year’s format was designed as a safe way to continue the 94-year-old tradition during the unprecedented times we are living in.

The theme this year will be “We are One Together,” in an effort to honor the essential front-line workers and the heroes of the COVID-19 devastation.

The Parade Company also announced the Turkey Trot will not take place downtown this year and will exist only as a virtual race. The company’s annual Hob Nobble Gobble presented by Ford Motor Company has been canceled and will resume on November 19, 2021, at Ford Field.

 

 


extension for expired licenses and vehicle tabs ends next week  

Michigan drivers with expiring licenses and vehicle plate tabs were given a free pass when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state in March.

That ends next week.

Anybody whose license or vehicle registration expires between March 1 and Sept. 29 were given an extension to Sept. 30 thanks to a bill passed by the state legislature this summer. Starting Oct. 1, anybody with an expired license or tabs is subject to late fees and tickets from police, per a Michigan Secretary of State news release.

SOS offices are open by appointment only, and due to the backlog, some offices are offering special appointments and staying open until 7 p.m. through Sept. 20th.

 


following pressure, msu to now report all covid cases   

Two days after the Ingham County health officer called out large differences in COVID case counts at Michigan State University — her department tallied more than twice what MSU reported — the university has updated its website to reflect the larger number.

The Michigan State coronavirus tracker web page as of Thursday lists 1,219 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Aug. 24, up from 499 that the university reported for that time period earlier this week.

It’s another win for transparency in a state that is struggling not only to release real-time information about school outbreaks, but also to help worried families, schools and businesses understand how COVID-19 data can change as case investigations unfold.

 

 


covid-19 to change Yom Kippur celebrations   

Yom Kippur will bring about a new set of emotions this year as communities celebrate distantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. This year it begins at sundown Sunday, Sept. 27, and ends at sundown Monday, Sept. 28.

Services will be different this year. While many Jews will take part in online services, Orthodox Jews do not use electrical devices on holy days, and so cannot use the internet as a replacement for live, in-person services.  For them, services will be in person small groups, while social distancing, wearing masks with services outside.

 

 


Unlock Michigan collects signatures to move forward   

Unlock Michigan, the group that wants to limit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic, says it’s collected enough petition signatures to put the proposal before the GOP-controlled Legislature.

But an opposing group is questioning the validity of those signatures, arguing some petition gatherers had been trained with improper tactics to gain support.

Unlock Michigan said it has gathered more than 500,000 signatures to repeal a 1945 law that allows a Michigan governor to declare an emergency and keep the declaration in place without input from state lawmakers. The emergency declaration is important because it gives Whitmer the ability to take unilateral actions to combat the pandemic, such as closing businesses or suspending state laws.

 

If 340,047 of the collected signatures are deemed valid by the Michigan Bureau of Elections, the repeal proposal could go before the Legislature for approval without Whitmer having a chance to veto it.

 

 


house ok’s covid liability laws    

Legislation approved by the full House Wednesday would protect businesses from lawsuits stemming from clients or employees who contract COVID-19 in the course of business.

The legislation, which would apply retroactively to Jan. 1, 2020, would shield businesses from litigation unless the claimant can show the business “willfully exposed the employee to COVID-19 unless the employee was, at the time of the exposure, working in a health care setting.”

Businesses attempting to operate within COVID-related federal or state laws, executive orders or public health guidance would be immune from lawsuits.

But the legislation appears headed for a veto from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

 


 lawmakers approve state budget    

Michigan lawmakers signed off on a $62.75 billion state budget deal Wednesday afternoon, avoiding the severe cuts many worried might be necessary at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a boost from federal funding.

Two bills representing the state’s education and general operating budgets were made public Wednesday passed along wide bipartisan margins in both the state House and Senate just hours later. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the budget soon.

Unlike previous budget cycles, negotiations were conducted almost completely behind closed doors, and lawmakers skipped the typical process of offering up separate House and Senate budget proposals.

 

 


 pontiac receives grant to help prepare for upcoming election    

The city of Pontiac has been awarded a $405,564 grant from a national nonprofit to help prepare for and implement the upcoming presidential election.

Pontiac City Council voted to receive the funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life on Sept. 15. The nonpartisan nonprofit works to connect election officials to tools, training and experts with the goal of modernizing U.S. elections.

The grant will be used to create a Pontiac Safe Voting Plan.  It includes the hiring of additional temporary employees to handle the influx of absentee voter applications and ballots and extended office hours on weekdays and weekends in October.  Seven drive-up and drop-off boxes for absentee voters will also be installed in the city.

 

 


rally to ‘unmask’ student athletes   

There’s a push to “unmask” high school athletes in Michigan.

Parents who argue masks can create breathing difficulties, especially for high impact sports, have organized a rally in Lansing Wednesday.

Under Governor Whitmer’s current executive order, athletes are required to wear masks at all times for football, soccer and volleyball.

“Unmask MI Youth Sports,” is hoping their action in Lansing will prompt state leaders to reconsider this mandate. The rally is scheduled at 9 a.m. at Michigan’s capitol building.

A new Facebook group called “Unmask MI Youth Sports,” has around 19,000 members.

 

 


covid-19 outbreak reported at juvenile detention center   

Oakland County Children’s Village and Health Division are working closely together to stop the spread of COVID-19 at Children’s Village after an employee tested positive for the illness on Sept. 3.

Since that date, four additional staff members and four residents have also tested positive for the virus.  All were close contacts of each other and were connected to one building. The positive cases are in isolation.  All employees and residents will continue to be tested until all results are negative.

The Village is the juvenile detention center where child criminal offenders are held. There are also children housed there who are wards of the court and temporarily placed there by a judge.

 

 


cdc issues guidelines for halloween related activities  

The CDC has released official guidance for celebrating Halloween amid the coronavirus pandemic, and trick-or-treating is among the activities that are discouraged.  Other high-risk activities the CDC is asking people to avoid are, trunk-or-treats, attending crowded, indoor costume parties and indoor haunted houses.

 

The guidelines also include clarification that costume masks are not a substitute for a cloth face covering and costume wearers should not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask, as this could cause difficulty breathing.

 

 


popular haunted house returns to pontiac   

Erebus Haunted Attraction will open for the season this Friday, Sept. 25. The half-mile haunted house in downtown Pontiac, will be functioning a little differently this year.

The haunted attraction will be open every weekend, and some weekdays, beginning this Friday with extra safety precautions due to COVID-19.

Along with a smaller number of live actors, Erebus has hired a dedicated cleaning staff. There will also be hand sanitizer stations throughout the attraction. All actors must wear face masks and stay at least six feet from guests.  Visitors will be required to wear a face covering, have their temperature checked and will only be allowed to go thru the attraction with their own group.

 

 


confrontation over mask leads to felony charges   

A 49-year-old man faces two felony charges after allegedly spitting on and insulting a man who confronted him at a Livonia gas station about not wearing a mask.

Police say a 56-year-old man confronted a 49-year-old man about him not wearing a mask, which is required.   The suspect has been charged with ethnic intimidation and assault.

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advised retail workers last month to avoid confrontations with people who aren’t wearing masks.

 

 


 COVID-19 surges through michigan schools 

Coronavirus outbreaks are spiking in Michigan schools and colleges, with a report released by the state Monday listing new or ongoing outbreaks in 28 K-12 schools and at 20 colleges and universities across the state.

The report, which tallies outbreaks as of Sept. 17, indicates there are now at least 2,220 COVID-19 infections linked to new or ongoing outbreaks at Michigan colleges and universities – up more than 60 percent from the 1,379 reported by the state in the week previous.

While cases are increasing in school and college settings, hospitalizations among the state as a whole are not. Coronavirus hospitalizations are now near a low since April.

 


  wastewater being tested to track covid-19 outbreaks 

The testing of wastewater for evidence of COVID-19 is showing promise. A new paper suggests it could provide a very early warning of an impending outbreak.

The main way epidemiologists have followed the growth of the pandemic is through testing individuals. Those results will be delayed from the date the person actually first becomes infected. Wastewater testing will detect a problem much sooner.

Researchers at both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan have already started looking at how wastewater testing could be used to detect COVID-19 outbreaks on their campuses.

 


hospitality workers to receive extra money 

Restaurant and hotel workers and others in Michigan’s hospitality industry who have faced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic will again have the opportunity to apply for a one-time assistance payment of up to $500 beginning this week.

The Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund, supported by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation, will reopen its application from 8 a.m. Tuesday to 5 p.m. Oct. 1.

Applicants must be Michigan residents, have proof of employment in the hospitality industry on March 10 when Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Michigan. Applications will also need to provide proof of a furlough or job loss as a result.

 


FLIGHT ATTENDANTS TO RALLY FOR COVID-19 RELIEF  

Flight attendants will rally outside of Senator Debbie Stabenow’s Detroit office to demand action on COVID-`19 relief.

The union says without passage of a relief package, hundreds of thousands of airline workers across the country are in jeopardy of losing their jobs.

The Payroll Support Program, that passed as part of the CARES Act, was a workers first package that protected flight attendants, pilots, and airline workers across the country, expires on September 30.

 

 


 COVID-19 SURVEILLANCE TESTING COMING TO CMU

As a next step in its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 within the campus community, Central Michigan University will launch a surveillance testing program. For this endeavor, the university seeks asymptomatic students, faculty and staff on the Mount Pleasant campus to participate.

In pooled testing, samples from multiple people are combined before being tested for the virus. If the pooled sample returns a positive result, each individual sample is then tested separately to determine which individual or individuals are infected.

Pool testing allows CMU to monitor and respond to virus trends and to quickly screen for individuals who are asymptomatic but infected.

 


U-M ENDS AMBASSADOR PROGRAM, SHIFTS TO A CULTURE OF CARE  

The Michigan Ambassador Program at the University of Michigan has been discontinued, instead shifting to a “culture of care” for the fall 2020 semester.

The program — which featured groups of students, faculty, staff, community members and unarmed members of UM’s Division of Public Safety and Security — was created to promote public health-informed practices and guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic.University officials say, education — not law enforcement — will now be the first response to violations of public health guidelines, and the program would help remind students and community members to follow the rules.

UM established a COVID Concerns hotline for people to call to report concerns so law enforcement is not needed as a first response

 

 


 businesses cited for covid-19  violations  

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, MIOSHA, recently issued coronavirus citations to 19 different businesses for “serious violations” that could put workers in harm’s way, the agency confirmed Thursday.

Citations were issued under MIOSHA’s “general duty” clause, which requires employers to have a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee.” One of these citations carries a fine of up to $7,000. Among the types of businesses cited; a restaurant, home improvement store, auto repair shop and construction sites.

 

 


travel ban to canada for americans extended 

Americans won’t be able to cross the border into Canada for at least another month as that country’s government waits for the COVID-19 pandemic to be “managed efficiently” in the United States.

Canada will keep the border with the United States closed to non-essential travel until at least Oct. 21

Border restrictions were first announced in March and have been extended monthly since then. Truck drivers transporting essential goods like food, health-care professionals along with other essential travelers are still allowed to cross.

 

 


 michigan could remain in covid-19 state of emergency for months  

Speaking during a Facebook Live discussion with small business leaders, Governor Whitmer said Michigan could remain in a state of emergency for months, not years.

Whitmer initiated the state of emergency March 10th during the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Since then, she has issued 170 executive orders, which do not require approval from the Legislature.

Frustration is growing among small business leaders who are calling on the Governor to be more transparent in her decision-making process.

 

 


high school football returns in michigan   

After much debate, high school football kicks off in Michigan, but with a lot of new restrictions.  Including who is allowed to attend.  The Governor’s executive order limits the number of spectators that attend games to two people per game participant.  Football players, coaches, trainers and fans will be required to wear face coverings at all times.  Concessions for outdoor sporting events are allowed under the MHSAA guidelines, but social distancing must be practiced.  Digital tickets and cashless concession sales are being encouraged.

 

 


INFANT BABY DIES FROM COVID-19 COMPLICATIONS  

A 2-month-old died from complications related to COVID-19, according to the state’s top doctor.

Circumstances of the child’s death were not immediately detailed by the state, but Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun acknowledged the death of the young infant while noting about 800 children across the United States have been diagnosed with multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19.

The 2-month-old was the youngest COVID-19-related fatality reported to the state so far, and the only child younger than 1 in Michigan to have died from the virus.

On Wednesday, Michigan added 680 cases and 11 deaths, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 113,863.


 VIRUS OUTBREAK HALTS NOVI SCHOOL SPORTS  

Athletics at Novi High School have been postponed after five students at the school tested positive for the virus, prompting classes to switch to virtual learning for the remainder of the week.

All athletic events, including practices, has been postponed until Sept. 20. Students are also not allowed to use athletic facilities at Novi high school or middle school for the time being. However, Novi middle school athletic events will continue to run as scheduled, according to the district.

 

 


stay in place order issued to grand valley state students 

Students at Grand Valley State University were ordered Wednesday to hunker down for two weeks due to a spike in coronavirus cases linked to the western Michigan campus.

There have been more than 600 cases of COVID-19 among students since Aug. 23, with the majority among students living off campus, Ottawa County health officials said.

The stay-in-place order starts Thursday. Students must stick to their on-campus or off-campus residence unless attending classes, exercising, getting food, seeking health care or working at an essential job.

Students cannot return to their home community unless there’s an emergency.


 top health official defends state response to covid-19 in nursing homes 

 A top health official Wednesday defended Michigan’s handling of nursing home residents infected with the deadly coronavirus, contending its performance has been “strong” compared to other states and dismissed Republicans’ call for facilities that house only COVID-19 patients.

Robert Gordon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said just two states — Florida and Massachusetts — tried the approach and have since abandoned it. Majority GOP lawmakers and some Democrats have criticized letting recovering patients stay in or return to homes as long as they are isolated from uninfected residents.

 

 


big ten football is back! 

After more than a month of political wrangling, coach chirping, parent protests, player lawsuits, fan frustration and public outcry, the conference will announce Wednesday it plans to hold a season this fall after all.

All 14 teams will play and are expected to start games the weekend of Oct. 24, two Big Ten sources with direct knowledge of the decision said. The reported plan is for an eight-game season, with the Big Ten championship game scheduled for Dec. 19. That is the day before the College Football Playoff pairings are expected to be announced.

 

 


state senate approves bill allowing for pre-processing of absentee ballots 

The Michigan Senate approved legislation that would allow local clerks more time to process absentee ballots ahead of election day amid a surge in absentee voting prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bills would allow clerks to begin opening envelopes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. the day before Election Day, but the legislation includes a sunset provision so it does not continue past the November election.

While the bill allows for the opening of the absentee envelope, workers must not pull the absent voter ballots from the secrecy envelopes.

The bill next advances to the House.

 


michigan restaurant association launches campaign 

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is launching a new campaign in Michigan, warning what will happen if changes aren’t made to the state’s capacity limits. The new campaign is called “Don’t Leave Michigan’s Hospitality Industry Out In the Cold” and is an effort to educate and advocate lawmakers in Lansing for fewer restrictions once the cold weather hits.

Industry leaders say they know how to keep everyone safe through protocols that include enhanced cleaning and social distancing, so now the conversation needs to include increasing capacity and getting people back to work.

Industry leaders estimate 4,000-plus restaurants will close this year if capacity restrictions aren’t eased.

 


u-m files complaint against union strike 

The University of Michigan filed a complaint and motion in Washtenaw County Circuit Court on Monday, requiring the Graduate Employee Organization to return to work.

U-M is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the graduate instructors union’s strike. On Sunday, 80% of union members voted to extend the strike, which started on Sept. 8, for another five days.

The union is demanding better transparency for COVID-19 testing, a universal remote option to work, child care subsidies, and a demilitarized campus.

If the court grants the injunction, GEO members — who refuse to work — could be held in contempt of court.

 


schools, local governments spared from state budget cuts 

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and Republican legislative leaders have agreed to a framework for the 2021 budget that will protect funding for K-12 schools and local governments despite revenue declines associated with COVID-19.

The tentative agreement means Whitmer and GOP leaders appear poised to avoid the kind of prolonged budget battle that led to a near-government shutdown last year.

The Michigan constitution requires the governor and legislators to finalize a balanced budget by Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year starts.


state identifies schools with covid-19 outbreaks 

There are new or ongoing coronavirus outbreaks at 11 Michigan K-12 schools and 13 colleges, according to data released Monday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Total positive cases now exceed 1,400.

Among the newly identified K-12 outbreaks: a Big Brother Big Sister program at Birmingham Groves High School.

The vast majority of reported cases released by the state Monday were in colleges and universities – 1,379 confirmed cases on 13 campuses.

 


quarantine mandatory for residents at 30 East Lansing properties 

The Ingham County Health Department has mandated a two-week quarantine of people living in 30 large houses in East Lansing with known exposure to COVID-19.

The houses include 23 fraternity and sorority houses and seven rental houses. MSU has the most new cases in the state, with 203.

As for ongoing outbreaks, state health officials reported Grand Valley State University has 438 cases among students. Central Michigan University has 271 cases among students and Adrian College has 229 cases among students and school staff. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has 77 cases among students.

 


referee shortage could pose new hurdle for high school football 

High school football games are set to kick off later this week on Friday after getting the go-ahead from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – but a potential referee shortage could be just yet another roadblock to game time.

The pool of referees is smaller this season because a lot of officials made other plans when the state announced the fall season would be moved to the spring of 2021.  Organizers are proposing some games be moved to Thursdays.  If not, some games could be postponed.

 


state launches new campaign to prevent spread of covid

The state health department Monday launched a $5 million public education campaign encouraging people to wear masks, social distance, wash their hands and get tested for the virus.

The “Spread Hope, Not COVID” campaign is funded with federal CARES Act dollars and will push public service announcements on television, social media, outdoor billboards and digital media.

The campaign is separate from the multimillion-dollar “Rona for Real” public awareness campaign launched in August by a business-backed group to educate people 18-29 years old on the risks of COVID-19.

 


Kid Rock to join Donald Trump jr. on campaign stop  

Macomb County’s very own Kid Rock will join Donald Trump Jr. in an event to promote the president’s reelection campaign Monday.

The event is taking place at Bumpers Landing Boat Club in Harrison Township at 7 p.m. This will be the second campaign event for Trump in Michigan in a week.

Monday’s event will also be general admission with doors opening at 6 p.m.

 

 


msu students asked to quarantine   

The Ingham County Health Department urged all Michigan State University students to quarantine for two weeks to halt a rapid growth in coronavirus cases linked to the campus.  There were at least 342 people affiliated with Michigan State University who have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 24TH.  The quarantine runs thru Saturday, Sept. 26 and is currently just a recommendation but may become mandatory if case counts continue to skyrocket.

 


Big ten football to return this fall?  

The Big Ten presidents were presented a comprehensive plan Sunday to conduct a fall football season, but a final decision is still to come.

The medical part of the presentation focused on what has changed since the conference postponed its entire fall sports season on Aug. 11th, including the availability of rapid-response testing.

The meeting broke up without a vote, but if they do give the green light to move ahead,

Big Ten football could kick-off as soon as the weekend of Oct. 17.

 

 


outdoor visitation to begin at nursing homes  

Visitation will be expanded at nursing homes to allow outdoor visits starting next week.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director signed the order on Thursday, which affects residents in several types of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, independent living facilities and assisted living facilities. Visitors had been severely restricted, if not barred altogether, at many such facilities during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The order, which goes into effect Tuesday, was based on a recommendation of the state nursing homes task force.

 

 

 


tuition free for front-line workers 

About 625,000 front-line workers are eligible for tuition-free college under a program created Thursday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Futures for Frontliners.

The $24 million program financed through federal CARES Act funding will help people obtain technical certificates, associate degrees and bachelor degrees. Eligibility applies to Michigan residents who have worked in an essential industry outside their home from April to June and have not already gained an associate or bachelor’s degree.

 

 

 


michigan reports nearly 1000 new cases of coronavirus  

Michigan has lost 17 more people to the novel coronavirus and 924 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Thursday’s update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Nine of these deaths were found in a regular records review to see if coronavirus was a factor into someone’s death.

The state’s totals are now 6,569 confirmed deaths and 109,519 confirmed cases.

The state has a positivity rate of 3.06%, reporting 1,013 out of 33,085 diagnostic test results returned Tuesday were positive.

 

 

 


VACCINE WILL DETERMINE WHEN CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS EASE   

Michigan will not soften its response to the coronavirus pandemic until a vaccine is produced and readily available.  That’s the message Governor Whitmer delivered to the Detroit Regional Chamber. Whitmer said her plan works.  The virus is slowing and Michigan’s economy is at 87 percent of where it was in March.

 

 

 


Michigan Supreme COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON GOVERNOR’S EMERGENCY POWERS   

The debate over the Governor’s use of emergency powers had landed in Michigan’s supreme court.  Justices heard arguments for about four hours Wednesday.  At the root of the case are discrepancies between two different laws granting the governor emergency authority. A 1976 law includes a stipulation that the legislature approves states of emergency after 28 days, while a 1945 law doesn’t set a time limit — although the 1945 law doesn’t specifically reference pandemics.

 


GOVERNOR’S APPROVAL RATING IS UP DURING THE PANDEMIC   

According to a Detroit News-WDIV poll, a majority of Michigan voters approve of Governor Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

600 voters across the state were surveyed at the beginning of September.  59% said they approve of her job performance, including a large share of the independent and Black voters. 38% of the voters disapproved. Prior to the pandemic, Whitmer had a 43% approval rating.

 

 

 


FACE COVERINGS REQUIRED FOR STUDENT ATHLETES  

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order clarifying a previous order she issued that required student-athletes participating in organized sports to wear face coverings while competing. 

The new order specifies that a face covering must be worn at all times by athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport when the athlete cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance, except for occasional and fleeting moments.  That includes football, soccer and volleyball players.  Exception will be for athletes who are swimming.

 


state launches ambassador program 

 

A new program for businesses to learn about COVID-19 safety guidelines is set to launch in Michigan.

Ambassadors will soon stop by businesses randomly to make sure the companies are doing everything needed to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

Public establishments will be the focus, which includes restaurants, bars, gyms, gas stations, convenience stores, retail stores and bowling alleys.  No citations or penalties will be issued during their visit.

 


unemployed workers to get additional funds  

 

Unemployed Michiganders will see an additional $300 per week after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 745, which appropriates $2.8 billion in supplemental funding from FEMA to assist unemployed residents.

The additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits will continue until the federal emergency disaster relief funding has been exhausted.  Eligible claimants do not have to take any action to receive the additional benefit amount provided by the program.

It is unknown how many weeks may be covered by existing funds.

 


presidential candidates visit michigan  

Joe Biden will visit Macomb County Wednesday as the Democratic presidential candidate looks to undercut President Donald Trump in a county that helped lift the Republican to victory four years ago.

The former vice president will deliver remarks in Warren at 1:15 p.m. on his plan to ensure the future is made in America by all of America’s workers

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump will deliver remarks from an airport hangar on Thursday in Freeland, which is near Saginaw.

Governor Whitmer has said she is concerned attendees at President Trump’s rally will not wear a face coverings, leading to a spike in coronavirus cases.

 

 


gyms reopen in michigan  

After several months of official closures, gyms in Michigan will reopen their doors to patrons Wednesday after being given the green light the governor to allow customers back into their facilities.

Among industries that pushed hard to reopen, gyms and fitness centers were among businesses that had to wait longest amid pandemic-related closures in Michigan.   Many safety protocols must be in place, including six feet distance between workout stations, occupancy limited to 25% capacity and all patrons must wear a mask.

 


university of michigan graduate students to strike

 

The University of Michigan Graduate Employee Organization will go on strike Tuesday as classes begin on campus, citing concerns over COVID-19 safety and policing on campus.

The union represents more than 1,000 graduate student instructors and graduate student assistants. The employees teach classes and do other work for the university.

The strike is called for four days and could be extended.

University officials say the state of Michigan prohibits public employees from striking and the University is preparing to continue operations, including classes, in the event of a strike.

 


more outbreaks reported at schools and long-term facilities 

61 new outbreaks of the Coronavirus were reported by state health officials Monday.  Three outbreaks occurred at schools, seven at colleges and 15 at long-term care facilities.

 

Coronavirus outbreaks are defined by the state as two or more cases with a link by place and time, suggesting a shared exposure outside of a household.

 

State officials say the lack of the ability to conduct effective tracing contact may result in underreporting of outbreaks.

 


 big ten football to exclude michigan teams?  

Big Ten members University of Michigan and Michigan State University could be excluded from the next football season, according to a tweet, posted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Big Ten Football is looking really good, but may lose Michigan, Illinois and Maryland because of those Governors’ ridiculous lack of interest or political support,” Trump tweeted.

The tweet comes a few days after the president said he spoke with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren about reinstating the fall season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the fall football season was postponed, some parents of football players have been protesting against the decision.

 


governor approves reopening of gyms and pools    

It’s a day business owners have been waiting for.

After months of being ordered closed due to the pandemic, Governor Whitmer has given the green light for gyms, pools, ice rinks and bowling alleys to reopen.  But it won’t be business as usual.  The businesses must follow strict protocols, including limiting capacity.  Bowling Alleys and ice rinks may only open for organized sports.

 

 


 high school sports resume in michigan   

High school sports are officially back in Michigan, even football.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association received clearance from Governor Whitmer allowing for sports to move forward, including football.

Facial coverings are required for all sports except for swimming and diving. Spectator limits of two per participant will be enforced for outdoor and indoor events.

 

With the reinstatement of the fall football season, teams can begin practicing Sept. 8, and then in full pads starting Sept. 10. The six-week regular season will begin Sept. 18.

 


governor extends state of emergency  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s state of emergency declaration to Oct. 1ST.  The previous order was set to expire Friday. Whitmer said in a statement that with the number of coronavirus cases growing, the virus remains a real threat to Michigan residents. In early August, every region in Michigan saw an uptick in new cases which recently put Michigan past the 100,000 COVID-19 cases mark.  The state’s percent positivity remains below the national average: in Michigan, 3.3 percent of all COVID-19 tests administered were positive, whereas nationally it was 6.1 percent.

The state of emergency declaration allows state governors to make executive orders that affected the entire state. 

 


waiting game continues on decision to reopen businesses  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had no good news to announce Wednesday for owners of gyms, theaters, bowling alleys and ice hockey rinks who are anxious to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.  The Governor said she will have more to say on the topic very soon.  Whitmer also indicated she may be making an announcement regarding sports as well.

 


college students launch coalition for safe reopening   

Students from several Michigan colleges have come together to launch a statewide coalition that demands a safe reopening for college campuses.

The “Not MI Campus Statewide Coalition” consists of students from Albion College, Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, Oakland University and all three University of Michigan campuses.

The group has petitions circulating on each campus with a variety of demands, including online learning options, guaranteed protections for employees and safe housing for students.

 


court rules in favor of order mandating covid-19 testing of farmworkers  

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday in favor of the state order mandating coronavirus testing for all farmworkers in Michigan. The court’s decision was cheered by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and immigrant advocates who say the order protects farmworkers, most of whom are Latino immigrants.

The Michigan Farm Bureau, a group that represents farm owners and supported the lawsuit against the state order claims the state order is causing hardship for farms and immigrant farmworkers because the workers don’t want to be tested.

 


steroids help covid-19 patients  

New studies confirm that multiple types of steroids improve survival for severely ill COVID-19.

Steroid drugs are inexpensive, widely available and have been used for decades. They reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in coronavirus patients as the immune system overreacts to fight the infection.  In one study, deaths were cut by up to 35%, however the treatment did not help less sick patients.

 


state to begin posting schools with covid-19 outbreaks  

Michigan families will know if there are COVID-19 outbreaks at their K-12 schools beginning Sept. 14.

The information will be updated once a week on the state’s coronavirus information page and will include the name of the school, location and the number of confirmed cases.

However, right now, outbreaks on colleges are not going to be included.

The state considers a COVID-19 “outbreak” as two or more cases “with a link by place and time indicating a shared exposure outside of a household.

 


state allows driving schools to hold virtual classes 

Driving schools have been approved to conduct virtual Segment 1 and 2 class sessions beginning in September for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.  Virtual classes, which must be taught in conjunction with behind-the-wheel lessons, will be restricted to up to 20 students with one instructor.  There has been a backlog of students waiting to get their driver’s license due to the pandemic.

 


gm and ford getting out of ventilator business  

Detroit doctor's idea could save lives during pandemic

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are exiting the ventilator business, turning their focus back to the car business.

Both automakers have fulfilled the terms of the contracts they had with the federal government to make the life-saving machines.

Ford made 50,000 ventilators, while GM made 30,000.

GM is still making face masks. The company said it will donate 2 million face masks to Michigan public schools as part of the State of Michigan’s MI Mask Aid partnership.

 

 

 


governor expected to give green light to reopen more businesses  

Fitness centers, theaters, bowling alleys, ice rinks and related facilities — ordered closed for more than five months during the coronavirus pandemic — are expected to get the OK this week from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen after the Labor Day holiday.

The businesses and facilities would be subject to social distancing and sanitation safety protocols and new requirements intended to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an infection.

It’s still unknown if the Governor plans to address other venues, such as convention centers, concert venues and minor league baseball parks.

 


governor expected to give green light to reopen more businesses  

Fitness centers, theaters, bowling alleys, ice rinks and related facilities — ordered closed for more than five months during the coronavirus pandemic — are expected to get the OK this week from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen after the Labor Day holiday.

The businesses and facilities would be subject to social distancing and sanitation safety protocols and new requirements intended to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an infection.

It’s still unknown if the Governor plans to address other venues, such as convention centers, concert venues and minor league baseball parks.

 

 


task force urges changes to covid-19 nursing home policies  

A task force appointed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is recommending changes to the state’s policies for nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in the recommendations, limiting sending COVID-19 positive individuals to nursing homes that don’t have a history of caring for residents with the virus and creating “Care and Recovery Centers”.  About 32% of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths have been nursing home residents.


usda extends flexible school lunch program  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it was reversing course and would extend the flexible free school meals program helping to keep millions of kids fed amid the pandemic.  Some of the options granted to meal providers over the summer, including flexibility to allow parents to collect free meals at any school, even without the children present, had been set to expire at the start of September.

It’s estimated some 800,000 children in Michigan “get their only meals at school.”

 


beaumont resumes normal visitor hours  

Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills, is loosening its restrictions on visitors, implemented Aug. 13 because of an increase in COVID-19 cases.   Since that time, the hospital has seen a reduction in the number of new cases among family members, staff and patients, Beaumont said in a release.   Effective Monday, Aug. 31, the Farmington Hills campus has changed the visitation policy back to the one in effect at other Beaumont Health sites.

 


 u-m to begin in person classes  

 

In person classes resume today at the University of Michigan, with new safety precautions.

Any person entering campus buildings will be required to do a self-check for COVID-19 symptoms and answer a brief set of questions thru an app.

For students who test positive or have to be quarantined, the university has set aside rooms to keep them isolated from others on the campus.


brooksie way goes virtual  

 

The 13th running of the McLaren Brooksie Way Half Marathon, 10k and 5k races is just around the corner and this year it comes with the twist.

This year’s version of the race, which includes a half marathon, 10k, 5k and Lil’ Brooksie Fun Run, will be virtual. Runners and walkers may complete their chosen race anytime and anywhere within two weeks of Sept. 27 when the race was to begin at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre.  Race participants will receive finisher medals, runner bibs and race shirts, which will be available race week or will be mailed after the race.

The Brooksie Way was created by longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson in memory of his son Brooks Stuart Patterson, who died in 2007 after a snowmobiling accident


oakland county to match grants for musicians  

 

Oakland County is stepping up with $500,000 in matching grants for musicians performing in drive-in concerts in Royal Oak and virtual shows online during Labor Day weekend.  Nearly all work for the 500 individual professional musicians, among others, has been canceled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Royal Oak was canceled this Labor Day weekend because of the pandemic and replaced with a smaller “The Beats Go On” event of drive-in and virtual musical performances.

 


teacher union calling for more transparency in covid-19 outreaks 

Michigan’s largest teachers union is demanding more transparency from districts about COVID-19 cases, amid confusion and frustration about state health laws that err on the side of privacy even amid a pandemic.

Last week, Michigan acknowledged at least 14 COVID-19 outbreaks at state schools and universities, but state and local state health officials and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have resisted calls to release details.

The Michigan Education Association, which represents about 120,000 educators in Michigan is pushing for transparency, saying safety trumps privacy.

 


rally at capitol to push for return of high school sports 

 

Those calling for high school sports competitions to resume this fall in Michigan will gather at the State Capitol on Friday for a rally.

#LetThemPlay, a high school athletic support organization, plans to address the “importance of high school sports to the youth of our community.”

The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced this month that the fall football season will move to spring, due to the sport’s higher risk for spreading COVID-19.  The rally will be held at the Capitol from 4 to 7 p.m.

 


Oakland County to provide free covid-19 testing for students 

Oakland County announced that it will expand its free drive-thru COVID-19 testing to include kids ages 4-17 beginning Aug. 31. The children must have symptoms to qualify, and must be residents of Oakland County or attend school in the county. Parents can begin scheduling testing appointments for their children beginning Thursday through the Oakland County Health Division’s Nurse on Call hotline at 800-848-5533.  No doctor’s note or prescription is needed.

 


michigan nears coronavirus 100,000 case mark 

Nearly 100,000 cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in Michigan as of Thursday morning, according to the most recent data provided by state health officials.  Michigan added 758 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the statewide virus case total to 99,958. The state also reported 16 more deaths being attributed to the coronavirus, increasing the death toll in Michigan to 6,440.

 


doj  request covid-19 data on michigan nursing homes  

The U.S. Department of Justice wants Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and three other states governed by Democrats to turn over data related to nursing homes and COVID-19 deaths.

The governor agreed to provide the data, but blasted the request, labeling it a politics.

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Michigan have been hit hard by COVID-19.  Over 8,100 residents have been infected, and 2,000 have died.

 


clock ticking for some school sports  

Time is running out if there is going to be boys soccer, volleyball and girls swimming this fall in Michigan.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association needs approval from Governor Whitmer to allow the sports to proceed. The three sports are permitted in the Upper Peninsula and northern lower Michigan, however, the rest of the state continues to play the waiting game.

The MHSAA already has postponed the football season to the spring.

 


Oakland County announces grant program to support schools  

Oakland County will launch a $28 million grant program on Thursday to support schools countywide in preparing for safe reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.   The Oakland Together Schools COVID-19 Support Program will support public and charter schools‘ plans for a safe reopening. This will bring the county’s total support for schools to $30 million.

To date, Oakland County has created nine grant programs using federal CARES Act dollars to help small businesses, low-income residents, local governments, manufacturers making PPE, veterans, and renters.

 


 “rona for real” campaign launched 

A business-backed group has launched a public awareness campaign to educate young people in Michigan about the seriousness of COVID-19. The multimillion-dollar campaign, which is being financially supported by the DTE Energy Foundation and other companies, will include a website — www.Rona4Real.com, billboards, advertisements and merchandise. The efforts focused on a sunglasses-wearing animated character named “Rona,” which is the nickname some people have given the coronavirus.

 


governor says she won’t be bullied into reopening businesses

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had no announcements Tuesday on when gyms, theaters, bowling alleys and other Michigan businesses that have been closed about six months because of the coronavirus will be allowed to reopen, and said she is “not going to be bullied” into announcing such changes before it is safe to do so.  Whitmer said she will continue to make decisions based on facts and data.

Michigan is one of only a handful of states that have not allowed those sectors to open in any capacity.

 


 college professors make plea for remote learning

Michigan Residents Applying for Unemployment in Record Numbers

More than 200 professors from colleges across the state have signed an open letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asking her to order Michigan colleges and universities to teach most classes online only.

The letter acknowledges that some courses, such as labs, can’t transition online as easily. In those cases, the letter asks Whitmer to order COVID-19 testing requirements, contact tracing and quarantining.  Outbreaks have been reported at colleges as students return to campus.

 


dso returns to orchestra hall

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will take the Orchestra Hall stage Sept. 10 for a program of classical music — first in a series of Thursday and Friday night performances to be streamed live through year’s end.

For now, there will be no audiences present, though the DSO says limited tickets may become available at some point, pending Michigan health guidelines.

 


state offers coronavirus tracker online

The state introduced its new online outbreak tracker. The data set, which is expected to be updated weekly, provides a closer look at which areas have most recently seen COVID-19 outbreaks. The information lists the outbreaks by region, but does not offer specific locations.

An outbreak is generally defined as an instance in which two or more cases are linked by a place and time, indicating a shared exposure outside of a household.

 


republican national convention kicks off  

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, who lives in Michigan and is a former state party chair, helped kick off the first night of the GOP’s convention with remarks Monday night.

McDaniel was the only person from Michigan to take the stage, but Michigan, Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James was featured in a pre-recorded video.

Republicans say the convention will focus on hopeful themes of positivity. Trump won Michigan by only 10,704 votes in 2016.

 


isabella county declares health emergency

Isabella County, home to Central Michigan University, has declared a health emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to grow after large parties by students.

County data shows that in the third week of August there was a 350% increase in the number of COVID-19.  92% of reported cases were among those aged 18 to 24,

The order means the size of allowable outdoor social gatherings will shrink from 100  to 25, while indoor gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people. At any gathering, social distancing must remain in place and face masks must be worn.

 


Ann Arbor enancts emergency order

With concerns about the potential for another surge in COVID-19 cases as college students return, Ann Arbor City Council took action Monday night to enact an emergency ordinance  to make clear the city’s rules and expectations regarding face masks and restrictions on social gatherings amid the pandemic.The ordinance requires anyone who is less than six feet from another person who is not a family member or of the same household to wear a face covering at any indoor public place and any outdoor place. Violations of the requirements are considered a public nuisance.  Violation of the city ordinance is a civil infraction with a penalty fine up to $250.

In Ypsilanti, Eastern Michigan University announced it would postpone move-in by three weeks and start classes online only

 


Michigan reports more than 850 additional  coronavirus cases

Michigan reported 868 new confirmed coronavirus cases and four new deaths Monday, Aug. 24, logging the second-highest number of cases in the past seven days.  This new number brings the total number of August cases to 15,173, with an average of 582 cases per day over the week.  Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan has recorded 97,660 cases and 6,397 deaths.   Governor Whitmer is scheduled to give an update on the state’s response and efforts to combat the virus at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

 


back to school learning pods

As the school year approaches, some parents are turning to so-called “learning pods” to help with their child’s education.

The pods typically are made of three to seven children, often in the same neighborhood, as a way to help working parents secure reliable childcare.  It also gives kids a break from computer screens and the ability to interact with peers.

There is concern though that learning pods could be widening the opportunity gap because some parents can’t afford to hire tutors or a nanny to oversee the group.

 


coronavirus case surge could force cmu to go remote 

38 students tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of the first week of classes at Central Michigan University.  University officials issued a warning to students to stop throwing large parties or the college could be forced to switch to remote learning. Following the surge in cases, students were warned they could face fines or even suspension from school if they attend large parties.

 


 Michigan State fair goes virtual 

The 2020 Michigan State Fair will not be held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, but instead will be offered in a virtual format.  The fair will be held Sept. 3-7 as a free online event. It will include hourly social media posts of interactive contests, activities, live demonstrations, performances, historical and educational features, and more.


coronavirus outbreaks reported at more than a dozen michigan schools 

14 coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at schools this month in southern and eastern Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been gathering case counts in schools including K-12 sites and universities, however the department is not publicly disclosing the schools involved.

Health departments will work closely with schools to make sure anyone who is at risk of exposure is notified and the proper procedures are in place and parents whose children are at risk are notified.

 


popular fall festival cancelled due to coronavirus

The Michigan Renaissance Festival of Holly is canceled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The annual fall festival recreates a fictional English village of the 16th century.  Jim Peterson, owner of the festival made the announcement, Wednesday, on the Michigan Renaissance Festival website.  Organizers plan to hold the event in 2021 and will honor all 2020 tickets.  The 2021 event is scheduled for Aug. 21 through Oct. 3 on weekends, Labor Day, and Oct. 1.

 


michigan hospitals to continue to use convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus, despite fda delay

Michigan hospitals will keep using convalescent plasma to treat certain COVID-19 patients — they’ll just have to keep jumping through certain hoops to do it. That’s after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reportedly delayed authorizing the experimental treatment for “emergency use.”

That authorization — if it is eventually granted — would essentially allow doctors to use the treatment in COVID-19 patients more widely, without having to meet certain requirements, like enrolling them in one of several ongoing clinical trials.

Many doctors and researchers are hopeful about the treatment, which has been used for more than 100 years to treat a host of illnesses, in part because it’s seen as relatively low risk.

 


michigan adds more than 400 additional coronavirus cases to tally

Michigan recorded 19 additional deaths and 419 cases from the novel coronavirus Thursday.

The deaths include 11 that were identified during a delayed records review, the state said.

The state’s overall case tally reached 94,697 and the death count hit 6,368, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In the past seven days, the state added 95 deaths and 3,740 cases due to the virus.

 


governor to review reopening of still closed businesses

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to reevaluate policies that have kept some Michigan businesses closed nearly five months after she initially ordered a stay-home mandate.

Among the businesses still closed in the lower regions of Michigan are bowling alleys, fitness centers and movie theaters.

An announcement on her decision could come as soon as next week.

 


michigan doctors in power fight; health emergency ends with vaccine

A group of Michigan public health experts have advised the state Court of Appeals to uphold Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s unilateral powers to combat COVID-19 and says the “health emergency” presented by the virus will continue until there’s a vaccine.

The group of doctors and epidemiologists filed a brief in June in the ongoing legal fight between the GOP-controlled Michigan Legislature and Whitmer June over whether her actions violated the separation of powers in government.

The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered the Court of Appeals to rule by Friday.

 


65 million allocated to help schools

Michigan schools with the most need are now eligible for $60 million in additional federal coronavirus relief funds, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday.

An additional $5 million will be available for other education entities, including universities, in the ongoing battle to educate students while keeping them safe from the coronavirus.

The aid must be used to further the education and well-being of students and staff, and schools and districts that need the money the most will be prioritized.

The funds come from the federal CARES Act and are allocated through the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief fund.

 


 outdoor gatherings restricted in  ann arbor and ypsilanti

Outdoor gatherings in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have been restricted to 25 people as both communities prepare to welcome students back to local college campuses during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Washtenaw County Health Department issued the order, which is more strict than the number of people allowed to gather outside through a statewide executive order. Indoor gatherings remain limited at 10 or fewer people not of the same household,

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20 and remains in effect indefinitely.

Violators of the order could be fined up to $200 and face a misdemeanor with up to six months in prison

 

 


 michigan request additional unemployment benefits

Michigan is asking the federal government to provide jobless residents with $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits to replace the $600 per week pandemic bonus that expired in late July.

Unable to reach an agreement with Congress on another federal relief package, President Trump signed an executive order to make extra unemployment funding available through the Federal Disaster Relief Fund.

If approved by FEMA, it’s not clear how long it would take the Michigan Unemployment Agency to make the benefit available to residents.

 

 


 msu switches to remote learning 

Michigan State University is switching its fall class schedule to remote learning and has asked students who planned to live in dorms to stay home.

In a public letter to the MSU community, MSU’s President said the current status of the coronavirus pandemic, including recent outbreaks at other universities, caused the change in plans.

MSU originally had planned for a hybrid learning model of in person and online classes in the fall.

 

 


 u-m staff protest students returning to classroom

Some University of Michigan faculty and staff members protested in person learning, saying its not safe to have students living together, especially crammed into student apartments across Ann Arbor. They worry about parties and students bringing in COVID-19  from across the country.

The university says about 70% of its classes will be offered with some sort of remote option when classes start Aug 31st.

 

 


 michigan football parents join letter writing campaign

 

Parents of University of Michigan players have written a letter to Big Ten’s commissioner and the University president with a list of demands — including that college football be played this fall.

The group of parents has joined a letter-writing campaign with parents from other Big Ten schools.

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields released a petition asking the Big Ten to reverse its decision. It garnered over 200,000 signatures on the first day.

 


 michigan takes center stage at democratic national convention

 

The Democratic National Convention kicked off on Monday night.  The COVID-19 pandemic changed convention protocol. Despite that, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was one of the first speakers network television picked up.  Whitmer had about 5 minutes of speaking time in which she mostly focused on the coronavirus crisis.  It wasn’t her speech at the podium that sent social media a buzz.  Prior to her national televised speech, the Governor was caught in a “hot mic” moment saying “It’s not just shark week, but shark week (expletive)”.

 

 


  michigan may sue federal government over postal delays

 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is exploring ways to sue the federal government over United States Postal Service delays that some say could impact the November election.

 

Whitmer’s administration is in discussion with other states about a multi-state lawsuit to “ensure that the U.S. Postal Service is aggressive in its efforts to ensure that absentee ballots are delivered to local clerks offices in time to be counted.”

 

Democrats accuse the Trump administration of slowing mail to give the Republican president an advantage in the November election, claims the President denies.

 

 


 concerns grow as college students return to campus

 

Students are beginning to arrive at university campuses throughout Michigan for the fall term. So too are their college parties and dorm life that could spread Covid-19.

 

Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant just celebrated its welcome weekend.  A picture posted in the school newspaper shows at least one large gathering without masks and with little social distancing.

University officials across the state have put measures in place to try and safely return students to campus.

 


 new coronavirus cases continue to plateau in michigan

 

Michigan added 465 new cases of coronavirus and one death on Monday.

This brings the state’s total COVID-19 cases to 93,185 and deaths to 6,325.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also reported 9,539 probable cases of the virus and 268 probable deaths.

The lower daily count of the virus is in stark contrast to the previous week’s daily tallies, when the number of cases trended upward to an average of 700.

The state attributed the high number of daily cases to larger than usual test returns

 


 lawmakers announce deal for upcoming school year

 

State lawmakers announced a new deal regarding the upcoming school year to help get students safely back to class under the Return to Learn plan.

In-person learning will not be required.  The bills passed Saturday in the state Senate, with the House planning to vote on Monday.

The agreement gives each district local control while getting financial help and while encouraging oversight with benchmark assessments.


 democratic national convention kicks off monday

 

Governor Whitmer Coronavirus Update

The Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday, although it will be much different to years past.  The ongoing threat of the coronavirus forced the DNC to transition to a virtual national convention. Starting this week, Michigan’s 147 delegates will participate in virtual meetings with Democrats from across the country, discussing party positions and building momentum to use as fall campaigns ramp up.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and autoworker Gerald Lang, who works at GM’s Orion Assembly plant as a team leader and is also vice president of UAW Local 5960, are scheduled to speak at the convention.

 


 After spike, number of coronavirus cases drops in michigan

 

Michigan reported 565 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and six new deaths attributed to COVID-19 Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.  This comes after a three-day period that saw an average of 961 cases per day.   The state now has a total of 92,720 confirmed cases and 6,324 deaths.  Michigan has now performed nearly 2.59 million total coronavirus tests.

 

 


  governor & gop close to deal on plan to reopen schools

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature are negotiating a plan that would allow Michigan school districts to choose to offer in-person, remote or hybrid instruction this fall.

Whitmer and GOP leaders are still ironing out details that could be announced as soon as Friday, but multiple sources familiar with the talks tell Bridge the package is expected to eliminate a House-approved requirement that districts at least offer in-person classes to K-5 students.

With restart dates fast approaching, Whitmer and GOP leaders are working to finalize the legislation ahead of a rare Saturday session scheduled in the state Senate. If approved there, the House would likely vote on the plan in a rare Monday session

 


 audit slams oversight of remote learning

As hundreds of thousands of Michigan schoolchildren gear up for “all virtual” classes amid the coronavirus pandemic, an audit found the state can’t guarantee their effectiveness.

The report from the Michigan Office of the Inspector General sharply criticized the state’s handling of existing online courses, saying education officials don’t have enough information on student performance and attendance of virtual classes.

Without changes, auditors said there is a “potential negative impact that the absence of a well-developed evaluation strategy could have on advancing the achievement of virtual learners in traditional public schools.”

 


  fda denies henry ford’s request to use hydroxychloroquine 

Weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, saying the drug doesn’t help coronavirus patients and has potentially dangerous side effects, Henry Ford Health System filed for permission to continue using it.

The request came after Henry Ford published a study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases that suggested hydroxychloroquine slashed the COVID-19 death rate in half. The peer-reviewed observational study contradicted other published reports that showed the drug doesn’t help coronavirus patients and could cause heart rhythm problems in some people.

The FDA denied Henry Ford’s request this week.

 


  more than 1100 new coronavirus cases reported 

 

Michigan recorded 16 deaths and 1,121 cases from the novel coronavirus Thursday,

the highest-single day case total since May.

The Thursday deaths include nine that were identified later during a records review, according to the state.

The state’s overall case tally reached 90,392 and the death count hit 6,289, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The pandemic had its largest recorded case spike on May 12, when the state recorded 1,600 new cases.

 


  state to send postcards to registered voters

Michigan is sending postcards to more than 4 million registered voters, encouraging them to apply to vote absentee in the November election. The state also plans to spend millions in order to reimburse local cities that offer pre-paid return envelopes for absentee ballots.

The moves are the latest by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to advocate for casting a ballot before Election Day, an initiative aimed at increasing voter participation while preventing the spread of the coronavirus. More than 1.6 million voters used absentee ballots for the August primary, more than any other election in state history.

 


  fall favorite cider mill to stay closed  

A popular Michigan cider mill will not open this fall because of the pandemic.

Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill won’t open “because the Covid-19 pandemic has presented too many public health obstacles for us to operate safely,” according to a posting on its Facebook page.

“We believe that opening this year would be risky for our cider mill team, and our cider mill guests.”

The mill said it made the decision with “a heavy heart” and that it is the first time the mill will have closed its doors in the more than 35 years since it has been open.

On Wednesday, Michigan recorded nine deaths and 517 cases from the novel coronavirus. The state’s overall tally reached 89,271 and the death count hit 6,273, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

 


  beaumont health tightens visitor hours 

Beaumont Health announced it will no longer allow visitors to its Farmington Hills hospital because of a rise in novel coronavirus cases at that campus.

“Over the past few days, we have had multiple staff, patients and visitors test positive for COVID-19. That’s why, out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily restricting visitors at our Farmington Hills campus,” said Mark Geary, a spokesman for Beaumont Health.

Starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, no visitors will be allowed in the rooms of patients who have COVID-19 or those who are awaiting test results except at end of life or other extreme circumstances.

 


 push to revamp michigan’s bottle deposit law

Michigan’s ten-cent deposit law on beer, pop and other bottles and cans, enacted in 1976, has been wildly successful in getting those receptacles recycled, but those involved in making, distributing and collecting those bottles and cans say the law needs revamping.

Organizations, including the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, want a greater portion of the revenues from unredeemed bottle and can deposits to go to recycling programs, beverage distributors and police to help stop deposit fraud. But the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) officials say doing so would take already insufficient funding away from programs to clean up contaminated sites statewide.

Total refunds in Michigan have ranged from $346 million to $425 million per year since 2000, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

More than $80 million in bottles and cans accumulated unreturned in people’s closets and garages during the COVID stoppage, and some of those returnables were likely discarded in trash as people ran out of room, industry representatives said.

 


 big 10 football postponed; is high school next?

In the wake of the Big Ten announcement that the upcoming fall sports season has been postponed, attention is turning to high school sports.

Michigan High School Athletic Association media and content coordinator Geoff Kimmerly said moves at the college level doesn’t mean high schools will follow suit.

“We are paying attention at what’s happening at the college level, but we don’t feel pressured by what’s happening at the college level. Our game in terms of who we play and how close those schools are and how close the majority of opponents are is really a lot different from what happens at the college level.”

The MHSAA is expected to have a decision about the 2020 fall season for moderate-to-high risk sports, including football, boys soccer and volleyball by Aug. 20.

High school football season is scheduled to kick off Aug. 27-29.

 


 bipartisan plan in the works to safely reopen schools

Michigan lawmakers are working with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on a new bipartisan legislative package that would provide the framework for how schools can safely educate students this fall.

The plan is tentatively set for a vote Saturday during a rare weekend session of the state Senate, with expectations for the House to adopt the same proposal on Monday.

The compromise efforts come as Michigan educators and families seek clarity and many districts scramble to find the safest way to welcome back students during a pandemic at thousands of schools that are supposed to start in several weeks.

 


workers at some area nursing homes planning to strike

Employees at 17 nursing homes across metro Detroit will go on strike Aug. 17 over what they say are unfair working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 1,600 workers are demanding their employers address staffing shortages, provide adequate personal protective equipment and pay workers a living wage, according to the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan.

As of Aug. 9,   Michigan has reported 3,801  cases of coronavirus — and 21 deaths — among nursing home employees, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.  Among nursing home residents, there have been 7,708 cases of coronavirus and 2,022 deaths.

 


nearly 800 new coronavirus cases in michigan

Michigan reported 796 new confirmed cases of coronavirus Tuesday, Aug. 11, with 7 COVID-19 deaths reported.

This is the highest single-day increase in all of August so far, and the biggest number of new cases since Wednesday, July 9, which saw 996 confirmed cases. The State has performed 2.4 million total tests.

According to Michigan’s coronavirus-tracking site, the state’s current totals are now at 88,756 confirmed cases, with 6,264 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Michigan remains 18th in the U.S. for coronavirus cases.


gun sales surge during pandemic

Gun sales are up around the country. Gun retailers saw a 95% increase in firearm sales and a 139% increase in ammunition sales in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2019, according to National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The survey of the foundation’s members also found that between mid-March and May, women accounted for over 40% of their customers.

Those working in the gun industry say the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is spurring increased interest in gun ownership. Some firearm owners believe the upcoming presidential election and the need to assert gun rights contribute, too.


bowling centers file lawsuit demanding to reopen

 

The Bowling Centers Association of Michigan is taking a strike at Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Members say their industry is suffering a huge loss after ordered closed in March.

“If we can’t open on September one or sometime very shortly thereafter, it’s going to be very difficult for a lot of our industry members to stay afloat,” said Michael Shearer, President of the Bowling Centers of Michigan.  BCAM represents 165 bowling alleys across the state.


big ten college football season in jeopardy 

The Big Ten is expected to make another decision on its college football season today, but the impact of it could vary widely, as league presidents are considering pushing back the start of the season to Sept. 26 or postponing it to the spring, a conference source told ESPN.

The presidents are expected to meet today and although they are still considering becoming the first Power 5 conference to postpone fall sports, the majority of their athletic directors aren’t ready to “pull the plug”.

While the most likely options seem to be pushing back the start of the season or postponing until the spring, it’s certainly possible they wind up somewhere in between.


Governor vetoes bill to give healthcare workers legal immunity during state of emergency

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed legislation that would have shielded healthcare providers from lawsuits for care provided during a state of emergency claiming the bill would unnecessarily endanger patients.

The legislation, Senate Bill 899, would have granted healthcare providers and facilities immunity from civil or criminal lawsuits for injury or death during a state of emergency unless they engaged in criminal misconduct or intentionally harmed a patient.

The bill would have also retroactively applied immunity to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which started March 10.

In her veto letter, Whitmer acknowledged her action to invoke liability protections for certain healthcare providers at one point in the COVID-19 pandemic as new cases were surging.

But she took issue with Senate Bill 899 automatically extending immunity to healthcare providers and facilities anytime a state of emergency is declared without consideration for whether such a measure was necessary.


lawmakers investigate postal delays

US Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan and postal workers are accusing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy of forcing workers to leave their work unfinished in order to slow down mail service.

Those delays come as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and looks ahead to the presidential election.

Postmaster DeJoy is firing back, saying “Drama and delay does not get the mail delivered on time, nor does it pay our bills. Without timely legislative and regulatory reform, we will be forced to take aggressive measures to cut costs and bridge the divide,”

The USPS reported a net loss of $2.2 billion in the third quarter of the 2020 fiscal year ending June 30.


school districts struggle to finalize back to school plans 

Michigan will not have a uniform, statewide K-12 reopening plan this school year for its 544 Michigan traditional school districts and nearly 300 public school academies.

The first day of school for 1.5 million children will look different in every district in Michigan, where hundreds of different reopening plans will soon be underway as educators resume teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because districts have local control, each district is coming up with its own plan using guidance from the governor’s executive order on reopening schools, with some districts opening classrooms to students as early as Aug. 26.

traditional school districts and nearly 300 public school academies.

As more districts announce their intentions this month — all districts must have a plan approved and in place by Aug. 17th.


more teens testing positive for coronavirus

Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, It’s been a summer of unofficial proms, grad parties, sleepovers, yard parties, gatherings at the lake and just hanging out with friends for area teens.

The problem is, health officials say, mask wearing and social distancing went out the window. Now, they are seeing the number of positive COVID-19 cases in younger people on the rise in Michigan as well as spots across the United States and the world.

Before June, children and teens mostly made up 1% to 3% of COVID-19 cases in Michigan. A month after the order lifted, July 1, that age group made up 3.9% of the cases. During the past two weeks, from July 21 to Aug. 7, the age group saw an increase in cases of almost 2 percentage points: 5.7% to 7.4%.


michigan reports more than 500 additional cases of coronavirus 

The state of Michigan reported 514 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday with two additional deaths.

Sunday’s update brings the state’s total number of cases to 87,403 and total number of deaths to 6,249.

The total number of deaths were reduced by one by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. According to the site, three deaths that were previously reported were corrected by local health jurisdictions.

“These cases may have been recorded as deceased in error or jurisdictions may have received additional information indicating previously reported deaths were determined to not be COVID-19 associated,” the department posted online.


oakland county reminding testing sites to report results promptly

Urgent cares, pharmacies and doctors’ offices are urged to promptly report Oakland County residents COVID-19 test results to the Oakland County Health Division. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Section 18115 requires that molecular (PCR or Abbott ID NOW) and antigen test results must be reported within 24 hours of test completion through existing public health reporting methods.

 

“Swift reporting of test results detecting COVID-19 is essential to reducing the spread of the disease so that our region does not take a step back in the governor’s reopening plan,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We urge all our urgent cares, pharmacies and medical providers to follow these guidelines, so each positive case is immediately investigated, and contacts identified.”

The CARES Act requires facilities or locations performing testing to report data for all diagnostic testing completed, for each individual tested, within 24 hours of results being known.


GOVERNOR WHITMER EXPANDS MASK ORDER TO INCLUDE YOUNG CHILDREN

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has adjusted her mask-wearing executive order to require kids over four years of age to wear masks in all indoor public spaces and encouraging all kids over two years old to wear masks when indoors.

Additionally, in child-care settings such as camps, staff and children above twelve years old are required to wear masks in indoor places such as cabins.

Governor Whitmer said that these changes align with other guidelines for facial coverings in schools. These adjusted requirements go into effect on Monday, August 10. Facial coverings such as masks remain a recommendation in Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula regions 6 and 8.


ATTORNEY GENERAL NESSEL LOOKS INTO COVID-19 COMPLIANCE OF NURSING HOMES

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is cracking down on violations and non-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines and regulations for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

With one-third of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths stemming from nursing home residents, Nessel said, in an article from the Detroit News, “my office is prepared to continue our role of enforcing the law as this virus lingers and as Michigan’s most vulnerable populations remain at risk.

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will forward violations and complaints to Attorney General Nessel’s office for review and any necessary punishments as a result of violations of COVID-19 safety guidelines.


LOCAL GYMS defy executive orders and remain open

Despite being on the list of categories of businesses not permitted to be open under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-110, multiple Powerhouse Gyms in metropolitan Detroit have remained open, including one location in West Bloomfield Township that has received multiple communications to cease operations, per the letter of the law.

West Bloomfield Township Supervisor Steve Kaplan, in an article from the West Bloomfield Beacon’s Mark Vest, said that the Township’s responses from the local Powerhouse Gym were “essentially, it’s thank you for your input.”

Oakland County spokesperson, Bill Mullen, says that the County is aware of the West Bloomfield and other locations that are open in violation of the law, and have notified these businesses (copying Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel) and says that enforcement ultimately “rests with the State of Michigan.”


30 % of michigangers reluctant to take free covid-19 vaccine for trial

An EPIC-MRA poll, conducted for Bridge Michigan of 600 “active and likely voters,” approximately 30% of those polled said that would either “probably” or “definitely” not get vaccinated if a vaccine was developed and made available for free to the general public, with 66% stating that they “probably” or “definitely” would get the vaccine, among those who answered the same question.

Additionally, among those surveyed, just under 50% expressed concerns about the vaccine being rushed and “not sufficiently tested,” with one person surveyed being quoted in the Bridge Michigan article saying, “as much as I wish the vaccine was the miracle we’re all hoping for, it is being rushed.”

Phase 3 vaccine trials have begun for multiple potential COVID-19 vaccines, including the Moderna mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) vaccine study, which includes participation from Henry Ford Health System.


Senator Peters Opens Investigation into Postal Service Cuts

Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who also serves as the top-ranking democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has opened an investigation into cuts to the U.S. Postal Services, as delays in processing and delivery of mail have continued to be issues across the nation.

On Thursday, Peters encouraged people to contact his office regarding issues in the delivery of mail and, as quoted in an article in the Detroit Free Press by Todd Spangler, said that he would be “working to get to the bottom of any changes that the new Postmaster General may be directing that undercut the Postal Service’s tradition of effective service.”

Many clerks, including Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, had recently encouraged voters to hand deliver their absentee ballots to their local clerks as the August primary election approached, concerned that those votes would not be counted if delivered beyond the poll closing deadline on election day.

About 2.5 million people voted by absentee ballots in Tuesday’s primary election, and initial statistics show that about 10,000 ballots were rejected, although it is unclear at this time how many were rejected due to late arrival to their local clerks.


health department orders mortgage company to enforce measures to stop spread of covid-19

Oakland County health officials are ordering United Shore mortgage company in Pontiac to enforce social distancing and other measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 after more than 50 workers were confirmed to have the virus.

In an emergency order dated Tuesday, Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford told the mortgage company her division had received complaints that United Shore was violating a statewide executive order that requires masks to be worn over the mouth and nose when in an indoor space.

The company must develop a plan to manage and control distancing, ensure employees are wearing facial coverings, implement a daily screening process and sick policy, as well as encourage working from home.

Failure to comply is a misdemeanor punishable by up to than six months in jail or a fine of $200 a day, according to the order.


new cases of coronavirus plateau in michigan

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 84,707 as of Wednesday, including 6,221 deaths, state officials report.

Michigan officials reported 657 new confirmed cases and two additional deaths.

New cases have plateaued in the last two weeks, while deaths remain flat in Michigan. Testing has remained steady, with an average of more than 25,000 per day, with the positive rate between 3 and 4 percent. Hospitalizations have increased slightly, but remain considerably lower than in April.


first michigan patients receive      covid-19 vaccine

Volunteers are singing up to help find a cure to COVID-19.  The first 20 patients received injections at Henry Ford Health System headquarters in Detroit as part of the Moderna mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) vaccine study. Half received the vaccine. Half received a placebo.

The Moderna vaccine was developed in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has now entered Phase 3 clinical trials in the race to develop a safe and effective vaccine for novel coronavirus.

Thousands of people have already volunteered for the Henry Ford study of the Moderna vaccine, but more volunteers are needed.  To sign up, go to: www.HenryFord.com/ModernaVaccine.


election results still being tallied across the state

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson estimates unofficial election results should be complete by mid-day Wednesday, celebrating what she called a successful election under unusual circumstances while calling for additional legislative reform.

Benson called the election process “a great success” overall and said elections officials are prepared for November in terms of hosting clean and safe polling locations during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring absentee ballots are properly counted.

But she reiterated her calls for the legislature to allow clerks to pre-process absentee ballots ahead of Election Day to help speed up the process, noting the state has “reached the limits of our system and of our infrastructure” when it comes to absentee voting.

More than 1.6 million absentee ballots had been returned, a state record, Benson said.

 


governor orders crackdown on covid-19 violators

 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is leaning on licensing agencies and state departments to aid with enforcement of coronavirus restrictions.

In an executive directive issued Tuesday, Whitmer ordered the Michigan State Police to enforce COVID-19 executive orders like they would other violations of law and called on state departments to prioritize enforcement.

She also ordered licensing agencies to consider violations a “public health hazard” and consider license suspensions when identified.

State departments and agencies made aware of violations must also refer credible violations to the appropriate licensing agencies.

 

“Ensuring these executive orders are enforced across the state will protect Michigan families, small businesses, and the first responders on the front lines of this crisis,” Whitmer said in a press release. “This fight is not over yet.”


kelly stafford sharing covid-19 scare on social media

The Detroit Lions announced Tuesday that quarterback Matthew Stafford did not have COVID-19 after a false positive test last week.

But that didn’t spare the family the fear of the disease, and in some cases, the isolation and ridicule from the public.

Stafford’s wife, Kelly, posted a message on Instagram describing the last days as “somewhat of a nightmare.”

“Even after we knew it was false positive, our school told us they were not allowed back,” Stafford wrote. “I was approached in a grocery store and told I was ‘endangering others,’ my kids were harassed and kicked off a playground, I was told I needed to wait in my car when trying to pick up food, and people closest to us had to get tested just so they could go back to work.”

 

“I blame the NFL for not holding themselves accountable. These are people’s lives and livelihoods that are in those results in THEIR test sites,” Kelly wrote. “Maybe we should be absolutely positive a person has COVID before releasing that info to the world.”

 


casinos reopen in detroit

Detroit’s three casinos will start reopening Wednesday under new governor-mandated capacity restrictions, 4½ months after closing for the coronavirus pandemic.

MotorCity Casino Hotel is to open at 10 a.m. Wednesday, followed by Greektown Casino-Hotel at 2 p.m.  MGM Grand Detroit will open for invite-only VIP customers Wednesday and Thursday, and at 10 a.m. Friday for the general public.    Casino customers can expect to see a lot of changes and new rules since their last pre-pandemic visit.

The biggest difference: All three properties must now limit operations to 15% capacity, a regulation that gambling industry experts say is among the strictest COVID-19 rules in the country. By comparison, Hollywood Casino Toledo can operate at 50% capacity and some tribal casinos within Michigan say they are allowing 80% capacity.

 


michigan orders coronavirus testing of agriculture workers

Michigan health officials issued a new emergency order requiring coronavirus testing for agriculture and food processing workers following at least 11 outbreaks at farms and food processing plants.  The MDHHS says it’s identified 11 coronavirus outbreaks at farms and food processing plants.

 

Under the new order, employers must provide a one-time baseline testing of all workers, test new workers prior to any in-person work and test any workers with symptoms or those who have been exposed to COVID-19.

 

A testing plan must be submitted by employers and housing operators by Aug. 10. The baseline testing must be complete, followed by ongoing testing, by Aug. 24.


henry ford health defends study

Henry Ford Health System defended a study that determined hydroxychloroquine was effective in lowering COVID-19 death rates but acknowledged the need for additional clinical trials.

The statement comes three days after the nation’s top infectious disease expert called the July 2 study results “flawed.”

The Detroit-based health system agreed that the best study of the drug, as argued by Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday, was a “double-blind, randomized clinical trial.”

Hospital officials emphasized the importance of “scientific debate” in advancing the knowledge of drugs, but noted the politicization of hydroxychloroquine is an large obstacle to the process.


um students must social distance prior to returning to campus

University of Michigan students planning to return for the fall semester must commit themselves for 14 days of “enhanced social distance at home” before returning to the Ann Arbor campus to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Those living in the residence halls and apartments will also have to take and pass a COVID-19 test. The quarantine guidelines, released Monday, apply to all students and include things such as not going to work or social gatherings, and taking their temperature twice a day and monitoring for fever.

Fall classes at UM begin Aug. 31. That means students will have to stop working, if they have jobs, not later than Aug. 17 to comply with the enhanced social distancing guidelines.


msu tells students to stay home this fall

Less than a month before classes are set to begin at Michigan State University, President Samuel Stanley is encouraging students to stay at home for fall semester if they can as COVID-19 cases continue to spread.

“If you can live safely and study successfully at home, we encourage you to consider that option for the fall semester,” Stanley wrote in an email sent to students Monday. “The vast majority of first-year students this fall will have course schedules that are completely online. Living away from campus may be the best choice for you and your family, particularly if you have family members at higher health risk.”

MSU undergraduate classes resume Sept. 2, though some graduate students, such as those in the law school, begin as soon as Aug. 17.


michigan gop senator tests positive for covid-19

A Republican state senator who sponsored a bill to limit the emergency powers Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has used to address the pandemic has tested positive for COVID-19.

State Sen. Tom Barrett issued a statement Sunday that said he does not have “any significant symptoms,” and “will be self-isolating according to medical guidelines.”

Barrett has been a vocal critic of Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and sponsored a bill to repeal the 1945 law Whitmer has used to maintain a state of emergency related to the coronavirus.

The 39 year old said his testing positive does not change how he feels about the way Whitmer has handled the pandemic and he is opposed to perpetuating a state of emergency that concentrates all political power under one person.

Barrett is the first Michigan Republican lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19.


high school suspends soccer workouts due to coronavirus

The Berkley High School boys soccer team is suspending all team gatherings for 14 days after a member of its program tested positive for COVID-19. The Berkley athletic department confirmed the individual received notice of their positive test on Aug. 1.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Berkley boys and girls cross country and football programs are suspending team gatherings until further notice because of a possible cross exposure between teams. The football and cross country programs have not reported a positive test.

The coronavirus has caused issues for many programs across the state, especially within the Metro Detroit area, as numerous teams have had to suspend workouts at one point or another in recent months.

Currently, official practice for football is set to begin on Aug. 10. All other sports begin official practice on Aug. 12.


michigan records 426 new coronavirus caes, no new deaths

Michigan recorded no additional deaths from coronavirus but added 426 new cases of the disease COVID-19.

The state’s overall case tally reached 82,782 and the death count hit 6,206, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The state added seven deaths on Saturday and eight deaths on Friday. Weekend case recording is typically delayed, state officials say.

The state health department has detected increases in cases related to travel in the northern areas of the state and reports of community spread there since early July.

Michigan is No. 14 among the states when ranked for COVID-19 cases and sixth for deaths linked the virus, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.

Of those infected, the statewide fatality rate has dropped from 9.5% in June to 7.5% in August.

Deaths and hospitalizations due to the virus remain relatively low statewide.

 


absentee ballots mount prior to election

Clerks across Michigan are preparing for in-person voting Tuesday that will look drastically different while juggling a record high absentee ballot haul that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said could delay results by one to two days.

Nearly 2 million absentee ballots had been issued to Michigan primary voters through last Tuesday, and 903,000 had been returned to clerks. The initial number far exceeds that for August 2016,

Clerks have scrambled to recruit and train new volunteers after some backed out over COVID-19 concerns, and officials outfitted polling locations and workers with personal protective equipment.

 

Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.


miaa postpones fall sports

Football and all fall sports have been postponed by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, though some member schools hope to compete in the fall as independents.

Adrian College, Calvin College and Trine University are exploring options to compete in all fall sports that they normally sponsor while Olivet College will explore options for competing in cross country, golf and tennis this fall.

The MIAA will develop schedules for football, cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball to take place later in the academic year.

“We recognize the deep disappointment this decision is for our student-athletes, coaches, and parents at schools that will not be competing,” said MIAA commissioner Penny Allen-Cook in a statement. “While this decision is very disappointing, our first priority is fostering safe and productive learning environments on our campuses.”


u-m will lead plasma research

Some Michigan patients mildly sick with COVID-19 may soon help determine whether plasma from recovered patients can curb the infection before it becomes life-threatening.

“If you can neutralize the virus in your system early, before the damage to organs, that will give you the best chance of early recovery,” said Dr. Frederick Korley, an emergency room doctor at the University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine and one of the trial’s investigators.

 

U-M and will lead the collaborative and the research on the $7 million effort, called the Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma of Outpatients, or C3PO trial, alongside teams from University of Pittsburgh, Medical University of South Carolina and Stanford Medicine.

Convalescent plasma is donated by people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection with hopes that they have built an immune response to the virus that can be shared with others. Antibodies captured in plasma are usually collected by donation agencies such as the American Red Cross and other accredited blood banks.


vaccinations down in michigan due to pandemic

Fewer Michigan children got vaccinations while the state was in throes of coronavirus-related shutdowns, leaving health officials worried about the spread of preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough and influenza.

Vaccinations have increased since they took a deep drop this spring, but numbers are still down significantly compared to 2018 and 2019, according to the state health department.

In June 2020, dosages of vaccines administered through federal or state funding dropped 10% compared to an average combining June 2018 and June 2019, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Children enrolling in Michigan schools and child care centers need to either get vaccinated or obtain a waiver citing their medical, philosophical or religious reasons for not doing so.


casinos given green light to reopen, new restrictions for up north

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave the go-ahead Wednesday for Detroit’s three casinos to open at 15 percent capacity beginning Aug. 5th.  The casinos were ordered closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Whitmer is also dialing back economic reopening in northern Michigan, reducing the size of groups allowed to gather and banning indoor alcohol sales in nightclubs and other establishments that mostly serve alcohol, with little food.  Changes begin Friday.


msu students living on campus test positive for covid-19

Multiple Michigan State University students living at Holmes Hall have tested positive for COVID-19.

An email was sent to students living in the building Monday alerting them to the positive cases. Students who tested positive are self-isolating, and the university is working closely with the Ingham County Health Department to reach out to anyone who may have had close contact with those infected.

Holmes Hall has been used as one of the university’s summer housing locations.  On-campus residents who test positive have the choice of self-isolating either at their off-campus permanent residence or designated university self-isolation space on campus.


opioid overdoses on the rise during pandemic

The number of opioid overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic has  increased dramatically across the state, according to new data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Emergency medical services responses for opioid overdoses from April through June were up 26% over the same period in 2019.

Between April and May of this year, as the coronavirus decimated Michigan and the nation, EMS responses for opioid overdoses rose 33%.

The increase in overdoses were consistent throughout the state and in most demographic groups, except for those ages 65 and older, the MDHHS said.

For months, experts have predicted that overdoses would increase during the pandemic due to isolation, boredom, job loss and other financial crisis


michigan reports nearly 1,000 new covid-19 cases

Michigan confirmed 996 new cases of the disease COVID-19 on Wednesday, including about 300 older cases from a backlog of test results from a commercial lab.

The overall case tally surpassed 80,000 known cases Wednesday, reaching 80,172 cases and a death count of 6,172, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Michigan also reported about 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday due to a backlog in its system.

The percentage of positive coronavirus tests in Michigan has been gradually increasing since June. The positivity rate was reported at 3.2% Tuesday.


teachers protest in person classes this fall

A group of educators and parents rallied in protest of schools reopening for in-person classes in Michigan this fall.

The rally began as a car caravan which drove from Detroit to Ferndale High School, Oak Park High School and Berkley High School before ending at a park in Pontiac.

 

Districts are coming down to the wire to plan for safety protocols, capacity and potential hybrid learning. Several school districts in Oakland County have already released their back to school plans, which include the hybrid of online and in-person classes. Others are offering virtual academies.

The event was organized by three coalitions, including the Michigan for a Safe Return to Campus which is planning a rally at the state capital next week.


popular splash park closes due to positive covid-19 test

Kensington Metropark’s splash pad Splash ‘N’ Blast has been temporarily closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.

The positive case is a seasonal employee who last worked Thursday at the Milford facility. The positive test result came in late Monday.

“Ensuring the health and safety of park visitors and employees is always our top priority,” Huron-Clinton Metroparks Director Amy McMillan said. “That’s why we temporarily closed the Kensington splash pad to do a further deep cleaning and make this public notification as an added precaution.”

Park officials believe the risk level of visitors contacting COVID-19 from the positive case was minimal.  The park is undergoing a deep cleaning and is expected to reopen this week.


70 coronavirus outbreaks in michigan last week

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun that coronavirus cases have recently plateaued in the state, but there is evidence of community spread.

 

As of Tuesday, a total of 79,176 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,170 deaths — an increase of 669 new cases since Monday.

31 percent are associated with nursing homes and adult care facilities, 22 percent are associated with social gatherings, 10 percent are associated with workplaces and nine percent are associated with restaurants.

Officials say outbreaks have also been associated with childcare facilities, agricultural work settings, bars, personal care services and gyms.

Outbreaks can vary in size, but it is the process of one or more people contracting the virus from a location and then spreading it to their close contacts, who then have the potential to continue spreading it.


vaccine trial gets underway at henry ford health system

The Henry Ford Health System is seeking volunteers to take park in a COVID-19 vaccine trail.

 

Henry Ford Health System is the only hospital system in Michigan chosen as a Phase 3 trial site for the Moderna mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) vaccine study.

About 90 healthcare systems across the United States are working competitively to enroll a total of 30,000 volunteers to participate in the Moderna vaccine study, 5,000 from the Henry Ford System.  Participants could receive their first shots of the vaccine by the end of the week.

Anyone age 18 or older who is not immune-compromised or pregnant or planning to become pregnant can volunteer for the study, as long as they have not had COVID-19 or another vaccine or treatment.


state to spot check businesses for compliance

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration is rolling out compliance inspections and additional resources for businesses at higher risk for COVID-19 spread.

MIOSHA announced the launch of a new program Monday aimed at increasing compliance with the state’s COVID-19 prevention rules in bars, restaurants, retail stores and other businesses where employees frequently interact with members of the public.

Should the inspections uncover major issues with an establishment’s compliance with COVID-19 policies, MIOSHA could issue citations and penalties up to $7,000.


senator asks fema to help schools with ppe

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is pressing FEMA to provide school districts reopening this fall with emergency pandemic funding.

Peters, who serves as the ranking member on a committee that supervises FEMA, sent a letter to Administrator Peter Gaynor urging him to open a federal disaster relief fund for schools. The funding could be used to cover costs related to training, reconfiguring classrooms and providing masks and other personal protective equipment.

Gaynor said FEMA likely would not provide states with emergency public assistance to help schools reopen or pay for masks because it doesn’t fit into FEMA’s authority.


coronavirus leads to shortage in plasma

The American Red Cross said a spike in COVID-19 cases has caused an emergency shortage of convalescent plasma, which is used for patients with COVID-19.

According to the Red Cross, the plasma demand has more than doubled over the last month.

Individuals who have fully recovered and received a verified COVID-19 diagnosis are urged to sign up to give convalescent plasma now by completing the donor eligibility form.

Convalescent plasma is plasma that is collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies that might help fight that infection.

Patients who come to give blood between Aug. 1 and Sept. 3 will get a $5 Amazon gift card.


michigan reports fewer than 500 new coronavirus cases

Michigan reported five new coronavirus deaths Monday, along with 488 new confirmed cases.

That brings Michigan’s COVID-19 totals to 6,154 confirmed deaths and 78,507 confirmed cases as of Monday, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Michigan reported 19,275 more diagnostic tests for current cases of coronavirus infections on Sunday. Of those tests, 589 were positive – a positivity rate of 3.06%.

As of July 24, the state reported 57,502 recoveries from coronavirus. Recoveries are defined as patients with confirmed cases who are alive 30 days post-onset.

Governor Whitmer is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2:00 p.m. to update Michiganders on the state’s response to COVID-19.


no fans at detroit tigers home opener

Get ready for the strangest home opener in Tigers history.

After the coronavirus pandemic shut down baseball for months, the Tigers will finally hold their home opener tonight at Comerica Park against the Kansas City Royals. The game will be played with no fans and in empty stadium.

Players will have to not only adjust to the silence, but also no spitting, no chewing seeds and no high fives.  Fans can still watch the game.  First pitch is 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit.


1,041 new coronavirus cases in michigan, no deaths

The state health department reported no new COVID-19 deaths Sunday, leaving the state death toll at 6,149.

An additional 1,041 coronavirus cases have been reported by the state health department Sunday. This brings Michigan’s total to 78,019 cases.

The large number of cases reported Sunday is due to a delay in processing laboratory result referrals from Friday evening through Saturday morning, according to a statement from the health department. Sunday’s report includes cases that would have been included in Saturday’s report but were not processed in time.


moving michigan back to phase 3 likely if behaviors don’t change

Gerry Anderson isn’t ready to advise Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to move the state of Michigan back to phase 3 of the six-phase MI Safe Start Plan, which featured no gatherings, no in-person education, and limiting non-essential retail to curbside or delivery.

But the chairman of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council said it’s “probably inevitable” that the entire state will need to regress to the “flattening phase” if residents don’t take efforts to reduce the growing spread of COVID-19.

The Governor has said she would move the state backward on the reopening phases if the spread of the virus warranted it.


police close walled lake beach due to coronavirus concerns


Mercer Beach is now closed to the public.

The Walled Lake Police Department said the closure is because the beach is consistently overcrowded and unable to operate without violating Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order.

The Police Chief determined a closure is necessary to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 to protect Walled Lake’s public health and ordered barricades block off beach access until further notice.  Violators will be issued a warning.  If they fail to comply, violators can be arrested.

 


coronavirus cases down in michigan prisons, but still a concern


Active cases of COVID-19 in Michigan’s prisons have fallen since the novel coronavirus tore through the Department of Corrections in the spring and infected 10% of the incarcerated population. But experts, staff and prisoners say now is not a time for complacency.

All state prisoners have been tested for COVID-19 at least once, a result of mass testing that began in April at certain facilities with outbreaks and was expanded the following month. Of the 37,192 prisoners tested, results for 3,871 were positive.

Eleven people among the current population of more than 35,000 prisoners have active infections, MDOC Director Heidi Washington said when testifying to the Senate Oversight Committee.  None of the prisoners sick with the virus are hospitalized, she said.

The department is continuing to test prisoners on an individual basis.

 


coronavirus cases continue to rise in michigan

Michigan reported seven coronavirus deaths and confirmed 699 new cases of the disease COVID-19 on Thursday — the highest single-day count in eight days.

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in the state has dropped slightly to 586 a day, down from a 594 daily average for the previous seven-day period, according to state data.

Last week’s total infections were an 11-week high for new cases with 4,232 new cases confirmed over the seven-day period. This week to date is on track to record fewer cases than last week.

The state’s overall count reached 75,947 known cases, and the death tally is at 6,148, according to the latest update from the state.   Hospitalizations due to the disease are low relative to the surge in the spring but trending up.

 


How are daily coronavirus numbers compiled?


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is explaining how the daily coronavirus cases are tallied.  Initial test results are sent to the Michigan Disease Surveillance System by the lab that performed the test.

 

Once the data is tabulated by the computer, any remaining discrepancies are reviewed and resolved by staff members. The process includes specific protocols to handle people who have more than one test or living in a different county than the one where they were tested.

Jim Collins, the director of the Communicable Disease Division said, “every morning, our staff is looking at the laboratories before we report out to make sure that cases that the system thinks might be the same, but can’t say with 100% confidence, are evaluated by human eyes.”

 


lab delays as more people get tested for covid-19

As the coronavirus stretches toward its sixth month in Michigan, testing for the deadly virus has moved far beyond the sickest or most at-risk, becoming a more normal part of public life.

But all that testing is slowing test results and putting a kink in supply chains. That in turn is limiting the ability of local health officials to quickly identify infections and curtail their spread, according to medical officials at laboratories, hospitals and nursing homes interviewed by Bridge Magazine.

It’s impossible to quantify testing turnaround times in Michigan, or how much they have slowed in recent weeks. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin confirmed that the state does not track turnaround times. Some labs are able to give next-day results; other results are taking “up to a week,” she said.


Michigan house backs gop bills to reopen schools

The Michigan House narrowly approved Republican lawmakers’ plan for reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a policy that would ensure districts offer in-person instruction for younger students.

The bills would establish so-called “electronic learning days” that would be exempt from a funding requirement that schools have 75% attendance. They would also set up “extended continuity of learning” plans for districts.  Under the bills, districts’ plans would have to ensure that students are provided with “equitable access to technology” and at least offer in-person instruction to students enrolled in kindergarten through the fifth grade.

The wide-ranging four-bill package, which clashes with elements of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reopening plan, drew opposition from Democratic lawmakers who argued the bills benefited cyber schools by loosening restrictions on online offerings and left teachers out of the discussion.

The four bills now have to go the Michigan Senate.


MSU Stops football workouts due to positive covid-19 test


Michigan State Football has paused workouts because of a positive COVID-19 test.

The athletic department began weekly testing June 15.  After student-athlete testing was completed Wednesday afternoon, the department became aware of a staff member who produced a positive result during weekend testing.  402 student-athletes and 104 staffers have been tested for the virus, of those, seven players tested positive.

Players and staffers who test positive must remain in isolation and undergo daily checks with the athletic training staff. Once an athlete tests positive, they need consecutive negative results to return.

Because the 20-hour practice week was due to begin, players and staff members would be in larger groups than during voluntary workouts; athletic director Bill Beekman decided to halt activities.

 


popular festival cancelled due to covid-19 concerns


Arts, Beats and Eats is canceled for 2020 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, but organizers are planning small scale live entertainment and alternative virtual and drive-in events instead.

The events will be fundraisers to support local musicians who have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.  The goal is to raise $500,000.

In addition to music, “Art by Appointment” will let patrons visit a limited number of artists’ booths on site.  For those who go to the festival for the food, locally owned food trucks will visit neighborhoods in the area.

All events come with restrictions.  You can get more information, including ticket information, at Art Beats Eats.com

http://artsbeatseats.com

 


judge orders summer school students be tested for covid-19


Detroit Public School officials have five days, starting Wednesday, to test more than 630 summer school students for COVID-19 as a condition of keeping the program operating, a federal judge ruled.

 

Detroit school district attorney Jenice Ford, argued the order was unfair, stating there is no legal authority to order testing of students and that testing is not a requirement in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders on reopening schools.

 

“The test is for the benefit of the child. The people who should be complaining are those in the suburbs or other parts of Michigan who are not required to go through a test,” said U.S. Disctrict Judge Arthur Tarnow, “The injustice is they could be in a school that could be unsafe.

 

If a parent refuses to consent to testing, the judge said the child is out of school.  An estimated 650 students attend summer school.

 

 


concern of cyber criminals targeting remote learning


Officials believe Cyber Criminals are looking to target thousands of students learning online in Michigan.

FBI agents are already working to get ahead, issuing alerts to help parents, students and districts prepare from a security standpoint.  The most important measure parents can take is to check their internet security. Change passwords and download the latest security protection onto every device in the home.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, ransomware attacks are becoming more common in businesses and school systems. FBI officials are warning schools about an attack involving a virus that holds computer systems hostage until a payoff.  School districts should have all their systems up to date, backup systems in multiple places and a plan in place for a cyber attack, experts said.

 

 


reservations no longer needed at cedar point


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cedar Point originally required guests to make advance reservations online or on the amusement parks app since its July 9 opening date. However, as of July 21, guests are no longer mandated to do so.

The park is following safety guidelines by requiring guests to take a health screening on the park’s app 24 hours prior to attending. All guests and employees are also required to wear a mask at all times, undergo a touchless temperature screening and practice social distancing.

Last week, Cedar Point announced three employees tested positive for coronavirus. The employees were screened and detected with coronavirus prior to the park opening and prior to serving at their park locations. The park remained open despite the employees testing positive.

 

 


michigan nears 75,000 coronavirus case mark


An additional 573 coronavirus cases has been confirmed by the Michigan health department Tuesday. This brings the state’s total to 74,725 cases since March.

The health department also reported nine new COVID-19 deaths since Monday, bringing the statewide death toll to 6,135 as of Tuesday.

Of 22,886 COVID-19 diagnostic lab tests reported Monday, 21,915 yielded negative results and 971 were positive, which is 4.24% of tests.

Tuesday’s report also includes 8,334 probable cases and 247 probable deaths, for a total of 83,059 cases and 6,382 deaths.

 

 


league of women voters wants michigan supreme court to take up case


The League of Women Voters is taking its case to the Michigan Supreme Court. The group is appealing a decision that requires absentee ballots be received by local clerks by Election Day.

The League says voters should have their ballots count if they are put in the mail by Election Day.

“The unconstitutional barriers to absentee voting in Michigan, must be corrected immediately,” said Christina Schlitt, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan in a statement.

While the League is asking the Supreme Court to take on the case, there’s no guarantee it will.

The League of Women Voters sued the state in May, arguing that absentee ballots should be allowed to be received after Election Day as long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day.

 


half of michigan’s childcare centers still closed


Access to child care remains a crucial barrier to reopening the state economy following the coronavirus lockdown, but a recent survey from the  Early Childhood Investment Corp. found less than half, 2,917 of 6,000 licensed facilities statewide, are open.

“Even before the pandemic, access to quality child care was one of the main issues facing working Michigan families,” said Dawne Bell, CEO of the Lansing-based nonprofit that advocates on early childhood issues and conditions.  There is no economic recovery without child care.”

In April, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $130 million investment to keep the state’s child care network afloat and make it more accessible for Michigan families. However, with many parents unemployed or working for home, the need for childcare dropped considerably, forcing businesses to close.

 

 


gov. whitmer & dr. fauci among michigan’s most trusted sources on coronavirus


Dr. Anthony Fauci and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are the biggest sources of coronavirus information for Michigan residents and also among the most trusted sources, according to a new survey released by University of Michigan.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also ranked high in both trust and overall sources of COVID-19 information, the survey found.

The survey was sponsored by the Center for Health and Research Transformation and Department of Learning Health Sciences at the University of Michigan. About 1,000 Michigan residents were surveyed in late May.

 

One big takeaway from the survey is that more than 80% of respondents put a great deal of trust in their own health-care providers, making that group the most trusted source of information. But only 38% have received coronavirus information from their doctors, the survey found.

 

 


michigan reports 489 new coronavirus cases


The number of coronavirus cases in Michigan has surpassed 74,000, according to the most recent data provided by state health officials Monday.  Michigan reported 489 new coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the state’s coronavirus case total to 74,152. The state also reported seven new deaths being attributed to the virus, which brings Michigan’s coronavirus death toll to 6,126.  As of Friday, Michigan reported 55,162 residents have recovered from the coronavirus.

Michigan ranks 13th in the U.S. in total coronavirus cases, according to data gathered and provided by the World Health Organization, which factors in probable cases as well as confirmed cases of the virus.

 

 


union workers at nursing homes plan to strike


 

Union workers at several metro Detroit nursing homes plan to strike Monday as they face significant health risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, SEIU members said.

Workers are calling for increased safety protections such as masks and gloves. They also want a $15 minimum wage for all service workers, an $18 wage for certified nursing assistants, an end to mandatory overtime and short-staffing, and improved benefits such as health care and paid sick leave.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that as of Friday, that the state has 7,508 confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents and 3,581 among staff in long-term care facilities.The department reports 1,983 deaths among long-term care residents and 22 staff deaths.

About one-third of the coronavirus deaths in Michigan have occurred in nursing homes

 

 


coronavirus cases continue to climb in michigan


More cases of the coronavirus, but fewer deaths.  That’s been the trend the past few weeks in Michigan.

 

The state reported 483 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths on Sunday.  That brings the yearly total to 73,663 cases and 6,119 deaths.

 

Last week, about 3.5% of the COVID-19 tests in the state were positive, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data. The previous week about 3.4% of the tests were positive. The positive percentage — a key metric for monitoring the spread of COVID-19 — has been on the rise for six weeks.

 

Rising number of cases is being contributed to people gathering at churches, bars and house parties.

 


community spread my trigger setback in reopening plan


The threat of community spread could play a major role in moving the state backward in its reopening plan.  In an interview with WDIV, Governor Whitmer said while coronavirus case numbers are important, context is what really matters.

“If we have 140 cases in Wayne County for instance, but we have a nexus, they all came out of one house party, or they all came out of one facility, then we can trace and isolate, but if those 140 cases have no nexus, that they are just randomized, that means that there is community spread,”. If there is community spread, that is alarming, and that is when we look to take a step back.


absentee ballots that arrive after election won’t count


The Michigan appeals court has denied a request to require the counting of absentee ballots received after the time polls close on Election Day.

The ruling says the deadline remains intact despite voters’ approval of a constitutional amendment that expanded mail-in voting in Michigan, which is seen as one of the battleground states in November’s presidential election.

The court in a 2-1 decision released Wednesday says it is up to lawmakers to change the deadline.

The League of Women Voters of Michigan and three voters sued in May, seeking a declaration that absentee ballots be counted as long as they are mailed on or before Election Day and are received within six days of the election.

 

 


judge rules in favor of governor’s decision to close indoor movie theaters


Judge Paul Maloney of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, has upheld Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order to keep indoor movie theaters closed at this point during the pandemic.

The lawsuit was brought by Emagine Theater in Royal Oak.

“Today, the court concluded what we already know: that we must continue taking aggressive action against COVID-19, including limiting large gatherings, to protect Michigan families and save lives,” Whitmer said. “COVID-19 is still a very real threat in Michigan, and the brave men and women on the front lines of this crisis are counting on us all to do our part.”

In June, Emagine Theater announced celebration of the Juneteenth holiday with a film festival that was set to take place against the governor’s order. After the Michigan Attorney General’s Office threatened criminal charges against the company, Chairman Paul Glantz reversed decision to hold the event.

 

 


push to extend federal unemployment benefits


Panic is setting in for those collecting federal unemployment but still have no hope of returning to work.

Under the CARES Act, passed in March, Congress lengthened the duration of unemployment benefits to 39 weeks providing an extra $600 a week for four months. But that’s set to expire at the end of the month. Now, some Michigan representatives are efforting to move an extension through Washington. “People think none of us care but we do care and that’s why this matters,” said US Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI 12).

According to the Economic Policy Institute, during the pandemic 36.4 million people have applied for unemployment benefits nationwide and 2.4 million workers applied for benefits just last week, 50,000 of them from Michigan.


michigan hires accounting firm to help investigate unemployment fraud


Michigan is contracting with multinational accounting giant Deloitte to assist with prevention and prosecution of widespread unemployment fraud.

As of June 12, the UIA had flagged 140,000 unemployment claims as being potentially fraudulent and state Attorney General Dana Nessel launched a task force in collaboration with the UIA, state police and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) to investigate

“Deloitte will review the programs and systems at the UIA and assist with the investigation of imposter and fraudulent claims,” the UIA said in an announcement.  “Deloitte has extensive experience with state unemployment and workforce systems across the country and will provide valuable financial and systems knowledge as the UIA continues to process a historic number of claims during this health and economic crisis.

The  UIA has paid nearly $15 billion to more than 2 million claimants since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Suspected fraud led to increased scrutiny and longer wait times for Michigan residents seeking unemployment benefits.

 

 


new program launched to help tenants avoid eviction


 

The Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) is being administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) in collaboration with Michigan Supreme Court and Department of Health and Human Services.  The state’s eviction moratorium ended on Wednesday.

As part of the program, an allocation of $50 million was set aside to help tenants and landlords resolve eviction filings with conditional dismissals. Tenants making up to 100 % of area median income are eligible for the rental assistance.

Participating landlords can receive up to 90% of a tenant’s unpaid rent in one lump sum. In exchange, landlords must dismiss all late fees, up to 10% of the amount due, and allow tenants to stay in their homes.

“At a time filled with a lot of uncertainty, the Eviction Diversion Program offers some peace of mind for tenants and landlords,” said Kelly Rose, MSHDA’s chief housing solutions officer. “We understand how important housing is as a foundation for success in many other areas of life. That’s why we’re committed to leveraging the EDP to preserve tenant housing in as many cases as possible across the state.”

 


michigan reports highest single day total of coronavirus cases in two months


Michigan reported four coronavirus deaths Wednesday and confirmed 891 new cases of the COVID-19 virus—the largest single-day case tally in two months.  For three weeks, infections have been increasing statewide in Michigan, with the State recording a seven-week high for new cases last week.  In addition to the 891 cases confirmed Wednesday, the state reported 158 probable cases.

 

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in Michigan is up to 566 a day from 413 daily for the previous seven-day period, according to state data. Wednesday’s total was the highest daily case count since May 14 when Michigan reported 1,191 new cases.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said the high number of new cases reported Wednesday were “very concerning.”


university of michigan to require face coverings on campus 


The University of Michigan will require all students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose while on campus grounds, effective immediately.  That includes while inside buildings, outdoors and on U-M transportation on all campuses.

“It is difficult on a busy university campus to maintain distance from groups even while outdoors, so requiring face coverings outdoors will help slow the spread of the virus,” the university said in a statement.

There are limited exceptions to the rule, such as an individual who has been granted a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


restaurant and bar owners get training in how to deal with irate customers

As tensions mount with the strict indoor mask requirement, one industry group is offering training to help bar and restaurant staff stay safe and in control when they need to de-escalate and communicate in a situation.

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association is offering hour-long virtual courses to its members next week and will expand the instruction nationwide in two weeks on the Techniques of Alcohol Management website.

The group is partnering with Keene Training and Consulting to offer the courses, which will be taught by instructors with backgrounds of law enforcement. Scott Ellis, the association’s executive director, said with COVID-19 and the new stricter face mask usage executive order, this training is now “more crucial than ever.”

 


pandemic leads to appliance shortage


The effects of the COVID-19 shutdowns are now reverberating across the appliance manufacturing industry.

Residents are reporting that refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers are out of stock with a months-long wait for orders across the region. Some are finding orders made in spring being cancelled as retailers grapple with the lack of supply. Others are being told outright that it’s going to take much longer than usual to order and install appliances.

Freezers especially have seen higher demand since the beginning of the pandemic as consumers look to keep stocked up on food at home to avoid frequent grocery store trips.

Martin Hartunian, CEO of ABC Warehouse said the coronavirus’ affect on the supply chain is making it more difficult for retailers to keep orders filled.

“The wire harnesses, switches, electrical components and dials are things that are manufactured overseas or in Mexico, which has slowed the production process down,” Hartunian said. “GE, Whirlpool, LG and Samsung do have some assembly of appliances in the U.S., but with COVID-19, they’ve had to rework their production lines which has led to a drop in yield.”


governor extends state of emergency

 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday extended Michigan’s state of emergency through Aug. 11.

The state of emergency does not place any restrictions on Michigan residents, but it allows the Governor to issue executive orders that place such restrictions, such as current orders closing gyms and theaters in south and central Michigan, restricting occupancy at dine-in restaurants, and requiring face masks at indoor public places and crowded outdoor spaces.

The state of emergency had been scheduled to expire Thursday.

Every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases the past three weeks.

“COVID-19 has now killed more than 6,000 people in Michigan,” Whitmer said in a news release. “That’s more than 6,000 of our parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors. And the rising numbers we’ve seen over the past few weeks prove that this virus is still a very real threat in our state.”

michigan coronavirus cases top 70,000

 

Michigan health officials confirmed six coronavirus deaths Tuesday and 584 new cases of the disease COVID-19, as the tally of known infections since the start of the outbreak exceeded 70,000.

In addition to the 584 cases confirmed Tuesday, the state reported 82 probable cases.   Infections are still on the rise with the state recording a seven-week high for new cases last week — the total exceeding 3,400.  The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in Michigan is up to 495 daily from 394 daily for the previous seven-day period, according to state data.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has zeroed in on the Grand Rapids area in particular as an emerging hot spot.

 

Mask alert prompts legislation by gop leaders

After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a statewide emergency alert to Michigan residents informing them of the new requirement to wear masks, Republican lawmakers are planning to introduce bills to limit what the emergency alert system can be used for.

Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, and Rep. Bradley Slagh, R-Zeeland, plan to introduce legislation next week that would restrict the statewide emergency alert system to time-sensitive emergencies or natural disasters.

Both lawmakers said they were concerned Whitmer’s use of the statewide emergency alert system to inform residents of COVID-19 related executive orders goes too far. 

“This is an overt abuse of a service designed to alert people of legitimate emergencies — the governor has gone beyond the scope and intent of the law and is now somewhere over the rainbow and approaching Oz,” Lucido said in a statement. 

The alert in question was issued Monday afternoon and informed cellphone owners in Michigan of Whitmer’s executive order requiring individuals to wear masks in indoor, public spaces and outdoor spaces where they can’t maintain a six-foot-distance.


Oakland county announces safety measures for 2020 election

Oakland County officials announced several steps they are taking to help ensure 2020 elections are safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

County Executive David Coulter, along with Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David T. Woodward and Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Lisa Brown, announced the steps, which include clean polling locations and absentee options. “These elections are sure to draw unprecedented interest, not only because of the candidates and issues involved, but because of the challenges COVID-19 presents for conducting an election that is safe and fair,” Coulter said. “That’s why this Oakland Together 2020 Democracy Initiative is so important. Our goal is to ensure safe, healthy, secure elections with full participation by Oakland County residents.”

small businesses hurt by covid-19 can apply for economic recovery grants

 

Pontiac, Michigan – Oakland County retail stores, restaurants and personal service businesses such as salons and fitness centers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can apply beginning today for part of the $32 million Oakland Together Small Business Recovery Grant fund.

The grants – which range from $2,500-$10,000 – provide an infusion of capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar ones that occur in the ordinary course of business. The funds come from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money allocated to Oakland County by the federal government.

“We know that many of our small businesses have reopened but the losses they suffered while they were closed or operating at reduced capacity are significant and continue to threaten their viability,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We want to do all we can to help them recover and continue to provide the goods and services that are so important to our residents.”

Applications are accepted online at www.oakgov.com/covid/grants,  Deadline to apply is August 24th.

 


384 new coronavirus cases, 7 deaths in michigan 

 

 

Michigan reported seven coronavirus deaths Monday and 384 new cases, as stronger laws on mask wearing went into effect statewide.

Michigan is seeing an increase in the number of known cases of the disease COVID-19, with a seven-week high for new infections last week, with the total exceeding 3,400.

The average number of new cases for the past seven days ending Monday was up to 507 a day from an average of 382 a day for the previous seven-day period, according to state data.

Reported deaths and hospitalizations due to the disease remain relatively low compared to the spring, but deaths were at a four-week high with 95 total last week.

The state health department confirmed 69,722 cases of COVID-19 and 6,075 deaths through Monday. When probable cases are added, Michigan’s case total reaches 77,198 and the death toll is 6,321.


 


michigan may move to shield businesses from coronavirus related lawsuits

Business owners across Michigan are looking for answers on how COVID-19 changes their legal liability as they reopen to the public and make changes for public health.  According to an article in Bridge Magazine, State Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, is spearheading legislation that would address business liability for Michigan businesses that follow executive orders and the CDC guidelines, The bill is in development and subject to change. If a business is operating in a prudent manner by  following federal or state regulations or executive orders,  it would be protected from civil liability.  At least four states nationwide have passed laws granting businesses immunity from lawsuits related to COVID-19.


new facemask requirements go into effect today


Refusing to wear a mask covering in Michigan can now cost you a $500 fine.  Executive Order 2020-147 mandates individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space, or in a crowded outdoor space when proper social distancing cannot be observed.  Businesses are expected to deny service to an individual not obeying and anyone found to be in violation of the order could face a misdemeanor charge with a $500 criminal penalty.

In a statement, Governor Whitmer said, “Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent.  By wearing masks, we can save lives and protect our family, friends and neighbors”.


pandemic creating challenges for upcoming election


The Coronavirus pandemic is creating new challenges for the area clerks.  In 2018, voters approved same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting.  With COVID-19 still a concern, requests for absentee ballots have surged.  The Secretary of State’s office reporter over 1.5 million requests ahead of the August 4th primary, more than three-and-a-half times the number than at the same time in 2016.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said, “We’re doing everything we can to really quickly adjust to a lot of new things for our clerks and voters.”


michigan’s eviction moratorium to be lifted this week


Advocates for renters expect a flood of eviction filings as the state’s eviction moratorium lifts later this week.  It’s estimated there is a backlog of 75,000 filings.  The eviction ban was first imposed on March 20th.  Even as funding to help renters flows to tenants and landlords, renters’ advocates worry the support won’t be enough to keep people in their homes as the pandemic continues to cause job losses.

“The wave of evictions will be so strong that the measures that the court has taken and then the new housing program that the state has created won’t be enough to fully blunt that wave,” said Jim Schaafsma, an attorney with the Michigan Poverty Law Program.


at least 43 cases of covid-19 linked to a house party in washtenaw county


According to published articles, it appears that 43 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a house party in Washtenaw County over the 4th of July weekend. Due to the time it takes COVID-19 to incubate and for individuals to show symptoms, the recent increase in case numbers throughout the state have been largely due to people engaging in social activities and not adhering to social distancing or wearing face masks. Contact tracing methods are underway to attempt to track individuals involved with the get-together.


detroit schools resuming in-person summer classes today


According to an article with ClickOnDetroit, the Detroit Public Schools Community District is resuming in-person classes today, and also offering virtual options for students. This move was meant with some protests this morning. The DPSCD will be taking precautionary measures to try and prevent or combat any spread of COVID-19. School districts around the state will keep a close eye on DPSCD to see how they progress.


michigan records 390 covid-19 cases on sunday


Reports from BridgeMI are showing an increase of 390 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. The previous few days saw increases over 600 plus individuals, marking a continuing trend of new cases throughout the state. Oakland County came in third place for new cases, with 56 individuals testing positive for COVID-19. Michigan reported only one death on Sunday due to coronavirus complications.


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