City Pulse News Rewind is a look back at five noteworthy items that made the news over the last week.
MSU students return
As classes resume at Michigan State University, downtown East Lansing offered a modified summer look. The vast majority of the student body opted to stay put rather than live on or off campus for their virtual fall semester. East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens (back to the camera) attempts to convince coeds walking on Albert Avenue Saturday night to don masks, a requirement mandated by the City Council in downtown’s core. (For more on this story, see P. 8.)
Musical chairs at Lansing Fire Department
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor brought back a former Fire Department chief, Greg Martin, while he searches – again — for a permanent replacement. Schor hired Floridian Mike Mackey just last year to replace Randy Talifarro, who quit in 2018 and a year later blasted the mayor for alleged racism. Mackey announced his decision soon after seven current and former city employees jointly sued the mayor, the city and the firefighters’ union, claiming they were victims of racial bias. Mackey said his return to family in Florida is just coincidence, even though most of the plaintiffs, including Talifarro, are or were working for the Fire Department and another firefighter, Michael Lynn, has a separate suit against the city.
Lansing schools delay opening
More than 10,000 children have an extra week’s vacation after the Lansing School District postponed opening day to Tuesday, Sept. 8. They were set to return virtually, but an employee tested positive who had been in a number of buildings setting up learning labs. While students were to remain at home, plans for faculty to offer instruction from school buildings were postponed to allow for yet another deep cleaning. Superintendent Sam Sinicropi said the delay might have happened anyway because of a shortage of laptops and other digital equipment that the district is supplying students.
Last excuse for not exercising nearing end
Look for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow gyms in Mid-Michigan soon to reopen soon, along with movie theaters, bowling alleys and related venues, subject to mask wearing and social distancing. The governor allowed them to reopen in other regions in June but, based on COVID-19 cases, has kept them off limits in central and south Michigan.
In other pandemic-related news:
— Sparrow Health System reportedly is not going to follow new federal guidelines that recommend not testing those who remain asymptomatic after being exposed to the virus.
— Whitmer attacked a U.S. Justice Department demand for information on COVID-related incidents at nursing homes. She labeled it “political” because the only states singled out are all run by Democratic governors. The governor said Michigan will comply.
— Another milestone: Michigan will reduce reporting COVID-19 cases and fatalities to six days a week from seven, starting Sunday. “At this time, reporting on Sunday rather than Monday is not critical to our understanding of the virus,” said Robert Gordon, director of the state Health and Human Resources Department. “This change will allow staff who have not had a real day off since February to get some relief and allow the department to prioritize more valuable data reporting, including school outbreak information.”