Michigan

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Michigan Republicans on Wednesday proposed a slew of election bills that would require voters to submit a photo ID, prohibit the unsolicited mass mailing of absentee ballot applications, and restrict the hours in which people could drop their ballot in curbside boxes.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s appointment of the state health department stands confirmed. The state Senate had until today  to reject the appointment of Elizabeth Hertel.

Elizabeth Hertel is a department veteran who’s already played a major role in the Whitmer administration’s COVID-19 response. And that’s rankled Republicans who say the Whitmer administration’s used health orders to circumvent the Legislature.

   “We need to be able to legislate again, to do our jobs again…”

   State Senator Lana Theis.

Vaccine available to homeless
David Zalubowski / Associated Press

Vaccinated church leaders serving as medical volunteers will begin canvassing Grand Rapids neighborhoods identified as having a high number of socially vulnerable residents. It’s a grassroots COVID-19 vaccine registration effort.

The Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force has been meeting once a week since the coronavirus pandemic began more than one year ago. Leaders from 50 Kent County congregations hosting a one-hour meeting with the health department.

State House Democrats are calling for Republican leaders to allow votes this week on spending more COVID-19 funds before the Legislature starts its spring break.

The call by House Democrats matches up with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s demand that GOP leaders adopt a new COVID-19 budget bill that includes new federal funding.

House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski said the Legislature should not begin a spring break next week without appropriating that money.

chalk and chalkboard in an education classroom
Public domain image via Wikimedia / wikimedia.org

Starting Monday, hundreds of Michigan school districts had to offer at least 20 hours a week of in-person instruction to receive all of a minimum $450-per-student increase in emergency pandemic funding.

The provision affects 206, or 38%, of the state’s 537 traditional K-12 districts — those with higher numbers or percentages of children from middle-class and wealthy families.

Novel coronavirus graphic
PBS

Michigan is set to expand vaccine eligibility starting Monday, a move that comes as public health experts voice fresh concerns about the state’s rising COVID-19 infection rate.

Residents age 50 and older will be eligible for vaccines starting Monday. Ford Field in Detroit is set to open Wednesday as Michigan’s first federally run mass vaccine site.

However, the state’s COVID-19 cases have been increasing. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said the state’s case rate spiked 77% over the past four weeks to 172.9 cases per million people.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney sits in the courtroom during her arraignment, Friday March, 19, 2021 photo
Nicole Hester / Ann Arbor News via AP

Supporters boarded the doors at a western Michigan restaurant to show authorities that the owner will keep it closed, a condition necessary to spring her from jail for violating court orders related to COVID-19.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, meanwhile, remained in custody Saturday, 90 miles away at the Ingham County jail.

Holly Shashaguay said she helped board up Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland on Friday night.

“When I painted that ‘complied’ sign, I was crying the whole time,” Shashaguay told MLive.com. “We didn’t want to do it, but we did.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Feb. 9, 2021 photo
Michigan Office of the Governor / Associated Press

Michigan on Friday eased outdoor stadium capacity restrictions before baseball’s opening day but ordered weekly rapid testing of teen athletes amid a climbing coronavirus case rate that ranks fourth nationally over the past week.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, for now, she does not plan to tighten COVID-19 restrictions her administration had gradually loosened in recent months — noting ongoing vaccinations while also citing concerns about virus variants that more easily spread.

New state health orders will soon allow more people to attend live sports events, and will require teen-aged athletes to be tested weekly for COVID-19.

The new rules were announced by the state’s chief medical executive and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. That’s despite an uptick in COVID infections in Michigan as well as positivity rates. Much of that is related to teen sports meets.                

“This uptick in our numbers is something that’s very serious, and we all have to take this seriously. We are so close.”

Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General photo
Associated Press

A west Michigan restaurant owner defying state health orders restricting the spread of the coronavirus was arrested Friday.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney is the owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria. The Holland restauranteur’s food establishment license was suspended in January by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for violating Michigan food laws and public health orders after investigators discovered the restaurant disobeyed seating capacity restrictions and failed to enforce mask requirements. Yet, it remained open.

Trump supporters Washington Capitol photo
Julio Cortez / Associated Press

Two more Michigan men were charged Thursday after photos and other evidence showed they were at the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Robert “Bobby” Schornak and Daniel Herendeen, both from Macomb County, traveled to Washington in support of President Donald Trump and got inside the Capitol, according to the FBI.

“Cant stay home, I would not be able to live w myself,” Schornak told Herendeen in a Facebook message obtained by the FBI.

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder photo
michigan.gov

A judge on Thursday rejected a request to dismiss misdemeanor charges against a former Michigan governor in the Flint water scandal.

Lawyers for Rick Snyder said he worked in Ingham County, not Genesee County, so the indictment from a one-person grand jury was returned in the wrong place. But Judge William Crawford II said prosecutors have flexibility about where to pursue a case.

If the former Republican governor goes to trial, a jury will be asked to determine if charges of willful neglect of duty occurred in the boundaries of Flint and Genesee County, Crawford said.

Ford Field hosts the Detroit Lions and monster truck shows. Starting next week, it will be the largest COVID-19 mass inoculation site in Michigan.

Ford Field is the marquee project to get Michigan to COVID-19 “herd immunity.” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the plan is to administer 6 thousand shots a day over 8 weeks.

“The vaccine train has officially left the station and it’s moving toward our shared destination of vaccinating 70 percent of Michiganders 16 and older.”

Committee to Protect Medicare logo
Committee to Protect Medicare

Michigan doctors representing the Committee to Protect Medicare are calling on Republican state lawmakers to work with Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer releasing federal COVID relief funding.

Three Michigan physicians from the Committee to Protect Medicare appeared via Zoom Tuesday.

“We’re raising our voices now because Republicans are doubling down on their game of chicken and putting public health at risk.”

Dr. Farhan Bhattie is Michigan State Lead of the Committee to protect Medicare.

Tesla logo
pngimg.com

For the second time this week, the U.S. government’s road safety agency is sending a team to investigate a Tesla crash in Michigan.

This time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sending a special crash investigation team because a Tesla using the company’s Autopilot partially automated driving system crashed into a State Police cruiser with flashing lights along a freeway.

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