Live Updates: Coronavirus In The Lansing Region

21 hours ago

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.

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