Coronavirus in Michigan: Day 66

Parking tickets return to Lansing as businesses reopen

Ingham County tracks two additional COVID-19 deaths today

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FRIDAY, May 15 — Get ready to feed the meter. Parking tickets are coming back to Lansing.

After suspending enforcement of most parking violations across Lansing amid the statewide lockdown, city officials announced today that some ticketing will resume by Monday with maximum stay limits again enforced across metered and unmetered city parking spaces.

The move coincides with the slow reengagement of Michigan’s economy in recent weeks with restrictions having been eased on landscaping, construction and other outdoor enterprises.

Beginning Monday, anyone parking longer than the maximum stay, such as two hours on Washington Square, will be subject to a violation. Downtown parking garages will also return to normal operations on Monday. Typical permits and fees for those spaces will again apply.

By June 1, enforcement of metered parking will also resume — with changes. The minimum stay at parking pay stations will be reduced from one hour to 15 minutes. A 30-cent fee has also been added to all credit card transactions to help offset the city’s parking expenses.

The city’s latest ordinance on overnight parking will also be enforced on June 1. All residents that park on streets between 2-5 a.m. will be required to have a permit or risk citations. Additional details and an application process are available at lansingmi.gov/parking.

City officials said that resuming parking enforcement will help support businesses as they reopen their doors, as well as downtown workers as they begin to return to their jobs. After the pandemic first hit, only safety hazards or blocked streets had been enforced by city officials.

In Greater Lansing…

A conservative advocacy group is encouraging hairdressers across Michigan to violate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders and give free haircuts on the State Capitol lawn from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday. The demonstration has been dubbed as “Operation Haircut.”

Organizers said the act of civil disobedience was largely inspired by Owosso barber Karl Manke, who was ticketed, had his license temporarily suspended and was ordered to close his shop. Free haircuts — with social distancing precautions and other safety measures — will be available to those who choose to attend, though the haircuts themselves remain illegal.

Organizers warned guests who fail to comply with social distancing measures to watch out for the “Whitmer police.” People providing haircuts will be unable to remain six feet away from those who receive them, though cops don’t tend to ticket those violations anyway.

***

The East Lansing Downtown Development Authority awarded 57 businesses with $2,500 Business Relief Program grants during its first round of funding yesterday. A total of 76 applications were received. Businesses were selected based, in part, on financial struggles tied to COVID-19. Those awarded grant funds are expected to be distributed Monday.

The DDA also approved a second round of $2,500 grants that will be distributed to dozens of additional businesses next month. The application for that round opens June 2 and closes June 5. Businesses delinquent on taxes will be eligible if payments are made by June 1.

***

The next virtual East Lansing City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 19.

East Lansing officials are also advising residents of upcoming, construction-related road sidewalk closures on East Grand River Avenue that begins Monday. The first phase of the project will close sidewalks from M.A.C. Avenue to the west of Target until at least Thursday.

Across Michigan…

Whitmer announced the creation of a “Return to Learning” advisory council today to formalize a process that’ll determine how schools can reopen in the fall. She said it’s here hope that in-person learning will be able to resume later this year, depending on the virus’ spread.

The 25-member panel, with students, parents, teachers, administrators and public health officials, will be tasked with providing state officials with recommendations on how to safely, equitably, and efficiently return to school this Fall. Its members haven’t yet been appointed by Whitmer.

“This panel will use a data-informed and science-based approach with input from epidemiologists to determine if, when, and how students can return to school this fall and what that will look like,” Whitmer explained in a press release detailing the newly announced initiative.

Schools have been closed to students since March 16. And before they can reopen, the advisory council must consult experts in public health and epidemiology to hash out a plan. Those interested in an appointment to the advisory group can visit michigan.gov/appointments.

***

At the Michigan Court of Claims, oral arguments formally began today over Whitmer’s ability to issue executive orders and maintain a state of emergency declaration amid the pandemic in Michigan. Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature opted to file the litigation earlier this month.

The Detroit Free Press reports that a ruling could arrive as soon as next week, though the case is destined for an appeal and a possible continued legal battle at the Michigan Supreme Court.

Republicans don’t believe Whitmer has the authority to issue and enforce executive orders given that the Legislature hasn’t voted to extend a state of emergency in Michigan. Whitmer, leaning on another state statute, argued that she has that authority during certain health crises.

If the court sides with the Republicans, every order that Whitmer has issued throughout the coronavirus pandemic — including her stay-at-home order — could be invalid, MLive reports.

Attorneys representing Whitmer said under the law passed by previous legislatures, her “duty to declare an emergency if conditions persist requires it,” reports the Detroit Free Press. Lawyers for the Republicans said the orders unfairly grant “limitless, unilateral and temporally unbounded authority … for as long as the governor wishes.” No decisions had been reached this afternoon.

***

A state economic and revenue consensus was reached today for the next few fiscal years. And Whitmer, at a press briefing this afternoon, said the outlook was “grim. She also said she was holding out hope for federal relief before deciding on how to make millions in budget cuts.

The Detroit News reports that Michigan will experience a roughly $3.2 billion shortfall in its current budget, including a $2 billion drop in tax revenue and a $900 million decrease in revenue to the state’s School Aid Fund compared to revenues from the 2019 budget.

To call the estimates "sobering" is an understatement, State Budget Director Chris Kolb said. The shortfall could force cuts before the end of September unless the federal government provides additional financial aid. No such funding agreement, however, has yet been decided.

***

Whitmer signed another executive order today to extend protections for tenants and mobile home owners from being evicted from their home during the pandemic. The order ensures tenants can remain in their homes amid the pandemic, even if they fail to pay their monthly rent.

Another newly signed executive order expanded telehealth options for residents by authorizing health care providers to use these services when appropriate and after getting consent from their patients. Under the order, health care services like mental health care, drug treatment and other home health services may be provided via video conferencing through at least June 8.

Confidential emotional support counseling, thanks to a federal grant, is also now available 24/7 at no cost to Michigan residents who call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136. Callers are asked to press “8” if they would like to speak with a certified, though unlicensed, professional counselor. Additional emotional support resources are also available at michigan.gov/staywell.

***

Tina Godfrey, owner of Abbie’s First Cut, a barbershop located in Cadillac, is defying Whitmer’s orders and will reopen during the stay-at-home order amid the pandemic, Up North Live reports.

A Detroit man has also been accused of making credible threats to kill Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, the Detroit Free Press reports. He has since been charged with a false report or threat of terrorism based on social media messages he sent on April 14, reports state.

In the numbers…

At least 14 cases of COVID-19 across Greater Lansing and two virus-related deaths in Ingham County were reported by state officials today. The regional death toll stands at 37 with at least 926 confirmed cases reported across Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties in recent months.

Michigan tracked at least another 497 coronavirus statewide cases this afternoon with another 38 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count past 50,000 with more than 4,800 deaths.

Ingham County                       

Cases — 632 (+13)

Recoveries — 261

Recovery Rate — 41.5%

Deaths — 21 (+2)

Fatality Rate — 3.2%

As of today, zip code 48911 tracks at least 191-201 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 71-80 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 61-70 cases. Zip code 48854 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip codes 48906 and 48864 each track 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842 and 48912 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip code 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.  

Eaton County                

Cases — 162 (+1)

Recoveries — 132     

Recovery Rate — 81.5%   

Deaths — 6 (No change)          

Fatality Rate — 3.7%      

Clinton County                                                               

Cases — 132 (+3)    

Deaths — 10 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 7.6%                                                            

The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.                  

Michigan                       

Cases — 50,079 (+497)

Recoveries — 22,686 (as of 5/8/20)               

Recovery Rate — 45.3% 

Deaths — 4,825 (+38)

Fatality Rate — 9.6%   

State reports show that about 66% of cases (and 79% of deaths) are reported from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Other hotspots include Kent County with 5.4% of cases, Genesee County with 3.7% of cases, Washtenaw County with 2.5% 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 4.4% of cases, or 2,227 cases (and 56 deaths) have also been reported among state prisoners at the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Caucasians account for 35% of cases and 50% of deaths reported in Michigan. Despite accounting for a substantially smaller segment of the statewide population, African Americans account for 32% of cases and 40% of coronavirus-related deaths reported across Michigan.

U.S.                     

Cases — 1,432,045

Deaths — 86,851

Fatality Rate — 6.1%

Source: CNN          

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.

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