Detroit tries to catch up on vaccines, man arrested for Pontiac machete murder, Denzel Washington's mentor

On Tuesday, the city of Detroit announced plans to expand eligibility to its residents for getting a vaccine that now includes essential workers in the food industry, grocery stores, meatpacking, as well as security and custodial staff.

Detroit is starting to fall behind the state in vaccination rates of its residents after a supply shortage has stymied efforts to boost immunization against COVID-19. 

So far, 3,000 people are getting the jab every single day at the TCF center. However, health officials say the county has the capacity to vaccinate twice as many people weekly.

According to the city, all food and beverage workers, regardless of age, can set an appointment to get the Pfizer vaccine. Working on the front lines throughout the pandemic, many employed at grocery stores or on public transportation are among those most at risk for catching the virus. 

"If you live or work in the city, you can call today and you will get an appointment," Mayor Mike Duggan said.

Duggan and the city's Chief Health Officer Denise Fair recommended coworkers carpool together. One person was allowed to make appointments for several as long as they had their basic personal information. That includes name, address, date of birth, phone number, email, and if they've had any allergic reactions to vaccines in the past. 

Duggan expects the new eligibility requirement will expand to several thousand more people. 

So far, about 10% of Michigan has gotten the first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, only 3% of Detroit can say the same. 

Recent reports have identified key disparities of vaccine distribution equity between groups of race, despite efforts to overcome those barriers that were present at the onset of the pandemic. 

In an interview with Politico, Michigan's chief health officer said the prioritization of health workers and vaccine hesitancy drove the initial disparity. 

However, the state's plan for its next phase of inoculation will include using the CDC's social vulnerability index that will determine how doses should be allocated. 

Among those attempts include a "tripling of efforts" by Detroit to vaccinate more residents and staff in senior living facilities, where rates are low.

Parents, students, coaches sue to restart high school sports

A group of student-athletes, parents, coaches, and school administrators have presented the latest legal challenge to Michigan's pandemic-related closures, this time suing to restart contact sports like basketball and competitive cheer after a 2 1/2 month ban on them.

Let Them Play Michigan filed a complaint with the state Court of Claims recently. The filing alleges the ban on sports inadvertently led to the death of a Mona Shores student after "succumbing to the mental struggles he endured from the continued delays in winter sports in Michigan."

"The ban on athletic practice and competitions has restricted the ability of these and many other student-athletes from achieving their career pathway -- competing, practicing and potentially gaining a college scholarship," said Attorney Peter Rudell.

The current ban against some winter sports extends through most of February. The governor has said she's "optimistic" about taking steps to re-engage sports "just like we are doing with indoor dining."

Oakland County man arrested in machete murder

A 51-year-old man was arrested in connection to a murder of a Pontiac man after the suspect allegedly attacked the victim and another man with a machete after he was told he couldn't get prescription narcotics from them. 

According to the Oakland County Sheriff's office, the attack happened around 5 a.m. Tuesday on Oliver Street. They arrived at the home and found a 27-year-old man lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He was declared dead at Mclaren Oakland Hospital.

The second victim, a 59-year-old man was found outside the home with cuts to his head. Another person living in the home said he had "never witnessed anything like that" and suspected it was a drug deal that went bad.

The suspect is in custody and both a machete covered in blood and a bloodied broken steak knife were recovered from the scene.

An actor and his mentor

Actor Denzel Washington has played police officers for much of his career in the film industry. His storied career behind the camera has covered several decades. But there's one inspiration he's continually drawn to when he plays a cop: Chief James Craig.

"Denzel called me, and I didn't know it was him," Craig said, referring to a ride-along back in the 1990s for a 1991 movie "Ricochet". "He said 'Hey man.' I said hey man? and (he said) 'Denzel, Denzel Washington.' And it was kind of a shock to me."

Washington revealed his mentor for playing the roles in an interview published recently. He rode with Craig for eight hours, specifically remembering how the future Detroit police chief de-escalated a situation involving a mentally ill man with a gun. 

"When he is playing the LAPD cop, there are things he says he got directly from me," Craig said. "It's almost like he was playing me."

Black History Month: Remembering Carl B. Stokes

Carl Burton Stokes was born in 1927 and became an attorney from Cleveland Ohio. His ascendancy to politics and the upper echelon of life was monumental.

In 1962 he became the first African American member of the Democratic party to be elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. Five years after that, he ran for mayor of Cleveland.

He beat out the grandson of former President William Taft to become the first Black mayor of a major U.S. city. He led the municipality through race riots and white flight. After winning re-election two years later, he stepped away from politics. 

From there, he went on to become New York's first African American TV news anchor. He died in 1996 of esophagus cancer.

Multiple wrecks reported on I-696 in Madison Heights

Michigan State Police responded to a series of traffic crashes early Wednesday morning after the driver of a passenger vehicle intentionally crashed into the center median wall. 

The collision blocked the left lane on eastbound I-696 near Dequindre Road in Madison Heights. It also caused a light pole to fall into the travel lanes of the highway, which then struck a second vehicle. 

A third vehicle then struck the first wrecked vehicle. 

Shockingly, there were no serious injuries reported, however, the driver of the first car fled the scene on foot. He was eventually located and was arrested. He's suspected of being under the influence. The freeway reopened around 7:30 a.m.

Other things we're watching

  1. The U.S. Coast Guard says it has two icebreaking ships on Lake St. Clair trying to dislodge logjams that are creating a flood risk in the area.
  2. The ACLU and NAACP will be in court Wednesday to oppose a motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that demands the city of Detroit put a permanent end to water shutoffs. 
  3. The Skillman Foundation has released a list of its 20 Black Detroiters making history. They asked the community for examples of Black youth excellence and have compiled a list honoring their contributions
  4. The Attorney General is warning of a new scam involving robocalls where people are spoofing local law enforcement who threaten residents to pay for warrants or other services with gift cards
  5. The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force, which began after a major infrastructure failure flooded part of mid-Michigan last year, will release its final report about the status of the state's dams, their regulation, current permitting, and ownership responsibilities today. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

The sunshine is going to be out for the day Wednesday before cloud cover and an evening mix of rain and snow arrive Thursday.

Democrats move forward with Biden's COVID-19 relief bill

President Joe Biden told Senate Democrats on a private call Tuesday that a Republican alternative to his $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan is insufficient as he urged lawmakers to boldly and swiftly confront the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.

Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined senators for the virtual meeting, both declaring the Republicans' $618 billion offer was too small. As the White House reaches for a bipartisan bill, Democrats voted Tuesday to start a process for approving Biden's bill on their own, with or without GOP support. The goal is a passage by March.

"We are not going to dilute, dither or delay," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "The needs of the American people are just too great."

The swift action from Democrats on Capitol Hill underscores the urgency of the pandemic response and economic aid, Biden's top legislative priority, even as talks are progressing privately between Republicans and the White House, as well as with centrist Democrats, on potential adjustments to the package to win over broader bipartisan support.