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WEDNESDAY, May 20 — Attorney General Dana Nessel has sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that he wear a mask while visiting a Ford Motor. Co. plant in Ypsilanti tomorrow.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Nessel sent a letter to the president today, effectively noting that Trump’s upcoming visit amid the coronavirus pandemic violates Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s rules against nonessential factory tours because they could spread the virus.
Trump was uncertain about whether he planned to wear a mask during a briefing this week, though Vice President Mike Pence refused to wear one during facility tours, although he subsequently started wearing one.
Whitmer and Nessel have said they will not make further requests or any attempts to stop Trump from visiting the Ford plant tomorrow despite current regulations against the practice.
Trump also took to Twitter this morning to attack Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s plan to send absentee ballot applications to qualified Michigan voters ahead of the August and November elections, reports the Detroit News. Trump erroneously said Benson planned to send ballots when she instead plans to legally send applications for the ballots ahead of the elections.
State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks announced today that a total of $2.7 million will be given to 14 municipalities through the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships grant program. Included on that list is a $210,000 grant that’ll be sent to the city of Lansing.
Municipalities that receive grants can use them to fund specific projects, services or strategies, including infrastructure and public safety enhancements, that move a city, village or township toward financial stability. Lansing will use the cash to replace equipment at its Fire Department.
Hundreds gathered at the Michigan State Capitol earlier this afternoon to protest and openly defy Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders that prohibit many nonessential businesses — including salons and barbershops — from opening until May 28.
Crowds formed lines that, at some points, stretched from the Capitol steps to Capitol Avenue as many waited to get haircuts as part of the Michigan Conservative Coalition’s latest protest, “Operation Haircut.” The same group organized Operation Gridlock in April.
According to MLive, another rally is planned for the Capitol from 1-5 p.m. on May 31. This time, they’re inviting dog groomers, massage therapists, hair stylists and other small business employees to participate in a “Michigander’s Marketplace” on the Michigan State Capitol lawn.
An employee at a manufacturing plant in Grand Ledge told City Pulse he doesn’t feel safe at work during the COVID-19 pandemic. And an optional mask policy hasn’t made it any easier.
Whitmer’s latest executive order tasks various state agencies already responsible for workplace health and safety standards with also monitoring compliance with face mask requirements. Businesses that fail to provide (and sometimes require) masks, under law, have also failed to provide a hazard-free workplace under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Violations for a “serious” OSHA violation could carry a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation, eventually leading to criminal charges for repeated and willful lawbreaking practices. It’s unclear if mask-related violations qualify as “serious.” The legal standard hasn’t been tested.
A person who tested positive for COVID-19 attempted to board a plane in Lansing last week but was stopped in the airport after local health officials issued a cease-and-desist order, reports the Lansing State Journal. The airport was reportedly tipped off by Ingham Co. Health Officer Linda Vail, who said a cease-and-desist order was necessary after the patient resisted quarantine.
Michigan has provided nearly 1.4 million unemployed residents with more than $5.62 billion in benefits since the pandemic arrived. The latest statistics show that 92% of eligible claimants have received benefits or have been approved to receive benefits over the coming weeks.
“We’re counting on the federal government to work together to provide additional flexibility and aid for states like Michigan to continue supporting essential services like health care, education, and police and fire departments,” Whitmer said in a statement today.
Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin voted yes on the federal HEROES Act that provides cash for both local governments and their residents. The bill, which was sent to the Senate, would provide more than $13.4 billion in governmental aid and expand the existing Paycheck Protection Program from 8 to 24 weeks.
The bill would also issue a second round of $1,200 direct payments — including an additional $1,200 per dependent for up to three dependents per family, among other financial assistance.
Michigan's unemployment rate reached 22.7% in April, according to reports in the Detroit News. Jobless numbers from Michigan are now worse than those posted during the Great Recession.
Some inmates at a prison in Lenawee County — where nearly one third of the population has tested positive for the coronavirus — caused a disturbance yesterday when they refused to return to their cells out of fear of the coronavirus, according to recent reports from MLive.
As warmer weather approaches, so does Michigan’s U-pick season. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development outlined some key protocols today that U-pick operations should be implementing to protect both their employees and customers.
Under law, operators must develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and screen staff for flu-like symptoms every day. Personal protective equipment, such as face coverings and gloves, will be required for employees working close to one another.
Additionally, in-person contact should be minimized to the maximum extent possible. Berry-picking guests should be spaced out by a minimum of at least six feet, including in sales or field areas or while waiting in any lines on the premises. All families must remain six feet apart.
In the numbers…
At least 13 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.
With no deaths reported in Greater Lansing today, the regional death toll stands at 39 with at least 971 confirmed cases reported in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties within recent months.
Michigan tracked at least another 659 coronavirus statewide cases this afternoon with another 43 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count past 53,000 with more than 5,000 deaths.
Cases — 667 (+10)
Recoveries — 270
Recovery Rate — 40.5%
Deaths — 23 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 3.4%
As of yesterday, zip code 48911 tracks 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.
Cases — 168 (+3)
Recoveries — 147
Recovery Rate — 87.5%
Deaths — 6 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 3.6%
Cases — 136 (No change)
Deaths — 10 (No change)
Fatality Rate — 7.4%
The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.
Cases — 53,009 (+659)
Recoveries — 28,234 (as of 5/15/20)
Recovery Rate — 53.3%
Deaths — 5,060 (+43)
Fatality Rate — 9.5%
State reports show that about 64% 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 5.7% 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% of cases, or 3,195 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 — 1,539,633
Deaths — 92,645
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.