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FRIDAY, May 22 — Greater Lansing could soon follow northern Michigan toward a broader economic reopening than other regions of Michigan hit by the pandemic, officials said.
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said today that because Ingham County — and much of Greater Lansing — has seen a sustained, downward trend in COVID-19 cases, the region is primed to take further steps toward reopening shuttered businesses and returning to normalcy.
“I think we’re poised to be one of the next areas to open,” Vail said. “We’ve been fairly steadily trending downward, with just a few upticks in cases this week. A complete reopening? That could take weeks, but I’d say we’re among the better positioned regions to take those steps.”
At least eight new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Greater Lansing since yesterday, along with a 25th virus-related death reported in Ingham County. The regional death toll now stands at 41 with at least 991 confirmed cases reported in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties to date.
Those daily spikes in cases, Vail said, have been gradually diminishing — a sure sign that the coronavirus curve is flattening locally and across Michigan. And whether a second spike of cases eventually arrives depends largely on how people handle social distancing, she said.
“It depends on how smart people are,” Vail said. “People have more power over this than they realize they do. There are lots of things people can do to protect themselves. People need to remember that the vast majority of transmissions happen from touching hands to your face.”
As Michigan gradually reengages retail nodes of its economy next week, Vail said residents must remember to stay vigilant, wear face coverings and keep a six-foot distance. A reckless disregard for the rules could play a major factor in whether restrictions continue to loosen.
“We’re enforcing things as fast as we can,” Vail added, noting the Lansing Police Department had plans to reinforce relaxed mask policies at two local businesses today. “We’re doing that enforcement. We just need to keep relying on employers to get the message across on safety.”
Swimming pools and splash pads may be closed for the unofficial beginning of summer this Memorial Day weekend, or even all season, but beaches will be open, the Detroit Free Press reports. And social distancing will be very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Officials said most of the 103 state parks in Michigan will have some type of body of water where there is a beach that will be open this weekend, including Belle Isle in Detroit. Visitors will be told to keep their social distance and spread out. Some parks may be closed to limit crowds.
Michigan State University will furlough 90 employees to cut costs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Lansing State Journal reports. At least 75 of the 90 employees work within residential and hospitality services and will be furloughed 30 days to six months.
Builders and contractors in Michigan have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's orders requiring them to take actions to protect workers from the spread of coronavirus, saying they are unconstitutional and greatly exceed her authority, the Detroit Free Press reports.
It argues that they are now subject to potentially enormous fines if they violate the orders, even though those fines were never authorized by the state Legislature under laws giving the governor authority to respond to emergencies or approved through the regulatory process.
While Whitmer’s orders allow health care providers to resume nonessential medical and dental procedures beginning on May 29, it could take months for hospital systems to process the backlog, according to recent reports from Bridge Magazine. Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, for example, currently has a backlog of about 8,000 postponed surgical procedures.
President Donald Trump targeted Attorney General Dana Nessel — calling her a “do nothing AG” — on Twitter yesterday after she insisted he wear a mask during a tour of a Ford plant in Rawsonville and blasted Ford for its failure to make him wear one, reports the Detroit News.
Nessel fired back that she was impressed he knew her name after earlier criticisms from the president mentioned Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson only by their titles.
MLive reports that blatant sexism and violent threats have become a prominent feature of backlash to Whitmer’s orders in recent months A series of rebellious protests, supported by private social media groups, elevated sexist rhetoric and calls to end her emergency orders.
At North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin — an immigrant prison — 70 inmates and 23 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus, the Detroit Free Press reports. It’s the highest number of COVID-19 cases tracked among inmates in privately-run prisons across the U.S.
To date, at least 3,275 prisoners in Michigan have contracted COVID-19. Sixty have died.
The Detroit Free Press reports that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been granted early release from prison amid COVID-19 fears. Kilpatrick’s former brother-in-law confirmed it, though a spokesperson from the Federal Bureau of Prisons would not comment on the report.
The East Lansing Downtown Management Board is considering applying for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s’ Match on Main COVID-19 response program for businesses located in the local DMB boundary. The competitive grant program provides the opportunity for up to 25 small businesses to receive $2,000 each in grant assistance.
For the DMB to apply, individual business information must be submitted with the grant application materials. Businesses interested in participating must complete Appendix C of the application at https://www.miplace.org/match-on-main and submit it to DMB Director Amy Schlusler-Schmitt at email@example.com by 10 .m. Tuesday.
If more than 25 businesses who meet the eligibility requirements submit Appendix C materials to the DMB by the deadline, an impartial grant review committee may be convened (which would not include DMB members) and businesses would be selected to be part of the grant application using criteria developed by the MEDC by Thursday. The DMB would need to submit its grant application by the program deadline, which is May 29.
The city of East Lansing is offering a third round of no-fee yard waste collection this June, though bulk item collection will continue to be suspended until June 15. Yard waste will be collected on the east side of the city on June 1 and the west side of the city on June 8.
Regular yard waste and bulk item collection will resume by request on June 15. Call 517-337-9459 with questions on weekdays (except May 25) from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In the numbers…
Michigan tracked at least another 403 coronavirus statewide cases this afternoon with another 29 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count to nearly 54,000 with nearly 5,200 deaths.
Cases — 679 (+5)
Recoveries — 368
Recovery Rate — 54.2%
Deaths — 25 (+1)
Fatality Rate — 3.7%
State officials reported 682 cases in Ingham County today, but County Health Officer Linda Vail suspects those listings may have erroneously included patients from outside of Greater Lansing.
As of earlier this afternoon, zip code 48911 tracks 201-210 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 71-80 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 61-70 cases. Zip code 48854 and 48906 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip code 48864 tracks 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842 and 48912 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip codes 48917, 48840, and 48895 each track 11-20 cases. Zip codes 48285, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 1-10 cases.
Cases — 173 (+3)
Recoveries — 150
Recovery Rate — 86.7%
Deaths — 6 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 3.5%
Cases — 136 (-2)
Deaths — 10 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 7.4%
The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.
Cases — 53,913 (+403)
Recoveries — 28,234 (as of 5/15/20)
Recovery Rate — 52.4%
Deaths — 5,158 (+29)
Fatality Rate — 9.6%
State reports show that about 63% of cases (and 78% of deaths) are reported from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Other hotspots include Kent County with 6% of cases, Genesee County with 3.6% of cases, Washtenaw County with 2.4% of cases, Saginaw County with 1.8% of cases, Kalamazoo with 1.4% of cases and Ingham County with 1.3% of cases statewide. Additionally, about 6.1% of cases, or 3,275 cases (and 60 deaths) have also been reported among state prisoners at the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Caucasians account for 36% of cases and 51% of deaths reported in Michigan. Despite accounting for a substantially smaller segment of the statewide population, African Americans account for 31% of cases and 40% of coronavirus-related deaths reported across Michigan.
Cases — 1,591,245
Deaths — 95,533
Fatality Rate — 6%
Michigan reports the seventh most cases of any state in the country, behind only New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Michigan ranks fourth in the country in virus-related deaths, behind only New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.