FRIDAY NEWS HIT - AAA expects there to be a surge in Memorial Day travel this weekend as people continue emerging from their homes for vacation and trips abroad after a long year inside. The return of tourism is good.
So is public confidence in their safety after getting vaccinated. But there's a catch and not one that should come as a surprise - high gas prices.
According to the travel agency, travelers will pay the highest gas prices in seven years this weekend.
About 37 million Americans are expected to travel, mostly by car and plane for the weekend - which represents a 60% increase from last year. It's a "strong indication that summer travel is going to be largely popular," said a spokesperson. "With the increase in travel demand, gas prices are going to be expensive no matter where you fill up, so plan ahead."
It won't take a pipeline shutdown to raise prices either. Demand will be up because more people will be traveling.
Gas is about $1.12 more expensive than last year and up 17 cents from last month on average.
Woman claims race a factor behind $385 noise complaint
A woman was fined a hefty sum over a noise complaint a neighbor made after she asked her to stop using her phone or talk at a lower volume. The incident happened on Cushing Street in Eastpointe and as far as the ticketed woman is concerned, was a judgment against her race more than the volume of her voice.
"I get a ticket for being a public nuisance because I'm talking too loud on my phone?" Diamond Robinson can be heard saying in the Facebook Live video she took as an officer delivered the ticket. "That's why I got a ticket."
Robinson had been on the phone with a friend when her neighbor, a white woman who moved to the neighborhood a of couple weeks ago, called the police on her. Robinson originally declined to lower her volume and walked past her. "Three minutes later, Eastpointe police pulls up."
Robinson believes she was fined $385 because of her race. "There's no way police should be called on me when I am on my own property, in my own neighborhood, on my own block," she said. The neighbor declined to comment on the issue and the officer said the woman would have her day in court.
Could a vaccine lottery work in Michigan?
In Ohio, five people are expected to win a million-dollar lottery for getting vaccinated - a ploy that states are using to boost vaccine rates amid hesitancy and skepticism about getting the shot. It appears to have worked for the state, which saw the number of people receiving their first dose jumping 33% the week after the lottery announcement.
But could that work in Michigan? According to Ferndale's Charlie Colony, "hesitancy has a price tag and it's a million dollars." George Goike, an outpatient therapist, agreed, saying a vaccine lottery is the way to go but the state should still expect some holdouts.
From the philosophical side of things, Mark Navin who studies the field at Oakland University says that there's been no better time to push incentives as the alternative could be coercion like mandates and passports. "And as you know, vaccine mandates are politically contentious.
But even getting a formal lottery in Michigan wouldn't happen since it would require a bill from the legislature and a signature from the governor. The governor's office says they are looking at their options.
Where is COVID-19 in Michigan
And speaking of COVID-19 rates in Michigan, the state reported 542 more cases on Thursday - a steep drop in the daily reporting rates as this week shows real progress being made in mitigating the spread of the virus around the state. You'd have to go back to mid-September of 2020 to see a report with fewer cases.
Another 11 deaths were also reported, maintaining a relatively low rate of fatality linked to the virus. But that's where much of the good news ends in terms of progression to end the pandemic. The number of people getting their first shot has slowed to a crawl in Michigan.
Currently, about 58.5% of the state has gotten their first dose. Last week, only 43,826 more people got their first shot. Michigan was hoping for far higher rates before people stopped getting vaccinated. It's another example of the challenge facing health departments - especially in vaccine-hesitant areas like Detroit where only 34.3% have initiated getting the shot.
Whether this becomes an issue for the state in the long term remains to be seen. As it turns out, immunity against the virus may persist after getting the vaccine or getting infected for years. Two new studies reported in the journal Nature found cells that retain a memory of the virus can churn out antibodies whenever needed. That bodes well for long-term community protection.
Moderna commences vaccine trials for young kids
And also encouraging is the evolution of vaccine studies that are being tooled for children. Henry Ford Health System is now enrolling children for its Moderna vaccine study, according to a release yesterday. HFHS is looking for kids ages 6 months to 11 years old for its trial studying the efficacy of its mRNA dose for young kids.
Children can ward off the virus better than older adults, but as reported previously are not immune to its effects. Hundreds have been hospitalized as a result of being infected.
The KidCOVE study follows emergency approval of mRNA vaccines that can now be administered to kids age 12-18. The response from the body in children who have gotten the shot has said to be even stronger than that of adults.
"The more vaccine candidates we have for our young people, the better," said Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer at Henry Ford. "We encourage parents to consider enrolling their children who may qualify for this vaccine study."
Two found shot dead in burned-out building
According to the Warren police commissioner, two bodies were pulled out of a house that was on fire Friday morning in the city.
Both people had been shot and police are looking at possibilities of a murder-suicide.
The victims were in their 30s and were dating, according to Commissioner Bill Dwyer. The fire happened in the 31000 block of Fairfield around 5 a.m.
The scene is still under investigation.
What else we're watching
- Michigan schools got a lot of good news Thursday when the governor said she would eliminate the funding gap with surplus dollars from the budget. Detroit schools announced their return to learning plans funded by a billion dollars in federal money.
- The slow-burn story of Gretchen Whitmer's travel controversy received another update Thursday when her office confirmed her reelection campaign would pay for the trip instead of her nonprofit, which she hopes will avoid any legal troubles with the Federal Aviation Administration.
- A Mackinaw City hotel manager has been fired after he was filmed berating a customer in a video that went viral this week. The incident actually occurred in early April however.
- DTE has announced plans to build an 18th century Detroit River longhouse at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Monroe. It will serve as a means to replicate what life was like for some of southeast Michigan's indigenous people.
- There are lots to do for the unofficial start of summer in Michigan this weekend. Check out our guide here.
Live on FOX 2
It's a not-so-nice Friday as the weekend ends on a rainy cold note ahead of Memorial Day Weekend. Rain is expected to fall until mid-afternoon and temperatures won't climb over 50 before the sunset. But weekend temperatures look a little warmer and a little sunnier.
Giant tortoise thought to be extinct more than 100 years ago found in Galapagos
After two years, a team from Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment and Water and the Galapagos Conservancy organization found an adult female giant tortoise on Fernandina Island, the third-largest island of the Galápagos Islands.
A team of researchers at Yale University compared the DNA of the tortoise with another specimen extracted in 1906.
The team determined that the DNA belonged to the Chelonoidis phantasticus species, which was considered extinct more than a century ago.