Michigan's pandemic summer continues with another extended state of emergency. The latest update in a long line of declarations coming from the governor's office will last until Aug. 11. Set to expire on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's latest order announced yesterday doesn't change any state law or restrict new businesses, it only gives her the authority to call for more action if she sees fit.
It's that last point that most of Michigan are wary of. The state's coronavirus status hasn't been quite so stark as the first time cases rose back in March. During its first increase, cases rose exponentially over a two week period, reaching to almost 2,000. The state's uptick hasn't been so stark this last time, but it has been concerning enough to health officials and Whitmer to postpone any new reopenings and even restrict indoor service at bars. She also bolstered new face mask rules last week.
While Tuesday's newest case report didn't match this current surges high (584 on July 14 vs. 653 on July 11), Whitmer told Anderson Cooper on CNN Tuesday night it's the next few weeks that will matter the most in Michigan's effort to slow COVID-19's spread. "The conduct that we engage in right now is going to determine whether or not our kids get back in school in a meaningful way in person."
It's not the first time the governor has invoked fall plans for school as the justification for new rules. After witnessing just has quickly the virus could spread due to an outbreak at an East Lansing bar, Whitmer said she closed indoor bar service so the state can "be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction in the fall." We'll find out if she plans on taking any further steps today during a 3 p.m. press conference.
Of course, not everyone was pleased with Whitmer's decision to extend the order more. Republicans in the legislature have feuded with her over what they see as an uncompromising method for mandating new state orders. They haven't approved an emergency declaration since greenlighting a first two-week extension in April.
“While it is clear that Michigan is still under threat from COVID-19, it’s time for Governor Whitmer to start working again with the peoples’ elected representatives to end this crisis. By continually extending her State of Emergency order, she has intentionally circumvented the checks and balances our system of government is built on and given the cold shoulder to our legislative leaders who represent nearly 10 million Michiganders," read a statement from the Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox.
But the disagreement doesn't stop there, and in fact, goes beyond state politics to as local as one can get: school board.
On Tuesday, the Detroit Public School Board unanimously approved a hybridized learning plan for the district, allowing for both in-person and remote learning, if it's funded by the state. It's the latest administrative decision to prompt consternation among activists who see inviting students back to school as a dangerous new direction for both children, their parents, and the teachers.
"People have died, children have died. This is not a game where you can pretend to have some safety precautions to magically protect us from a deadly virus that we can't see," said teacher Ben Royal.
"You the school board can't meet face to face for a couple of hours," said teacher Martina Falk. "You cannot expect children to safely sit in a classroom."
But Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti pushed back on the notion that only online learning should be used, arguing a one-size-fits-all approach would only hinder kids' education more.
"It does not work for the 50,000 children we serve. It does not. It does not work to simply say it must be online. If that is the health trend of our state and of our country, then so be it, we will accept it and modify it, based on what we did in March."
Of the 4,000 students that signed up for summer school, which started on Monday, 2,000 opted for in-person learning. About 200 showed up on the first day and 600 the second day. Part of the reason for the low turnout is attributed to the protests that have blocked buses from exiting the bus terminal, Vitti said.
More protests continued Wednesday morning as well. It'll be the third day that teachers and activists upset with the district's plan to go forward with schooling will be demonstrating at the bus lot. In a particularly tense moment earlier in the morning, as a bus was exiting the lot, a white vehicle sped down the road and almost crashed into the bus before blocking it from further exiting the lot.
A tow truck came to remove the vehicle, but more protesters blocked that from happening as well.
Jeweler buries $1M in treasure around Michigan, sparking hunt
Global pandemic got you down? Tired of all the negative news ruining your day? Johnny Perri, a jeweler from Macomb County might have the antidote to your diminishing spirits - a treasure hunt around Michigan.
"I said Amy, we can take everything out and retire or we can bury it across the state of Michigan," Johnny said after wiping his shelves clean at J&M Jewelers.
Together, Johnny and his wife Amy picked option two by burying a million dollars' worth of treasure in dozens of spots from Metro Detroit and north throughout the upper peninsula.
"We went through waterfalls, streams, we kayaked everywhere," he said.
Like most of us, Johnny was going nuts at home with nothing to do amid the COVID-19 crisis. With the financial pinch of the pandemic squeezing his business, he decided to close after 23 years.
They are now selling tickets to each "Treasure Quest" and ticket holders will get a set of clues on a specific date. Each prize is worth $4,000 and the first hunt begins Aug. 1.
Tickets for the first Treasure Quest are $49, but the prices will vary throughout the hunt. If you want to buy tickets go here: johnnystreasurequest.com/
Temperatures are expected to climb to 87 degrees on Wednesday with forecasted rain into Thursday morning expected.
Taxes are due Wednesday, July 15, three months later than usual
If you haven't filed your taxes yet, you're running out of time. The usual date was pushed back from April 15th to July 15th - which is Wednesday.
The rush to file taxes is usually done in mid-April but it was pushed back this year because of the pandemic to mid-July, the 15th to be exact. That's Wednesday.
The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15th to file your taxes and submit what you owe, if applicable. But if you're one of the millions of Americans out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic and can't afford what you owe, you can still file an extension.