Michigan

Novel coronavirus graphic
PBS

Michigan, where COVID-19 is surging more than in any state, on Thursday reported its first confirmed case of a coronavirus variant that was initially identified in Brazil.

There are concerns it might affect re-infect people who have already had COVID-19. The variant was found in a resident in Bay County, where the local health officials were investigating the person’s exposure history.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has doubled the state’s goal of delivering 50 thousand COVID-19 vaccine shots per day to 100 thousand.

   That’s as case rates in Michigan are rising.

Michigan leads the nation in COVID-19 cases per capita.  That’s based on the last seven-day average. The pace of COVID-related deaths in the state is also accelerating.

Much of the increase in the state appears linked to new, more-contagious COVID variants.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer photo
Office of the Governor / Associated Press

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked the White House on Tuesday if it would consider sending additional COVID-19 vaccines to states, including Michigan, that face surging coronavirus cases.

Whitmer later announced that the state’s direct allotment of doses — which is separate from vaccines going to pharmacies from the federal government — will total about 620,000 next week, a record. That is 12%, or roughly 66,000, more than this week and includes a substantial boost in the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Karl Manke cutting hair photo
Lansing State Journal / Associated Press

A Michigan barber who defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and reopened his shop last spring during the coronavirus pandemic was fined $9,000 for violating licensing rules, including joining a protest where hairstylists cut hair on the Capitol lawn.

Karl Manke will appeal the penalties in court, his lawyer said.

Scales of Justice photo
Tim Evanson via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0 / wikimedia.org

A western Michigan couple has been sentenced to 15 days each in a county jail after an 18-year-old who had drank alcohol during a party at their home later was killed in a crash.

David and Nichole Kooistra pleaded no contest Monday in Kent County District Court to misdemeanor allowing alcohol consumption by a minor on premises at a social gathering, according to MLive.com.

Each also has to pay fines and complete one year of probation.

Pfizer logo
wikipedia.com

Pfizer is expected to start building a new pharmaceutical production facility in western Michigan.

The drugmaker will break ground Wednesday on the multi-story, 420,000-square-foot (39,019-square-meter) building on Pfizer’s global manufacturing campus in Portage, MLive.com reported.

It is expected to bring 450 new jobs to the area. The $465 million facility is expected to be in operation in 2025, according to Pfizer.

The new facility will initially manufacture the pain medicine known as Dynastat, which is supplied to several international countries, Pfizer said.

Ron Weiser, left, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, and Ronna Romney McDaniel, National Republican Committee chairwoman August 2020 photo
David Guralnick/Detroit News / Associated Press

Michigan Republican Chairman Ron Weiser has apologized for comments calling the three highest-ranking elected female leaders in the state “witches” who should be “ready for the burning at the stake.”

The comments Weiser made during an event Thursday in Oakland County about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson came in addition to others raising the idea of “assassination” in reference to U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer, two Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump.

Photo of gavel
Unsplash

Michigan residents whose unemployment claims were wrongfully rejected as fraudulent by a computer system can sue the system’s developers and state officials, a federal judge has ruled.

Five plaintiffs sued FAST Enterprises LLC, CSG Government Solutions and five state employees in 2017, alleging that the staffers’ actions and flaws with the automated computer system put them at financial risk and even bankruptcy.

In an opinion issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson dismissed one plaintiff and three defendants but ruled that the case will move forward.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, February 24, 2021 photo
Michigan Office of the Governor / Associated Press

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday again vetoed about $652 million in proposed COVID-19 relief spending after the Michigan Legislature passed it without negotiating with her administration.

Majority Republicans reapproved the funding following the Democratic governor’s first veto weeks ago during a fight over an attempt to link federal funds to her agreeing to cede certain pandemic powers solely to local health departments.

voting sticker
Vox Efx via Flickr | CC BY 2.0 / Flickr.com

The GOP-controlled Legislature is planning a maneuver that would enable it to pass contentious election changes into law and effectively nullify a likely veto from the state’s Democratic governor, a top Michigan Republican said.

Ron Weiser, chair of the state Republican Party, told activists Thursday that the party will spearhead a ballot initiative assuming Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoes new bills that Democrats and voting-rights groups say would suppress voting. Under state law, lawmakers can enact such initiatives without a gubernatorial veto or let them go to a public vote.

Flint Water Tower photo
Associated Press

A judge on Friday rejected a sudden effort to extend Monday’s deadline to register for a share of a $641 million Flint water lawsuit settlement.

U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said she won’t upset a well-publicized 60-day deadline that was baked into a settlement involving Flint, the state of Michigan, residents who were exposed to lead-contaminated water, and other parties.

“Get all hands on deck and get the job done,” Levy told a group of lawyers during a hearing on Zoom.

Redistricting map legislatures and commissions graphic
associated press

Michigan’s redistricting commission will ask the state Supreme Court to delay the deadline to finish new congressional and legislative maps by nearly three months and give candidates 25 extra days to file to run.

The pending request is due to an eight-month delay in data from the U.S. Census bureau.

The 13-member panel, which had previously authorized legal action, on Thursday specified which dates to propose to the court.

Kent County seal
Kent County

Brick and mortar, temporary or mobile, there are nearly 2,300 food establishments in Kent County.

The pandemic has brought hardship to the industry with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issuing closures and seating capacity limits aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. Recognizing the challenges over the past year, the Kent County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously waived the 2021 food service licensing and inspection fees.

Depending on licensure type and size of establishment, the annual fee varies from $155 to $580.

Prescription drugs photo
U.S. Army via Wikimedia | Public Domain / Wikimedia.org

A series of bills that aim to make getting medication and medical care easier, more affordable and transparent passed the Michigan House Wednesday.

One area of concern has been the growing cost of insulin to manage diabetes. According to the state health department, about 870,000 adults in Michigan in 2016 had been diagnosed with diabetes, which amounts to 1 in 10 adults.

One bill would cap copays on 30-day prescriptions of insulin at $50.

Rep. Mark Tisdel said he hopes the bill will make things better for those who struggle to afford insulin.

Flint Water Tower photo
Associated Press

More than 30,000 registration forms have been received from people who want to participate in a $641 million Flint water lawsuit settlement.

The deadline is next Monday.

“The registrations are coming in at a pretty brisk pace but timing matters so I just want to repeat that deadline,” U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said Wednesday during a status conference that was livestreamed on Zoom.

Special Master Deborah Greenspan reported 33,341 registration forms were received as of Monday.

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