Detroit bolstering efforts to vaccinate seniors, count day in Michigan, Penobscot tenants livid over bight

Of the 16 most recent deaths linked to the coronavirus in Detroit, 15 of them were seniors. With COVID-19 just as much a threat to the elderly today as it was almost a year ago, the city of Detroit is taking added precautions to protect its most vulnerable.

On Tuesday, Mayor Mike Duggan announced new initiatives for protecting those 65 and up by getting them access to a vaccine sooner. 

Cheap travel and expanded access will be available to Detroit's elderly for the next few weeks in an effort to boost immunization in the city.

"We have vaccinated more than 9,000 Detroiters ages 65 and older, but it’s very important that reach as many as we can as quickly as we can," said Duggan. "Thanks to our partnership with Rev. Anthony and Bishop Vann, we will be able to reach another 4,000 seniors over the next month, in addition to those we already will be vaccinating at TCF." 

The city is now offering $2 car rides for people to go to the TCF Center and get vaccinated. If that expense is too much, then the ride is free.

Additionally, for the next four weeks, there will be a 'Senior Saturday' hosted at two of Detroit's biggest churches. Vaccine administration will be done at the Fellowship Chapel and the Second Ebenezer, beginning Feb. 13.

 "Our goal is to have the most accessible vaccine program in the country, just as we had the most accessible testing program in the county," said Duggan. 

Also encouraging is the 2,500 COVID-19 vaccines heading toward Meijer pharmacies in Detroit this week. 

The city has expanded its eligibility requirements for getting the vaccine to include city workers, frontline employees, public transportation staff, and law enforcement. Teachers and those over the age of 65 can also get the vaccine.

And for the best news of all, the mayor said there's a "real chance" that the city is back to normal this summer, as long as vaccination efforts remain strong. 

For those that need a ride to the TCF Center, the number to call is the same for scheduling a vaccine: 313-230-0505. When on the line, just say you need a ride and the city will schedule a round-trip ride. 

Count day in Michigan

The all-important Count Day in Michigan arrives with a reworked algorithm for allocating funds to districts as a means for accounting for students attending class in-person and online.

The funding allocation will include 75% of last year's student count and 25% of this year's student count. During normal circumstances, it would be 90% of this year's count with 10% of the previous year's count.

In order for students to be counted, they'll need to be either in attendance in-person or online.

In Detroit, the district is incentivizing students with free food and video game consoles in hopes of boosting attendance during class on Wednesday.

Police make major human trafficking bust in Madison Heights

Oakland County's prosecutor announced Tuesday that both local law enforcement and federal agencies have busted a human trafficking ring in Madison Heights, arresting two people and putting out a warrant for a third individual.

So far, 36-year-old Lavonte Sampson of Harper Woods and 40-year-old Chrystal Forgays of Warren have been charged. Cal Perkins is still on the run.

Madison Heights police got a tip in the fall of 2020 about a criminal enterprise taking place in motels in the area. Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the average age of the victim was 13, however, they had seen cases involving girls as young as 9 years old.

She also said the pandemic had made children more vulnerable since they are online more and isolated from their teachers and friends. 

Global semi-conductor shortage hits auto companies

A link in the global supply chain has exposed a shortage in electronic parts and forced the closure of several automotive plants that install semi-conductors in vehicles.

Three plants run by General Motors in North America have closed until March 15 while Ford could lose upwards of $2 billion in profit due to the shortage. Another plant owned by Stellantis in Windsor is also starting to idle.

While not traditional car parts, vehicles have increasingly become more electric, not just in their fuel economy but in their operating. Chip manufacturers in China have become one of the key ingredients in making vehicles and represent a potential liability to companies that need them.

The stoppage in work arrives just as consumer's appetites for cars and trucks have rebounded. 

Mike Shirkey apologizes after "hoax" comment

Michigan's Senate Majority leader has found himself in hot water again after language he used to describe the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January was captured on video and posted online.

In what appears to be a secret recording of Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and a meeting with members of the Hillsdale County Republican Party at a diner, the state senator described the insurrection as a "hoax from day one" that "wasn't Trump people."

"It was ridiculous, it was all staged," he said. He also accused the Senate Majority Leader in Congress of being a part of it. There were several other nuggets of colorful commentary he offered during the meal, including having a fistfight with Michigan's governor on the Capitol lawn. 

Shirkey was meeting with unhappy constituents who had censured the senator after he supported the ban of open carry of firearms inside the Michigan capitol building. 

Penobscot building tenants livid over blight violations

One of Detroit's tallest and most iconic skyscrapers is racking up blight violations, angering the people that work there.

Exposed wires, broken smoke detectors, and inoperable heating has made working inside the Penobscot building a nightmare for people like Ali Charara, of Ernst Charara & Lovell.

"There's so much history in this building. Built in 1928. We made this building part of our logo our law firm," They said. "What we would rather do is see this sold from the hands of a slumlord, to have someone who would rather fix this place for the city of Detroit."

Last year, the building racked up over 170 building violations, including five just before FOX 2 had gotten there. The property manager said he's taking care of the violations and said the other tenants were allowed to use the 41st floor, and his bathroom on the 13th floor. 

What we're watching

  1. Grosse Pointe Woods police confirm that an SUV crashed into the front entrance of a wine shop around 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
  2. The Great Lakes Water Authority will announce Wednesday regional agreements on projects with agencies in Detroit and Oakland County that will improve water quality.
  3. General Motors released its fourth-quarter earnings, showing an income of $2.8 billion in the final report of the year. 
  4. The FBI is warning about romance scams, where criminals adopt fake online personas to gain a victim's affection and trust. It eventually leads to theft.
  5. A new survey from the Michigan Education Association found 90% of teachers want to be vaccinated.

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Single-digit temperatures should greet many in the early morning before temperatures climb up to 21 degrees. Downriver communities may see some snow showers later today. 

US goes year without combat death in Afghanistan for first time in two decades

The U.S. military has gone a full year without a single combat death in Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years.

Army Sgts. 1st Class Javier Gutierrez and Antonio Rodriguez were the last two Americans to die while fighting in the country one year ago on Monday. Two others, Army Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin and Army Pfc. Miguel Villalon were killed in January of last year, as The Military Times first reported.

The Taliban has said it may still target U.S. military members, however, if President Biden decides to keep forces in the area beyond a May deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to the Military Times.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib on Jan. 22 and said the Biden administration would review the Trump administration's February 2020 U.S.-Taliban agreement, the White House said in a press release.