Novel coronavirus graphic

A records review has added 91 previous deaths to Michigan’s COVID-19 pandemic total, state health officials said Saturday.

The state Department of Health and Human Services also reported 16 new coronavirus deaths, pushing the statewide toll to 18,607.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, April 12, 2021 photo
Lon Horwedel/Detroit News / Associated Press

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s private round trip to Florida to see her ailing father was paid for from a fund that’s used for travel not covered by tax dollars, her chief of staff said Friday.

The cost was $27,521, with Whitmer personally paying $855 of that amount, according to the Michigan Transition 2019 website, which lists donations and expenses. The nonprofit was initially formed for inauguration events. The lack of details has dogged Whitmer since the March trip was revealed in April.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services logo
michiganhhs / michiganhhs

People in Michigan who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t need to wear a mask any longer, and people who aren’t vaccinated don’t have to wear one outdoors, officials said Friday, also declaring that the state’s indoor mask requirement will expire in July.

The announcement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state health department came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.

Michigan’s revised order will take effect at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services logo
michiganhhs / michiganhhs

A state Senate committee has issued a subpoena to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for documents related to its COVID-19 response.

Specifically, the Senate Oversight Committee wants documents dealing with the management of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and other congregate care facilities.

Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) is the committee chair. McBroom said he’s frustrated with foot-dragging to get documents he requested two month ago.

Republican election challenger photo
Associated Press

A Michigan Republican known for challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election has turned his attention to those who fact-check the claims of public officials.

State Rep. Matt Maddock this week introduced the “Fact Checker Registration Act,” which would force journalists and others who perform fact checks to register with the state and insure themselves with a $1 million fidelity bond. His legislation also would fine fact checkers $1,000 every day they don’t register.

$20 dollar bills photo
Creative Commons

Michigan Republicans’ lame-duck maneuver to weaken voter-proposed minimum wage and paid sick leave laws was unconstitutional, organizers of the ballot initiatives said in lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The complaint came more than 16 months after the state Supreme Court declined to issue a rare advisory opinion on the legality of the move, which could have prevented a lengthy court fight.

Michigan Capitol Building photo
Michigan Senate / www.senate.michigan.gov

Republicans who control Michigan's Senate have begun approving a $66.4 billion budget that would spend 5% more than in the current year - thanks to an influx of federal funding - but about $728 million less than what is proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Democrats voted against bills, showing a legislative deal with the Democratic governor remained weeks or months away. Legislators are required to pass spending bills by July 1, though the fiscal year will not start until Oct. 1.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, April 12, 2021 photo
Lon Horwedel/Detroit News / Associated Press

Michigan on Monday surpassed a 55% COVID-19 vaccination rate, reaching a milestone that will lead to the automatic easing of in-person work restrictions in two weeks.

Employers currently must prohibit onsite work if employees’ jobs can feasibly be done remotely. The state anticipates lifting the rule on May 24, said COVID-19 workplace safety director Sean Egan.

The 55% benchmark is the first of four under a plan outlined by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer less than two weeks ago.

Jocelyn Benson photo
Patrick Center / WGVU

Michigan’s new redistricting commission is set to begin taking public comment as it weighs how to draw the boundaries for 13 congressional and 148 legislative districts that will last for a decade.

The series of 16 hearings will start Tuesday in Jackson and end July 1 in Grand Rapids.

The panel — which has four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents — will create the maps instead of the Legislature doing it because voters approved an anti-political gerrymandering constitutional amendment in 2018.

An Upper Peninsula sheriff in Michigan’s smallest county is making a public plea for more mental health treatment after a young driver smashed a car into trees to try to end a life.

A Facebook post, with a photo of the crumpled car, has been shared more than 6,000 times this week, more than three times the population of Keweenaw County.

Absentee Voter Drop Box photo
Associated Press

Senate Republicans on Wednesday relaxed legislation that would have prohibited the use of absentee ballot drop boxes on Election Day, instead proposing to close them at 5 p.m. — three hours before Michigan polls close.

The change, which did not appease opponents, was announced as the GOP-led Senate Elections Committee held its third hearing on measures in a 39-bill package, parts of which would restrict the absentee voting process.

Michigan Capitol Building photo
Michigan Senate / www.senate.michigan.gov

The Michigan House voted unanimously Tuesday to curb the size of severance deals for state officials unless they limit the state’s legal exposure and details are made public.

The move curbing the size of severance deals came after Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration faced scrutiny over $85,000 and $155,000 payouts made to her former health and unemployment directors.

pic of headband with mask attached
Kat Samardzija creator / Locker Lifestyle

Michigan late Tuesday lifted an outdoor mask requirement except in gatherings of at least 100 people and in organized contact sports, and said teen athletes no longer must undergo regular COVID-19 testing if they are fully vaccinated.

Under a revised pandemic order that takes effect Thursday, the state also eased caps on outdoor event sizes and said vaccinated people are not required to be masked at indoor residential gatherings even if others are unvaccinated.

Patty Corkery, President/CEO, Michigan Credit Union League photo
Rick Weaver / Michigan Credit Union League

In January, online gambling and sports betting launched in Michigan. In February, the state’s Problem Gambling Hotline received five times the number of callers seeking addiction help than it did the previous year. Michigan Credit Unions are also being negatively impacted by online gaming.

Most debit cards offer a courtesy pay, a mini loan should the card holder spend beyond their limit so that it’s not declined.

Great Lakes Piping Plover photo

In the late 1980s, the Great Lakes Piping Plover was nearly extinct. There were only 10 known pairs. Slowly, the endangered species has made a comeback. There are 67 pairs today. One those couples calls Muskegon State Park home. WGVU stopped by where two new nesting areas are being established.