Coronavirus in Michigan: Day 70

Reports: Judge recognizes Whitmer’s ‘broad authority’ amid lawsuit

Court of Claims judge rejects injunction to invalidate executive orders

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TUESDAY, May 19 — A Michigan Court of Claims judge handed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a small legal victory this afternoon, holding both the Emergency Management Act and Emergency Powers of Governor Act “confer broad authority” to enact executive orders, reports MIRS News.

Today’s ruling reportedly rejected Michigan United for Liberty’s request for a preliminary injunction that could’ve invalidated Whitmer’s executive orders, including the sweeping stay-at-home order and closure of nonessential businesses across most of the state.

“History will determine whether the governor is judiciously exercising this authority in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to an order from Court of Claims Judge Michael J. Kelly.

While today’s decision doesn’t close that case, it arrived as Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature continues to push forward with another lawsuit — in the same state courtroom — that challenges Whitmer’s emergency authorities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Oral arguments in that litigation began last week. A ruling could arrive sometime this week, though the case is destined for an appeal and further litigation at the state’s Supreme Court.

Across Michigan…

New national polling data, which was shared by The Washington Post, shows that 49 of 50 governors — including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — have significantly higher approval ratings for their coronavirus responses than President Donald Trump has tracked in other recent polls. 

Whitmer joined the 3rd hour of TODAY on NBC News today to discuss Michigan’s reopening plan and also reportedly spoke about the search for a running mate for Joe Biden.

During the interview, she warned that further relaxing restrictions in her current stay-at-home order could prompt a second wave of COVID-19 cases and require “steps backward.” She also said she was in “opening conversations” with Biden over a possible vice presidency selection.

“I am making a little bit of time to stay connected to the campaign, but the most important thing that I have to do right now is be the governor of my home state,” Whitmer said in the interview.

Whitmer signed an executive order today that extends already increased operational capacities for pharmacists and expands access to prescriptions for residents in need during the pandemic. Pharmacists can now dispense refills for up to 60 days. Insurers must cover refills for 90 days.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission, in anticipation of further plans to reopen Michigan’s economy, announced plans today to streamline licensing for outdoor services and additional bar permits. The goal: Get licensees “back to business in a safe and profitable way,” officials said.

The commission is now streamlining the application process for outdoor service expansions or new requests for the summer season, in addition to adding a new type of liquor merchant license that allows for unopened beer and wine to be taken off the premises for consumption.

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, opposed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, told a crowd of about 350 in Grand Rapids that the governor’s quarantine measures are akin to mass arrest of the state’s residents, according to recent reports from MLive. Though other sheriffs disagree with the orders, he was the only sheriff to speak at an event titled “Sheriffs speak out.”

Michigan United for Liberty is returning the weekend after next with an event it says will feature "food, live music and vendors” at its “open market” beginning 1 p.m. on May 31, reports the Detroit Free Press. The event will also include arts and crafts, beauticians, massage therapy and more.

"The people of Michigan are fed up with the governor's lockdown orders and will not be intimidated by her empty threats," organizer Jenny Darling told the Detroit Free Press. "It's long past time to re-open Michigan, and we are going to lead by example."

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson decided formally today to mail all of Michigan’s 7.7 million voters an absentee voter application for the August and November elections, reports the Detroit News. She previously said she would focus on “educating” voters on their right to vote absentee for no reason.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Detroit is ready for retail businesses to reopen just as soon as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives them permission, according to reports in the Detroit Free Press. Duggan also said Detroiters who want to be checked for COVID-19 can get a free test starting Wednesday.

In the numbers…

At least 10 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded across Greater Lansing by state officials earlier today, with no additional deaths tracked since yesterday afternoon. Statistics — both locally and across Michigan — have also shown a downward trend in coronavirus cases.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail reported today that of the 649 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the county, more than 96% of the patients are either fully recovered or are continuing to recover at home. Only three patients are hospitalized, with one in intensive care.

With no deaths reported in Greater Lansing today, the regional death toll stands at 39 with at least 958 confirmed cases reported in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties within recent months.

Michigan tracked at least another 435 coronavirus statewide cases this afternoon with another 102 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count past 52,000 with more than 5,000 deaths.

At least 43 of the deaths tracked statewide were a result of death certificate reviews that are conducted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services three times per week. Those records include confirmed COVID-19 cases as a contributing factor in recent deaths.

Ingham County                        

Cases — 657 (+9)

Recoveries — 270

Recovery Rate — 41.1%

Deaths — 23 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 3.5%

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 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.

Eaton County                 

Cases — 165 (No change)

Recoveries — 144   

Recovery Rate — 87.3% 

Deaths — 6 (No change)        

Fatality Rate — 3.6%    

Clinton County                                                                    

Cases — 136 (+1)  

Deaths — 10 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 7.4%                                              

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

Michigan                        

Cases — 52,350 (+435)

Recoveries — 28,234 (as of 5/15/20)                

Recovery Rate — 53.9%

Deaths — 5,017 (+102)

Fatality Rate — 9.6% 

State reports show that about 65% 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 5.6% 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 1.2% of cases statewide. Additionally, about 6% of cases, or 3,122 cases (and 60 deaths) have also been reported among state prisoners at the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Caucasians account for 36% of cases and 50% 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.

U.S.                  

Cases — 1,523,534

Deaths — 91,570

Fatality Rate — 6%

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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