Live Updates: Coronavirus In The Lansing Region

May 22, 2020

Credit Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / CDC

Regular updates from WKAR News about the regional response to the pandemic.

Para obtener información sobre COVID-19 en español, haga clic aquí.

6:22 p.m. Fri. 5/22/20

Michigan’s Safer At Home order has been extended until June 12, 2020. The state of emergency declaration has also been extended until June 19. 

Gov. Whitmer announced the extensions Friday. Executive Order 2020-99 extending the state of emergency can be read here. Executive Order 2020-100 extending the at home order can be read here.

On Memorial Day, Governor Whitmer directs that flags should be briefly brought to full-staff before being lowered to honor fallen service members.

The state encourages local governments, schools, businesses and Michigan residents to fly their flags at half-staff until noon on May 25, 2020. After noon, flags can remain at full-staff.

– Amanda Barberena

6:22 p.m. Fri. 5/22/20

Every Michigan prisoner has been tested for COVID-19, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Prisoners with symptoms were tested in March. In mid-April, MDOC began testing all prisoners.

With help from the National Guard, all prisoners were tested in less than 15 days.

According to MDOC, final results should be available next week. The full release can be read here.

– Amanda Barberena

 

12:00 p.m. Thur. 5/21/20

Retail businesses and auto dealerships will reopen by appointment statewide on Tuesday May 26.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Signed executive order 2020-96 Thursday authorizing the reopenings as part of her MI SAFE Start plan.

Effective immediately the order also authorizes small gatherings of 10 people or less as long as social distancing is practiced.

The requirement to delay nonessential medical dental and veterinary procedures will also be lifted on Friday, May 29 as part of the order.

As part of executive order 2020-97, reopened outpatient health-care facilities will have to adopt strict protocols to prevent infection. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory affairs will issue guidance to those facilities.

5:44 p.m. Tues. 5/19/20

Pharmacists' powers have been extended until June 16.

Under Executive Order 2020-93, pharmacists will continue to have the following expanded abilities:

  • Refill prescriptions for patients up to 60 days’ worth of supply.
  • Dispense COVID-19 treatment according to government-approved protocols.

Insurers must also cover up to 90 days’ worth of a prescription’s supply.

– Amanda Barberena

2:05 p.m. Mon. 5/18/20

Two regions in northern Michigan will be allowed to partially reopen on Friday. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-92 Monday, allowing for the reopening of retail businesses, office work that cannot be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating.

 

The partial reopening affects MERC regions 6 and 8 outlined in Governor Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan, located in the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City area.

All businesses that choose to reopen must adhere to the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91. The order, also signed by Whitmer Monday, mandates that businesses provide COVID-19 training to employees. Additionally, businesses that resume in-person work must develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and make it available to employees and customers by June 1.

- Karel Vega

7:17 p.m. Fri. 5/15/20

Laboratory research is allowed to resume.

Following Executive Order 2020-90 signed by Gov. Whitmer Friday, there are strict precautionary measures that labs must take.

A full list of guidelines can be found here. This does not include diagnostic testing.

– Amanda Barberena

9:58 p.m. Thur. 5/14/20

Evictions have been temporarily suspended through June 11.

Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-85 Thursday which extends her previous order that if tenants and mobile home owners are unable to pay their rent, they can still remain in their homes.

Through June 10, telehealth options have been expanded. Telehealth is a virtual way for health care providers to check in with patients.

Executive Order 2020-86 requires that insurance companies cover telehealth sessions including mental health care, drug treatment and home health services.

– Amanda Barberena

10:23 a.m. Wed. 5/13/20

The temporary change for regulatory requirements for care facilities and hospitals has been extended until June 9.

Executive Order 2020-82 waives requirements to bring additional care facilities online. 

The order, signed by Gov. Whitmer Tuesday, also gives the Licensing and Regulatory department flexibility regarding registration, licensing and workflow requirements so more care providers can aid the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Amanda Barberena

1:15 p.m. Mon. 5/11/20

The Michigan Capitol Commission has voted to create a special subcommittee. It  will review whether to ban openly carrying firearms in some parts of the building and on the Capitol grounds.

That was proposed following a rally where many protestors of stay-home orders carried guns. Attorney General Dana Nessel says the commission can ban guns. The attorney for the commission says that would take a change in the state's open-carry gun law.  

-Rick Pluta

7:11 p.m. Fri. 5/8/20

The expiration date of some forms of I.D. and registration have been temporarily extended until July 31

According to Executive Order 2020-78, the following documents’ expiration date has been extended: state identification cards, driver’s licenses and operator endorsements.

Penalties for those with vehicle registration violations has been suspended as well.

These terms do not apply to motorists with suspended or revoked licenses.

– Amanda Barberena

8:41 p.m. Thur. 5/7/20

Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order has been extended to May 28. Manufacturers are allowed to return to work starting May 11. 

Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-77 Thursday, saying manufacturers must adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines and inform workers about the virus and how it’s spread.

Whitmer also announced her six phase Michigan Safe Start Plan. The six phases of the COVID-19 pandemic are: uncontrolled growth, persistent spread, flattening, improving, containing and post-pandemic.

The governor said Michigan is currently in the third phase: flattening, meaning the health system can meet the needs of patients and the number of new cases are slowing.

The full MI Safe Start Plan can be found here.

– Amanda Barberena

9:22 p.m. Wed. 5/6/20

Unemployment eligibility has been expanded further. Benefits have been expedited so more people in Michigan can receive them sooner. 

Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-76 Wednesday which said that the state will only review an individual’s most recent job to determine their unemployment benefits.

The expansions established in Executive Order 2020-57 are still in place.

– Amanda Barberena

11:04 a.m. Wed. 5/6/20

The Legislature’s Republican leaders have sued Governor Gretchen Whitmer over how she’s used her emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

The action was filed Wednesday in the Michigan Court of Claims. GOP leaders say she's exceeded her authority and shut out the legislative branch.

5:06 p.m. Mon. 5/4/20

Following Michigan’s liquor buyback order, $3.3 million in financial relief will be divided between 657 businesses. 

In mid-April, Executive Order 2020-46 encouraged restaurants and bars to apply for licensees that allowed the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to buy their spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the state emergency is over, businesses have 90 days to repurchase their inventory.

– Amanda Barberena

3:09 p.m. Mon. 5/4/20

The time frame an individual has to decide what to do with a person who has died from COVID-19 has shortened. 

An emergency order issued Monday stated that hospitals and funeral directors are allowed 24 hours to contact a person that has authority regarding funeral and body disposition decisions for a deceased person.

If someone is reached within 24 hours, then that individual has 48 hours from the time the COVID-19 victim has died to make funeral and body disposition arrangements.

If the hospital and/or funeral directors cannot contact someone, the decision is made by the county medical examiner.

– Amanda Barberena

9:30 p.m. Fri. 5/1/20

Businesses that present a very low risk of infection can resume work starting May 7. 

Gov. Whitmer stated in Executive Order 2020-70 that some forms of work can reopen including real-estate activities, construction and other jobs primarily performed outdoors.

Businesses that plan to open must incorporate the following guidelines:

  • Employees must have daily health screenings at specific entry points to ensure all workers have been screened;
  • Handwashing and hand-sanitizing stations must be accessible;
  • All employees must wear a form of face covering in enclosed public spaces;
  • Areas where people may be closer than six feet must be identified and controlled; and,
  • A site supervisor must be designated to control COVID-19 safety practices.

– Amanda Barberena

9:55 p.m. Thur. 4/30/20

Public accommodation places like theaters, bars and casinos will remain temporarily closed through May 28. 

Gov. Whitmer extended her previous order Thursday by signing Executive Order 2020-69.

Businesses are still able to offer food and beverage services through carry out and delivery methods, but they must continue taking precautions. For pick up, five people are allowed inside a restaurant at once, but they must stay six feet apart.

These restrictions do not apply to the following businesses: grocery stores, markets, food pantries, pharmacies, drug stores, and providers of medical equipment and supplies, health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, office buildings, and juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, and industrial and manufacturing facilities.

– Amanda Barberena

8:40 p.m. Thur. 4/30/20

Gov. Whitmer clarified and expanded preschool and K-12 temporary closures. 

She signed Executive Order 2020-65 Thursday which requires the Great State Readiness Program to provide a plan on how to prepare and engage current preschoolers, so they are ready for kindergarten in the fall. GSRP teachers must also have virtual meetings with families.

In K-12 schools, teacher evaluations are temporarily suspended.

School districts must create a plan for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year that is accessible for all students. Districts also have the option to start classes for the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day.

– Amanda Barberena

5:39 p.m. Wed. 4/29/20

Health care facilities must offer equitable access to health care for all. 

Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-64 Wednesday which reaffirms that non-discriminatory practices are followed at health care facilities.

In case demand exceeds availability of resources, protocols have been created so there is no discrimination in decisions made.

Language interpreters must be provided if requested, and they must wear proper protective gear.

All information regarding resources and the ability to transfer patients must be shared with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

– Amanda Barberena

3:08 p.m. Wed. 4/29/20

Essential workers can receive a tuition-free college education under a new initiative from the state of Michigan. 

Governor Whitmer announced the G.I. bill called “Futures for Frontliners” on Wednesday. The bill is for the following frontline workers who have not received a college education or technical certificate:

  • Hospital and nursing home staff
  • Grocery store workers
  • Child care providers
  • Public safety workers
  • Personal protection equipment manufacturers
  • Garbage collectors
  • Delivery workers

Essential workers can receive a technical certificate, associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Gov. Whitmer also announced an expansion of the Workshare Program Wednesday. Employers can reduce employee hours so their employees can receive unemployment insurance benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

– Amanda Barberena

2:48 p.m. Wed. 4/29/20

$130 million has been invested into Michigan’s childcare. 

The Child Care Relief Fund, announced by Gov. Whitmer Wednesday, will aid child care providers with non-competitive grants.

In order to receive assistance, child care providers must reduce weekly rates by at least 10% and provide care to children of essential workers, no matter where they work. Applications can be found here.

– Amanda Barberena

5:30 p.m. Mon. 4/27/20

City of East Lansing offices will remain temporarily closed until May 18

On Thursday, April 30 at 9 a.m., the East Lansing City Council will consider extending the city’s local state of emergency. Specifics about the electronic meeting, including how to watch or submit public comments, can be found here.

More information, including temporary closures, can be found at the City of East Lansing website.

– Amanda Barberena

1:50 p.m. Mon. 4/27/20

Personal protection orders that would expire during the COVID-19 pandemic have been extended

Executive Order 2020-63, signed by Gov. Whitmer Monday, states the extension is in effect until July 21, 2020.

Whitmer said those who have filed protection orders because of threats, stalking and/or abuse should be able to stay in their home without added fear.

– Amanda Barberena

11:02 a.m. Fri. 4/24/20

The Stay Home Stay Safe order has been extended through May 15, with modifications. Gov. Whitmer signed the new executive order Friday.

People are required to wear homemade masks, not medical grade, in enclosed public places. Employers are also required to provide their employees with cloth masks. People may travel between residences.

With social distancing implemented, the following jobs can go back to work: lawn-service companies, nurseries and landscapers.

Previously closed areas in stores, like garden centers, can reopen.

Curbside pick-up and delivery is allowed for retailers that do not sell necessary supplies.

State parks will remain open. People can now golf, without golf carts, and motorized boating is allowed.

You can read the full order here.

– Amanda Barberena

9:50 p.m. Thur. 4/23/20

Michigan front-line health care workers will temporarily receive a pay increase

Workers providing Medicaid-funded in-home behavioral health and those providing long-term care services for children and adults will receive a $2 per hour pay raise. Gov. Whitmer made the announcement Thursday.

– Amanda Barberena

11:15 a.m. Thur. 4/23/20

Unemployment benefits in Michigan have been extended. 

Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-57 Wednesday which builds upon the past expansions.

More tools are offered to employers to avoid layoffs; unemployment benefits are expanded to those who quit their job because of the pandemic; and the state’s workshare program is expanded.

Previous orders are still in place. They can be read here.

– Amanda Barberena

9:02 p.m. Tues. 4/21/20

Pharmacists’ enhanced abilities are extended through May 19

Pharmacists can issue up to 60 days’ worth of prescription refills, and insurance companies must cover up to 90 days’ worth of early refills.

COVID-19 treatments may be dispensed by pharmacists if government approved.

These changes were stated in an earlier executive order and were extended by Gov. Whitmer Tuesday. A full list of pharmacist responsibilities can be found here.

– Amanda Barberena

2:28 p.m. Tues. 4/21/20

The Michigan Task Force on Racial Disparities has been formed to work together to solve the disproportionality of communities impacted by COVID-19. 

According to officials, African Americans represent 40% of COVID-19 deaths, yet they represent 13.6% of Michigan’s total population.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the executive order Monday, with Lt. Governor Gilchrist leading the task force. A full list of task force members and the specifics they plan to address can be found here.

– Amanda Barberena

6:52 p.m. Fri. 4/17/20

Through May 15, evictions are temporarily suspended and price gouging restrictions are enhanced.

According to Executive Order 2020-54 signed by Gov. Whitmer, if residents are unable to pay rent, they cannot be evicted. Landlords cannot demand a tenant to leave the property if rent is unpaid.

Executive Order 2020-53, also signed by the governor, stated that people cannot charge more than 20% of an item’s original price. Exceptions are as follows:

  • Items that are non-emergency and cost more than $1,000;
  • Items were bought at a significant discount as of March 9; and,
  • If the cost to bring the item to market increases, then the cost of the item can also increase.  

– Amanda Barberena

2:43 p.m. Thur. 4/16/20

Midwest leaders are partnering together to safely reopen the regional economy

Gov. Whitmer joins the following governors to establish steps to best move forward: Mike DeWine (OH), Eric Holocomb (IN), JB Pritzker (IL), Tony Evers (WI), Tim Walz (MN) and Andy Beshear (KY).

The four factors they are using to best determine when to allow businesses to reopen and for people to leave their homes freely are as follows:

  • Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations;
  • Enhanced ability to test and trace;
  • Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence; and,
  • Best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

Whitmer said this partnership does not mean that every state listed above will follow the same steps at the same time.

– Amanda Barberena

1:15 p.m. Thur. 4/16/20

Michigan State University announced temporary financial cuts in response to the COVID-19 crisis

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley announced Thursday that effective immediately, he will be taking a 10% pay cut, as will MSU executives; cuts will be between 2% and 7%. He said he anticipates it lasting through May or June, but it could be for a full year.

The following have been greatly reduced: outside consulting, services and purchases; travel expenditures and conferences.

Stanley also said many construction or remodeling projects will be delayed or modified.

A livestream will be held Monday, April 20 at 3 p.m. for faculty and staff. Questions can be submitted here. The meeting will be recorded and available for viewing later.

– Amanda Barberena

12:42 p.m. Thur. 4/16/20

Disaster relief child care service capacity is extended until May 13 for essential workers

Executive Order 2020-51, signed by Gov. Whitmer Thursday, stated that school facilities can be used for child care, and some regulatory restrictions are temporarily lifted.

Employers, including hospitals, can operate child care centers as well.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs can temporarily issue expedited provisional licenses so more child care service facilities can open.

– Amanda Barberena

5:46 p.m. Tues. 4/14/20

Michigan and the City of Lansing requested the National Guard’s help at Sparrow Hospital

Members of the 110th Civil Engineering Squadron, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, will help build a large medical screening tent to replace the smaller ones currently at the hospital.

The City of Lansing Office of Emergency Management and the State Emergency Operations Center made the request Tuesday.

The shelter tent will allow staff to check patients for COVID-19 symptoms before admitting them to the Emergency Department.

– Amanda Barberena

12:25 p.m. Tues. 4/14/20

The expiration date for vehicles licenses and state I.D. cards has been temporarily extended

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-47 Tuesday. The following types of licenses set to expire between March 1 and May 31, 2020 has been extended to June 30:

  • Driver’s licenses
  • Learner’s permits
  • Commercial driver’s licenses

Any commercial vehicle registrations, including temporary registration that would have expired on or after March 1 has also been moved to June 30, 2020. Penalties for those with recently expired licenses have also been suspended.

However, motorists with suspended or revoked licenses are not eligible for the temporary extension.

– Amanda Barberena

11:52 a.m. Tues. 4/14/20

Businesses with on-premises liquor licenses can sell their unsold alcohol to the state. 

Executive Order 2020-46, signed by Gov. Whitmer Tuesday, said the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) can buy liquor from bars and restaurants that have been impacted by COVID-19.

Businesses must make a request to sell their alcohol to the MLCC by Friday, April 17 at 5 p.m. Once the state emergency is lifted, businesses have 90 days to buy back their spirits from the MLCC.

– Amanda Barberena

4:15 p.m. Sat. 4/11/20

Michigan’s case total near 24,000 and death count tops 1,300. As of 3 p.m. Saturday the state had 23,933 cases and 1,392 deaths. In Ingham County there are 240 cases and three deaths.

New COVID-19 testing lab and drive thru locations will increase Michigan’s testing capacity by 40%.

There are nine new drive thru testing facilities and three expanded ones. An expanded drive thru testing site in Detroit will be capable of testing 750 people per day, and an expanded site in Flint will be capable of testing 250 people per day.

Saturday morning Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new commercial laboratory in Grand Rapids which, once fully functioning, will process 3,000 tests per day. Patients must call drive-thru testing sites in advance.

Michigan drive thru locations are listed below:

Atlanta (between Gaylord and Alpena): Thunder Bay Community Health Service, 11899 M-32, 989-733-6827.

Bad Axe: Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, 876 N. Van Dyke Rd, 989-623-0137.

Battle Creek: Grace Health, 181 W. Emmett St., 269-441-3463.

Bay City: Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, 3884 Monitor Rd, 989-671-2000.

Benton Harbor: InterCare Community Health Network, 800 M-139, 855-869-6900.

Detroit: Details to come.

Flint (Open beginning on Wednesday): Atwood Stadium, parking lot entrance off West 1st Street, details to come.

Grand Rapids: Cherry Health, 200 Sheldon Street SE, 616-965-8347.

Jackson: Center for Family Health, 505 N. Jackson St., 517-748-5363.

Kalamazoo: Family Health Center, 117 W Paterson St., 269-488-0804.

Lansing: Ingham Community Health Centers, 2316 S. Cedar St., 517-887-4517.

Saginaw: Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, 501 Lapeer Ave., 989-293-3492.

Traverse City: Northwest Michigan Health Services, 10767 Traverse Highway, 231-642-5292.

-Abigail Censky and Amanda Barberena

4:59 p.m. Fri. 4/10/20

In Michigan, 1,281 people have died from COVID-19, with 22,783 testing positive. On Friday, Gov. Whitmer ordered all Michigan and U.S. flags to fly at half-staff indefinitely to honor those who have passed from the virus.

Officials encourage local governments, schools, businesses and residents to lower their flags.

79% of confirmed cases are in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, including Detroit city. 6,218 confirmed cases are in Detroit city alone.

Michigan COVID-19 data is updated daily at 3 p.m. here

– Amanda Barberena

3:28 p.m. Fri. 4/10/20

Michigan expands unemployment benefit eligibility to more workers beginning April 13 at 8 a.m. Low-wage workers, 1099-independent contractors, self-employed workers and gig workers who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Workers that meet the guidelines will begin receiving their state benefit amount and the $600 federal payment beginning April 20.

People can apply here, following the federal filing schedule which is listed below.

  • Last names beginning with letters A-L: file claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
  • Last names beginning with letters M-Z: file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
  • Saturdays are available for anyone who could not file during their allotted window. 

– Amanda Barberena

1:38 p.m. Fri. 4/10/20

Future generations can learn about the COVID-19 pandemic through the Michigan History Center’s history collecting initiative. The plan was announced Friday. 

The Michigan History Center will compile stories, documents, objects and media submitted by Michiganders related to the pandemic in Michigan.

There are three phases to the plan. The first is to accumulate photos, videos and audio files. People can submit those here.

The second is to collect objects, like face masks. The last part is to gather interviews once the pandemic is over.

– Amanda Barberena

12:14 p.m. Fri. 4/10/20

Michigan’s first COVID-19 alternate care facility opened Friday and will begin accepting patients. Officials said Detroit’s TCF Regional Care Center will take 25 patients April 10, with the plan the care for 250 by the end of the week. 

There are 970 beds for COVID-19 patients. Officials are looking for physicians, nurses and other staff to aid the facility. Applicants can fill out an online form here.

– Amanda Barberena

5:03 p.m. Thur. 4/9/20

The Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities will provide Gov. Whitmer with recommendations on how to lessen the racial disparity being impacted by COVID-19. 

Officials said 14% of Michigan’s population are African Americans, yet 40% of the COVID-19 deaths in Michigan are African Americans.

Gov. Whitmer created the task force Thursday. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II will chair the task force. Health care and state government officials will make up the task force. Their first meeting is this week.

A few previous executive orders signed by Gov. Whitmer protect vulnerable and low-income communities by temporarily banning evictions and tax foreclosures. She has also signed orders restoring running water for families and expanding unemployment benefits.

– Amanda Barberena

3:09 p.m. Thur. 4/9/20

The “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order has been extended through April 30. Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-42 on Thursday with a few added restrictions. 

All public and private gatherings outside of a household are temporarily prohibited.

Stores must limit the number of people inside, including workers. Stores must also mark the ground so patrons are six feet away from each other while waiting.

People can still go outside, as long as they continue to social distance, but travel for vacation is temporarily prohibited.

The full list of restrictions can be read here.

– Amanda Barberena

2:32 p.m. Wed. 4/8/20

Medical and sanitary supply carriers will not face fines or penalties if their license or other forms are expired. This executive order includes medical personnel. 

Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-40 Wednesday, waiving the International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) credentials.

Whitmer said she hopes this encourages the flow of critical equipment and health care personnel to aid the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan.

Important motor carriers bringing medical supplies, sanitary supplies, food and equipment for temporary housing are all exempt from the IFTA.

– Amanda Barberena

1:21 p.m. Tue. 4/7/20

The state House has joined the Senate in adopting a resolution extending Governor Gretchen Whitmer's emergency powers to address the COVID-19 crisis to May 1st.

-Rick Pluta

10:54 a.m. Tue. 4/7/20

The Michigan Senate adopted a resolution Tuesday morning extending Governor Gretchen Whitmer's emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 emergency to May first. The state House is also expected to adopt the resolution.

-Rick Pluta

8:10 p.m. Mon. 4/6/20

Michigan confirms more than 17,000 coronavirus cases; designates alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients in Michigan. There are now 17,221 confirmed cases and 727 deaths.

State officials announced Monday the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi will be the second alternate care facility in Michigan and accommodate up to 1,000 COVID-19 cases. The first location is the TCF Center in Detroit. Officials say other locations in Michigan are being considered for alternate care facilities if the state continues to need more space for COVID-19 patients.

11:33 a.m. Mon. 4/6/20

Emergency order requires faster reporting of COVID-19 related deaths.

An emergency order from the state’s health department is requiring doctors and funeral homes to report COVID-19 deaths faster. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued the directive Saturday. Under the order, funeral directors have 24 hours to initiate a death record and submit to the attending physician. Doctors have to attempt to certify the death record within 24 hours. Michigan has reported 15,718 cases of COVID-19 with 617 deaths as of Sunday. More information on the order can be found here.

4:31 p.m. Fri. 4/3/20

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen to 12,744 in Michigan and 479 deaths. There have been 142 deaths since Wednesday, and the confirmed case count has increased by 3,400 since then.

According to state officials, in Detroit alone, the case count is 3,550, or 28% overall. Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties represent 80% of all confirmed cases, including Detroit.

The University of Washington predicts the peak death rate in Michigan from COVID-19 will be April 11, according to their IHME model.

11:42 a.m. Fri. 4/3/20

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against, disciplining or discharging an employee for staying at home because the employee, or someone they are in close contact with, is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for the virus, under an executive order signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer Friday. 

The order says employees in this situation should stay at home, and only leave if absolutely necessary. Executive Order 2020-36 is in effect until the declared emergency’s end or until otherwise rescinded.

 – Amanda Barberena

11:25 a.m. Thurs. 4/2/20

Governor Gretchen Whitmer cancels face to face learning at K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year to slow the spread of COVID-19. All school buildings will be closed, leaving Michigan’s more than 1 million K-12 students to complete the remainder of the year via remote learning.

If a school district is not able to facilitate remote learning—student’s will not be penalized. Teachers and school employees will be paid for the remainder of the school year. All standardized tests previously scheduled for the remainder of the school year, including the M-STEP and the SAT, will be canceled, and seniors will graduate. You can read the full text of the Governor’s Executive Order, here.

The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers are developing templates for schools to craft remote learning plans—the application will be available beginning Friday April 3rd. Each district’s plan will need to be approved by their regional intermediate school district.

The order stipulates schools should be ready and willing to “help efforts to establish disaster relief childcare centers” and that schools will continue to provide meals to families in need.

School’s will have the flexibility to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-2020 school year as well as the option to begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day without having to seek additional approval. Student teachers and teachers will also be able to renew their certifications even if they aren’t able to meet the requirements because of COVID-19.

A date will be set in October for rising high school seniors to take the SAT and for other students to take the PSAT.

—Abigail Censky

6:55 Wed. 4/1/20

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking the Legislature to extend her emergency powers by 70 days to deal with the COVID-19 crisis in the state.  This includes the power to close businesses deemed non-essential and to require people to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The Legislature has a session day tentatively scheduled for next week and could return to the Capitol to vote on the request.

—Rick Pluta

4:05 p.m. Wed. 4/1/20

Michigan has broken another record for new cases of COVID-19 in one day, with 1,719 new cases bringing the total number of cases statewide to 9,344 cases and 337 deaths. 78 people have died since Tuesday. The state, according to public health officials and models, is still weeks away from peak infection rates and more than a week away from the projected peak death toll. According to the University of Washington IHME model COVID-19 deaths in Michigan are set to peak April 10.

—Abigail Censky

1:38 p.m. Wed. 04/01/20

First COVID-19 death announced in Ingham County

 

The Ingham County Health Department announced Wednesday its first COVID-19 related death in the county. In a statement, the ICHD said the deceased is an adult male in his 50s with an underlying health condition. As of this posting, there are 91 cases of COVID-19 in Ingham County.

 

-Karel Vega

7:45 p.m. Tues. 3/31/20

Cases continue to grow exponentially in Michigan. Senior health officials now consider the city of Detroit and Wayne County “hotspots” for the spread of the virus.

Tuesday marked the highest death toll yet for COVID-19 cases in Michigan with 75 additional deaths bringing the total to 184. 

The state now has 7,615 cases of COVID-19. The number of new cases rose by more than a thousand for the second day in a row.

State park visitors have increased drastically, causing a recreation area to close. In an effort to ensure visitors are adhering to social distancing guidelines the state Department of Natural Resources closed the Tippy Dam Recreation Area following a surge of people crowding the area.

The closure of the Manistee County recreation area is effective immediately until further notice. In a statement, the DNR said they’re also concerned about people traveling across the state to parks, resulting in nonessential travel that could increase the spread of COVID-19. Anyone entering the Tippy Dam Recreation Area could be penalized with a civil infraction.

Attorney General denies JoAnn Fabrics’ request to remain open as an essential business. The craft retailer requested to keep storefronts open during the stay at home order maintaining that people were relying on the store for raw materials to make face masks, face shields, hospital scrubs and gowns. Attorney Dana Nessel denied the request citing JoAnn’s online stores remain open, and the retailer can ship supplies to customers. You can read the letter, here.

—Abigail Censky and Amanda Barberena

12:28 p.m. Mon. 3/30/20

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suspends state hiring and promotions, vetoes $80 million in new spending in order to steer money to fighting the coronavirus.

At the same time, Whitmer said she signed laws with $150 million for the state’s response. She said it’s too early to know how the economic slowdown related to the virus will affect state revenue but the impact “is going to be real.”

“The world has changed since those negotiations and we must react and change along with it,” the governor said in reference to the veto and leaders in the Legislature.

Michigan had nearly 5,500 cases of the coronavirus by Sunday and 132 deaths. Detroit residents make up about 30% of cases.

- Associated Press

8:09 p.m. Fri. 3/27/20

Michigan’s tax filing deadline has been pushed back to July 15, 2020. This includes all state and city income taxes.

The exception is any city that had a previous filing date of April 30, 2020 now has a filing due date of July 31, 2020. The order by Gov. Whitmer comes after the IRS extended the federal tax deadline to July 15. Taxes can be filed online or through the mail.

More information can be found at: EXECUTIVE ORDER No. 2020-26 Extension of April 2020 Michigan income tax filing deadlines (PDF).

– Amanda Barberena

5:23 p.m. Fri. 3/27/20

All essential service providers and businesses in Ingham County are now required to conduct a brief health screening of their workers and implement social distancing.

The emergency order issued by the Ingham County Health Department requires workers to be checked for a fever and other COVID-19 symptoms if they have to enter facilities or businesses.

They also have to remain 6 feet away from others whenever possible, and this order must be posted at facility entrances.

More information can be found here: EMERGENCY ORDER (Ingham 2020-2) FOR CONTROL OF PANDEMIC (PDF).

– Amanda Barberena

12:07 p.m. Fri. 3/27/20

Energy utility companies are extending flexible payment plans and temporarily suspending service disconnects in Michigan. The state is working with these companies, including DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, to slow the spread of the coronavirus and lessen the impact on utility customers.

Customers are encouraged to contact their energy utility company if they anticipate having difficulty paying a bill. For low-income households, people can submit an application to the Department of Health and Human Services’s energy assistance program, State Emergency Relief. You can apply here.

For those worries about paying their energy bill and may need assistance, state officials also recommend calling 2-1-1 or going to their website.

– Amanda Barberena

2:40 p.m. Thurs. 3/26/20

The Governor has requested a major disaster declaration to confront the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan. Whitmer’s request follows President Trump’s grants to many states including Louisiana, Texas, Washington, Iowa, Florida, New York and California.

The major disaster declaration would free up funds for the states to provide meal assistance to needy families, provide rental assistance and temporary housing, as well as allow the state to provide counseling or therapy to residents whose mental health is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration would also provide assistance should the state need to set up field hospitals or other facilities, which was discussed by the Governor in a Thursday press conference.

“While the people and businesses of the great State of Michigan have shown incredible resilience and cooperation throughout this difficult time, we cannot weather this storm alone. I am hopeful that the president will grant my request for a major disaster declaration in full and within a matter of days so we can provide more services to Michiganders who need them,” said Whitmer.

—Abigail Censky

2:31 p.m. Thurs. 3/26/20

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to 2,856 in Michigan with 60 deaths. That is a 561 case increase since yesterday and 17 more deaths. Detroit City and Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties account for 84% of confirmed cases, according to state officials. There are 22 confirmed cases in Ingham county with no deaths. The Michigan government updates results daily at 2 p.m. More information can be found here.

6:48 p.m. Wed. 3/25/20

Temporarily, administrative hearings can be carried out through video conference or phone. Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order today allowing Michigan Employment Relations Commission and Unemployment Insurance Agency hearings, among others, to be carried out in this fashion. 

Notifications typically made in person can now be completed through email or mail. E-signatures are temporarily being accepted. You can read the executive order here.

3:38 p.m. Wed. 3/25/20

Michigan officials say there are now 2,295 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 43 deaths up from 1,791 confirmed cases and 24 deaths on Tuesday. 

The latest figures from the state show Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties still contain 54% of the cases, but cases are starting to climb in Washtenaw county with 72.

Detroit still has 31% with 705 confirmed cases. The Michigan government counts Detroit’s cases separately from Wayne County. More information can be found here.

4:17 p.m. Tues. 3/24/20

The number of confirmed Michigan cases of COVID-19 has risen to 1,791 with 24 deaths. Detroit alone has 563 confirmed cases, which is 31%. Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties have 54% of the confirmed cases. 

Wayne county doesn’t include Detroit; the Michigan government documents Detroit’s cases separately. More information can be found here.

3:09 p.m. Tues. 3/24/20

Two Michigan businesses received a cease and desist letter for selling false COVID-19 protection patches. The Rockford-based businesses claimed the “Coronavirus Defender Patch” would keep people from getting the virus. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sent the letter this morning to end the production and sale of the products.

Simultaneously, Nessel’s office has received close to 1,600 price-gouging complaints related to the coronavirus. Consumers can submit a complaint here.

2:30 p.m. Tues. 3/24/20

Michigan state parks will remain open during the “stay home, stay safe” order, but shelters, campgrounds, and overnight lodging facilities will be closed until April 13.

Visitors are required to stay at least 6 feet away from each other. Reservations between now and April 13 are cancelled, and full refunds will be given. More information can be found here.

5:04 p.m. Mon. 3/23/20

East Lansing is extending its tax filing deadline to July 31. The IRS moved the Federal tax filing deadline to July 15. For the City of East Lansing, all income tax forms and first quarter estimated payments will be due at the end of July. 

More information about the East Lansing tax deadline extension can be found here. More information about the Federal tax deadline extension can be found here.

4:28 p.m. Mon. 3/23/20

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan has risen to 1,328 across 32 counties and Detroit City. The death total is now 15.

86% of confirmed cases are in Detroit City and Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb counties. Detroit alone has 31% of the confirmed cases. The state records these separately from Wayne county. 

The Michigan government updates the confirmed coronavirus count each day at 2 p.m. More information can be found here.

 

11:25 a.m. Mon. 3/23/20

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order suspending all in-person operations at businesses and directing Michigan residents to stay inside of their homes unless they’re part of the critical infrastructure workforce. 

The Stay Home, Stay Safe order takes into effect at midnight Tuesday and will last for at least the next three weeks. You can read the full text of the order, here.

Workers exempt from this order include those in health care, law enforcement, and grocery store employees.

People may leave the house to get groceries or to exercise while still practicing social distancing. Restaurants and dine-out services that are delivering or offering curb-side service may continue to do so under the order, since feeding people is considered an essential service. Businesses that are retrofitted to manufacture personal protective equipment for health care workers will also be exempted from this order. 

Governor Whitmer’s order follows similar measures put in place in other states. Michigan is currently in the top five states in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

—Karel Vega

10:25 a.m. Mon. 3/23/20

 

Governor Whitmer is expected to issue a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19 at an 11 a.m. press conference.

 

Michigan now has 1,035 confirmed cases of COVID-19 spanning 32 of Michigan’s 83 counties. 86 percent of confirmed cases remain in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties; with 31 percent of total confirmed cases in Detroit. Detroit’s cases are broken out and reported separately from Wayne County.

 

Previously, stay-at-home orders in the neighboring states of Ohio and Illinois have included exemptions for members of the essential workforce like grocery store employees, pharmacists, and healthcare workers. People are asked to remain at home but can go outside for outdoor activity, or for activities like grocery shopping.

 

—Abigail Censky

11:39 a.m. Sun. 3/22/30

All nail-salons and barbers in the state must temporarily close after Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order to temporarily close hair, nail, tanning, massage, spa, tattoo, bod art and piercing services.

The order does not apply to services necessary for medical treatment if the services are deemed necessary by a licensed medical provider. The order also extended the closure of public places through April 13th.

The state now has 787 cases of COVID19 and eight deaths. Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties—plus the city of Detroit—have the most cases with 679 confirmed cases.  Ingham County has 11 cases.

—Abigail Censky

7:40 p.m. Fri. 3/20/20

 

COVID-19 cases go up by 400 percent in 48 hours. The state of Michigan is now reporting 549 confirmed cases of COVID-19 after reporting 334 cases Thursday.

 

The increase is partially because the state is now combining data from private labs and hospital labs with state lab data. There are now five same-day testing facilities in Michigan including Beaumont Health, Henry Ford Health, Michigan Medicine, Sparrow Laboratories, and the state lab.

 

While the state lab can now process 300 tests per day, bringing the state’s total capacity up to nearly 1000 tests per day. In an afternoon press conference Dr. Joneigh Khaldun—the state’s top medical executive said Michigan is not doing enough testing to model what percent of the population will likely be infected. Thursday, models in California predicted 56 percent of the California population would become infected over an 8-week period.

 

Michigan Governor has no plans for a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order. Whitmer strongly denied that a shelter-in-place order was under consideration in multiple media appearances Thursday and Friday despite rumors that such plans were in the works on social media, #michiganlockdown was trending on Twitter across the U.S. Thursday and within the state on Friday. Whitmer said rumors that she was calling for martial law were, “false and it is dangerous for people to foment fear” in afternoon remarks.

 

She softened her denials in TV appearances on MSNBC and CNN in the early afternoon saying “we are continually evaluating what’s next” and that she’s “communicating regularly with New York and California to understand their thought process and see if that’s something we need to do here in Michigan.”

 

Online Learning will not count toward school hours for Michigan kids. The Michigan Department of Education, which is not controlled by the Governor, says online learning will not count toward instructional time due to discrepancies in accessibility to computers and internet for students. The state requires more than 1000 hours of instructional time for each student. In an afternoon press conference, Whitmer, who closed the state’s school through April 5th said she was “dismayed” by the memo from MDE. If schools remain closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, the school year may extend into the summer depending on when schools reconvene. For the school year not to be extended into the school year lawmakers in the state legislature would have to change state law.

 

State halts evictions for renters and mobile home occupants. The order stipulates that tenants and mobile home residents can stay in their homes for the course of the pandemic even if they’re unable to keep current on their rent. The order is currently set to stay in place through April 17th.

 

Governor Whitmer issues temporary restrictions on all elective medical and dental procedures. Beginning March 21st, joint replacements, bariatric surgery, cosmetic surgery (with exceptions for emergency or trauma related surgery) must be postponed. The restrictions will be in place until the termination of the COVID-19 state or emergency.

 

—Abigail Censky

9:25 p.m. Thurs. 3/19/20

 

Licensed distilleries are now able to produce ethanol-based hand sanitizers. Governor Whitmer announced the new rule today to meet the demand for disinfectant. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau relaxed regulations so beverage distillers can produce hand sanitizer. This new rule is approved through June 30, 2020. An extension is possible.

 

7:01 p.m. Thurs. 3/19/20

 

Two Michigan State students confirmed to have COVID-19. In an email to the Michigan State University community, President Samuel Stanley Jr. said he was informed of the cases Thursday by the Ingham County Health Department.

Stanley said both people are being treated and not currently on campus. He also said the cases are unrelated to each other.

 

5:39 p.m. Thurs. 3/19/20

 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 Michigan cases has tripled since Wednesday. Now, 336 people have tested positive. These results come from both commercial and clinical labs across the state.

 

 

Small Michigan businesses can apply for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration starting today. Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan was approved by the SBA. This loan includes small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits that have suffered a substantial loss due to the coronavirus outbreak. You can find the link to applications here.

--Amanda Barberena

 

11:20 a.m. Thurs. 3/19/20

Two additional Michigan patients die after being hospitalized with COVID-19. This brings the total number of deaths in Michigan to three.

 

One patient was an 81-year-old man with underlying health conditions who was hospitalized at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. The other patient was a woman in her 50s, with underlying health conditions. She died at McLaren Oakland Hospital.

 

Differences in reporting yield different numbers for confirmed cases of COVID-19. This morning, the state’s data still reflects 80 confirmed cases in the state, but per reporting from the Associated Press, the Oakland County Department of Health confirmed 94 cases in just Oakland County. Other counts have reported the number of cases in Michigan as high as 116 cases. Testing from private labs is not incorporated into state data, deflating the more accurate case count.

 

—Abigail Censky

11:15 p.m. Wed. 3/18/20 

The case total has risen to 80 in Michigan, from two last Tuesday. However because of discrepancies in reporting, only data from the state lab (which can process 115 tests per day is included). Private lab data is not yet included in the case count, so the actual number of cases of COVID-19 is likely higher. 

Governor eases restrictions on where childcare can be provided to assist members of the essential workforce, like first responders and health care workers. Provisional licenses may now be granted to expand locations for childcare, including public and non-public school facilities. The executive order also allows employers like hospitals to offer disaster relief childcare for employees. 

All disaster relief childcare centers must conduct health evaluations of all people who enter, every time they entire--denying entry to anyone who does not pass the health evaluation. 

Members of the state’s essential workforce eligible for disaster childcare centers include: "health care workers, home health workers, direct care workers, emergency medical service providers, first responders, law enforcement personnel, sanitation workers, child care workers, personnel providing correctional services, postal workers, public health employees, key government employees, court personnel, and others providing critical infrastructure to Michiganders."

The state licensing agency also encourages trusted neighbors to provide childcare for six or fewer children for up to four consecutive weeks. Licensed centers can extend their operations to allow additional buildings, and the agency will expedite the licensing process for current and new applicants for provisional licenses. If you are a member of the essential workforce and need to find childcare you can go, here.

If you are a licensed child care provider willing to remain open or re-open during the COVID19 emergency you can fill out a survey to help, here.

The Michigan Army National Guard will assist the state department of health in packaging and loading personal protective gear like gloves, gowns, & face shields. They’ll deliver the kits to local public health departments.

--Abigail Censky

3:00 p.m. Wed. 3/18/20

Michigan's first Coronavirus death reported. For the first time, Michigan is reporting a death related to Coronavirus. The Associated Press reports that a man in his 50s who had COVID-19 died at a Beaumont Health hospital in Wayne County. The man had the virus and other underlying health conditions.

-Scott Pohl

10:23 p.m. Tues. 3/17/20

Michigan State Legislature passes bill to increase funding to help combat COVID-19

The Michigan legislature passed House Bill 4729 Tuesday evening to fund state spending in efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

 

The legislation authorizes additional spending of $125 million dollars, including: $50 million to extend the capacity of critical health care workers to respond to the coronavirus, $40 million to aid preparedness and response to fight the coronavirus, and $35 million in additional funding for the state’s Coronavirus Response Fund.

 

That’s in addition to the $15 million dollars authorized in Senate Bill 151 towards the fund.

-Karel Vega

9:03 p.m. Tues. 3/17/20

Michigan now has 65 cases of COVID-19. Two of the new cases are in Ingham County, bringing the county total to five. All cases in Ingham County appear related to travel. Information about confirmed cases in the state can be found, here.

Governor Whitmer waives regulatory requirements to open additional care facilities. The new order gives flexibility to the state’s licensing and regulatory agency to make decisions about “licensing, registration, and workflow requirements” freeing up hospitals to add beds and additional  buildings in addition to license nurse aides who haven’t yet completed an exam, as well as allowing volunteers and social workers to transport patients.

Two Department of Corrections employees test positive for COVID-19. An employee who works at the Jackson County probation office, tested positive, after travelling internationally—the other, an employee at the Detroit Detention center, did not have a history of domestic or international travel.

Menards issued a cease and desist letter from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel after reports that the retailer was price gouging. Investigators from the AG’s office reported some retailer locations doubled the price of products in high-demand during the coronavirus outbreak like bleach and face masks.

Required office visits suspended for Michigan residents receiving benefits from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. While MDHHS has closed its offices to the public, except by appointment, they will still conduct phone interviews with members of the public applying for or receiving benefits.

Families applying to receive services from the Family Independence program will also temporarily not be required to take part in orientations or employment activities.

According to MDHHS, nearly 15,000 low-income Michigan families receive monthly cash from FIP, and roughly 7,500 from that group participate in job readiness and training programs to qualify.

The Department of Natural Resources will close customer service centers and field offices across the state beginning Wednesday, including the Lansing location. While offices are closed to the general public, they will remain open by appointment to issue hunting and fishing licenses, burn permits, and charter licenses.

An online map tracking places where families can pick-up meals during school closures has been created by the state department of education. The map will be updated each day for the duration of the closures. The meals are available to children at no cost. Michigan schools are currently scheduled to remain closed through April 5th. You can find the map, here.

—Abigail Censky

8:34  p.m. Mon. 3/16/20

State announces new coronavirus reporting format; reports one additional case

Michigan’s State Emergency Operations Center announced Monday that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would begin reporting new COVID-19 cases at a new time with new metrics. In a statement, officials said the new update would take place daily at 2 p.m. with numbers for: cases and deaths broken down by county, cases by age range (in 10-year increments), and cases by sex. 

The state also announced one new case in Macomb county, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan to 54.

 

-Karel Vega

1:30 p.m. Mon. 3/16/20

In addition to bars and restaurants movie theaters, gyms and other gathering places will close too. After shutting down dine-in service at Michigan’s more than 16,000 businesses that serve food and drinks at 3 p.m. today Governor Whitmer’s new executive order also closes clubs, movie theaters, gyms, indoor and outdoor performance venues, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, spas and casinos.

The order does not bar businesses from continuing takeout, delivery, or curbside service. It also exempts several locations including grocery stores, markets, food pantries markets, pharmacies, health care facilities, and residential care facilities.

—Abigail Censky

1:25 p.m. Mon. 3/16/20

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. This executive order is effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59pm. 

Under the governor’s order, unemployment benefits would be extended to: 

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill. 
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off. 
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19. 

The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance. 

Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended: 

  • Benefits will be increased from 20 to 26 weeks. 
  • The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days 
  • The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.  

Additional unemployment resources for employees can be found here and for workers here

- Kevin Lavery

10:02 a.m. Mon. 3/16/20

All restaurants and bars in Michigan will close today at 3 p.m.  Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered all dine-in services to close, with the opportunity for businesses to still offer delivery and takeout. The move comes after Governors in several other states have shut down restaurants and bars to slow the spread of COVID-19 including Ohio, New York, and Illinois.

—Abigail Censky

11:55 p.m. Sun. 3/15/20

20 more people test positive for COVID-19 in Michigan, bringing the state’s total to 53 cases from just two on Tuesday. Cases span from Ottawa County to Washtenaw County, including 19 adults and one child. Most have history of international or domestic travel, or contact with a person with COVID-19, indicating community spread. Thus far, there are no new reported cases in Ingham County.

In an evening press conference, the state’s top medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said the state lab can process 115 tests per day, and is nearing capacity without additional help from local labs or hospitals. She noted the state lab doesn’t provide a “full picture” now that health officials have seen evidence of community spread.

Assistant Attorney General Joe Potchen said there have been 75 complaints of price gouging related to coronavirus. Michigan residents are encouraged to report price gouging to the Attorney General’s office via tip line or online. The Better Business Bureau has also created a Facebook page to track coronavirus related price gouging.

—Abigail Censky

1:45 p.m. Sun. 3/15/20

Ingham County restaurants will reduce occupancy loads by 50 percent, according to Ingham County Health Department Director Linda Vail, to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Vail’s decision mirrors Oakland County’s move over the weekend. The Oakland County order also includes entertainment and fitness centers in addition to bars and restaurants.

The decision to reduce occupancy loads in bars and restaurants comes on the heels of Governor Whitmer’s executive order that bans assemblages of more than 250 people, and reports of Michigan State students defying this order this weekend in East Lansing—flooding area bars and eateries. The reduction of occupancy loads preempts the holiday of St. Patrick’s Day, as local officials attempt to stem crowds.

The executive order will be enforced in tandem by Attorney General Dana Nessel and local law enforcement when needed. No citations have currently been issued, but bars and restaurants would be charged with a misdemeanor offense if they violated the order. The order applies to the owners of businesses and not the patrons.

These measures are an attempt to forestall closure of restaurants and bars across the state.

The governor has the authority to close bars and restaurants under her emergency powers. Countries like Italy have been forced to close  bars, shops, and restaurants after suffering catastrophic levels of community spread.

The Capital Area District Library will close all 13 branches through Sunday, April 5th; all items currently checked out will be renewed with an April 6th due date.

–Abigail Censky

10:00 a.m. Sun. 3/15/20

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order banning price gouging on materials, emergency supplies, consumer food items and goods. This follows a spate of stores running out of products like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

The order stipulates any business or individual may not sell an item in excess of 20 percent higher than its March 9th price.

The order will go into effect Monday March 16th and stay in place until April 13th.

—Abigail Censky

7:25 p.m. Sat. 3/14/20

Michigan State University learns of first COVID-19 case related to the MSU community - extends virtual learning to end of semester, postpones commencement

In a statement Saturday, MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. announced the extension of virtual instruction at the school through the end of the semester including finals. Commencent will also be postponed until an appropriate time is identified. President Stanley said the school was notified Friday of the first confirmed case of coronavirus related to the MSU community.

In the statement, Stanley also strongly encouraged students to return to their permanent residences and practice social distancing. The last point stems from recent media coverage of MSU students lining up at local bars in large crowds.

Employees are also encouraged to work remotely when possible.

-Karel Vega

6:25 p.m. Sat. 3/14/20

East Lansing and Okemos Public Schools update on providing meals

East Lansing and Okemos Public Schools will be providing meals to all local children 18 and under.

East Lansing Public Schools details via Facebook-

East Lansing Public Schools meal distribution:

Begins Monday, March 16

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Providing breakfast and lunch for any child 18 & under (bagged meals to go)

Distribution locations:

Deer Path Apartments: 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Edgewood Village Apartments: 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

1855/Univ. Village Comm. Center: 9:45 - 10:15 a.m.

Capital City Vineyard Church: 9:45 - 10:15 a.m.

Spartan Village - time TBA

Okemos Public Schools distribution via Facebook -

Breakfast and lunches will be available for curbside pickup beginning on Wednesday, March 18.  Up to 4 (four) days worth of meals, including meals for Saturday and Sunday, may be picked up at a time.

Distribution Dates: Starting, Wednesday March 18 through Friday April 3rd    (Note: Monday through Friday only)

Distribution Times: 11:00am - 1:00pm

Where:  Okemos High School, 2800 Jolly Road

Curbside Service at the West side of the building, enter off Jolly Road and follow the signs.

-Karel Vega

12:38 p.m. Sat. 3/14/20

Whitmer orders temporary restrictions on entry into care facilities and juvenile justice facilities

The executive order, signed Friday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, imposes temporary restrictions on entry into health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities effective Saturday, March 14.

This includes visitors that are not necessary for medical care, support of activities of daily living like bathing or eating, or that are not visiting under exigent circumstances. The order also mandates that beginning no later than Monday March 16 at 9 a.m., these facilities must begin assessing for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors for all individuals not under their care who are seeking entry into their facilities. The facilities must deny entry to any individual with these symptoms or risk factors. These restrictions will remain in place until April 5 2020, at 5 p.m.

Whitmer also signed an executive directive ordering state public bodies to postpone the public meetings that they can and to facilitate remote participation in the meetings that do occur.

-Karel Vega

9:02 p.m. Fri. 3/13/20

Michigan announces nine additional presumptive cases of COVID-19

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced nine adults tested presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in the state, bringing the state total up to 25.

Per the statement, the cases include:

  • An adult male from Bay County with history domestic travel.
  • An adult female from Charlevoix County with history of international travel.
  • An adult female from Detroit with history of international travel.
  • An adult male from Macomb County with history of international travel.
  • Two adult females and an adult male from Oakland County, one with history of international travel two with unknown travel history.
  • Two adult females from Wayne County, one with history of domestic and the other with no history of travel.

-Karel Vega

6:40 p.m. Fri. 3/13/20

USDA Grants Michigan Department of Education waiver to serve meals during closure

Effective immediately, the United States Department of Agriculture has granted the Michigan Department of Education’s request to waive regulatory requirements for serving meals.

The waiver means meals won’t be required to be served in a group setting. According to the statement, this will allow children to receive meals during Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announced school closures while practicing recommended social distancing.

Options will include allowing parents and children to pick up meals at designated locations or delivering meals to school bus stops.

Lansing Housing Commission announces closure

The Lansing Housing Commission has announced it will be closing its offices beginning Monday March 16 through Sunday April 5 as a precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, the LHC says staff will continue to work remotely and by appointment. The commision said it will also work with the Lansing School District and Youth Haven to provide meals to children.

-Karel Vega

4:40 p.m. Fri. 3/13/20

East Lansing Mayor declares local state of emergency

Following the announcement of more coronavirus cases in the state, East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier has declared a local state of emergency.

A statement from the city announced the following closures: City of East Lansing officials have decided to temporarily close all City facilities and cancel all public meetings, events and programs from Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5*. Facilities that will be closed to the public will include East Lansing City Hall, the East Lansing Hannah Community Center (ELHCC), the East Lansing Department of Public Works (including the recycling drop-off site), the East Lansing Prime Time Seniors’ Program, the East Lansing Public Library and the East Lansing 54B District Court. *ELHCC will re-open on Monday, April 13.

The statement adds that essential services will be maintained, including police, fire and EMS. Public works services, such as trash and recycling collection, water services and wastewater management will also be maintained and the East Lansing Police Department’s 24/7 police desk will remain open to the public and staffed. Water service shut offs and bulk item collection will be suspended during this time.

Secretary of State branch operations move to appointment only for three weeks

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has announced that all SoS branch offices will change operations to appointment-only from March 16 to April 6. 

During this time services will also be limited to: New driver’s licenses and state IDs, Title transfers, Testing for an original commercial driver’s license, chauffer’s license, mechanic’s license, motorcycle license, and recreational vehicle license.

Saturday branch service will be suspended but weekday hours will be expanded. All existing appointments including those not limited to the above transactions will be honored.

-Karel Vega

3:45 p.m. Fri. 3/13/20

Four additional adults have tested presumptively positive for coronavirus in Michigan bringing the state’s total to 16 total COVID-19 cases. The new cases include an adult woman from Detroit, an adult male from Washtenaw County with a history of international travel, an adult female from Wayne County who had contact with another case, and an adult male.

Three days after Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus, a swath of Michigan businesses and groups have cancelled public events, including the University of Michigan.

The University of Michigan announced it would cancel spring commencement activities on all three of its campuses. Former Vice President Al Gore was set to speak at the commencement on May 2nd.

-Abigail Censky

12:47 p.m. Fri. 3/13/20

Temporary prohibition on large assemblages and events

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to cancel all events over 250 people and all assemblages in shared spaces over 250 people from Friday, March 13th at 5 p.m. to Sunday, April 5 at 5 p.m. While the order closes all K-12 buildings, child care facilities will remain open during this time - whether they’re attached to schools or free standing.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s top medical official, said the prohibition is the smart thing to do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Certain assemblages are exempt from the prohibition including: industrial or manufacturing work, mass transit, or the purchase of groceries or consumer goods.

Michigan Department of Corrections halts visits at state prisons

Effective immediate MDOC is halting in-person visitation of inmates. This includes outside volunteers and other tours and groups who routinely come into the prisons.

MDOC said it is monitoring the situation to determine when visits will be restored.

During this period the department said it will work with vendors that provide communication services to determine enhanced services that may be offered.

MSU College of Music events suspended

The Michigan State College of Music has announced the suspension of all public events through the remainder of the spring semester. The college said certain suspended events are being evaluated to determine if they can be rescheduled next academic year.

Michigan Flyer-AirRide Suspending Services

Michigan Flyer-AirRide is suspending services all of its daily runs between East Lansing, Brighton, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro Airport from Monday, March 16, until Thursday, April 16. The company said this is due to a sharp reduction in demand by customers as well as travel restrictions that have reduced flight schedules. Only airport-related bus service will be affected. Other transportation services offered by Michigan Flyer and Indian Trails are still in operation.

—Karel Vega

11:35 p.m. Thu. 3/12/20

K-12 Schools in Michigan closed for three weeks. Governor Whitmer ordered K-12 schools closed from March 16th-April 5th. The order comes as the states’ number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 doubled in a day. The state’s top medical official, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said the order would help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Governor said all school employees would be paid during that time period, and she would have a statement regarding the state workforce in coming days.

Dr. Khaldun, said there is currently no backlog of tests at the state laboratory and she assumes there are more cases in Michigan that we don’t know about. The state superintendent, Michael Price, said measures would be taken to assist children who rely on schools for meals.

—Abigail Censky

10:50 p.m. Thu. 3/12/20

The state of Michigan now has 12 positive cases of Coronavirus including cases in Ingham, Kent, Montcalm, Oakland, St. Clair & Washtenaw counties. Nine of the 10 new cases had history of domestic or international travel. The patient in Ingham county, an elderly woman, tested positive after being on cruise ship. She is currently stable in the hospital. Information on the 10 new cases can be found, here.

The Governor is set to address the new cases, now spanning seven counties, in an 11 p.m. press conference with the state superintendent and the state’s top doctor.

Lansing Community College has extended spring break for students through Tuesday, and will move many classes to online beginning Wednesday March 18th.

Lansing Board of Water and Light halts water shutoffs. BWL will restore water to 200 customers over the course of the next few days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. There’s no end-date to when they will be providing water to customers.

—Abigail Censky

4:05 p.m. Thu. 3/12/20

Big Ten Cancels Men’s Basketball Tournament. After the NBA decided to suspend its season on Wednesday when a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus, the Big Ten conference followed suit.

This follows soccer competitions taking place in empty stadiums across Europe over the weekend, when the events were closed to spectators. Just before tip-off between the University of Michigan and Rutgers University at day two of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, the conference announced the tournament’s cancellation. Conference commissioner, Kevin Warren, said it’s the safest call to make. “If something had gone awry here, I don’t want to be in a position looking back saying ‘Only if we would’ve canceled this tournament.’” Michigan State was set to play in the tournament on Friday.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has also announced that all winter tournaments are suspended until further notice.

Michigan Capitol Stops Tours and all public events in the building until May 1st. Currently, the legislature has no-plans to suspend their session before lawmakers’ spring break on March 27th. The public will still have access to observe the session from the gallery. The Michigan House of representatives has also banned non-essential, out-of-state work travel for House employees, and days the House is in session ordered non-vulnerable staff “those under 60 with no relevant chronic health conditions” to report to work.

—Abigail Censky

1:20 pm Thu. 3/12/20

Here's what's new today:

Michigan has two confirmed cases of COVID-19. Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency late Tuesday night, in response to the two confirmed cases—just one day before the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

One patient, from Oakland County, traveled internationally before testing positive. The other patient, from Wayne County, tested positive after travelling domestically. Both patients are being hospitalized and monitored by federal health officials according to reporting from the Associated Press.

A third possible case, a patient who had contact with the Wayne County case, is being tested and monitored by Ingham County health officials. That case prompted Michigan State University to cancel face-to-face instruction, until April 20, on Wednesday. MSU’s decision was followed by every public university in the state.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 120 Michiganders have been tested.

-Abigail Censky