How we know vaccines are working, a tattoo scam sends customers to Oak Park, getting a vaccine at Meijer

The collision course of spiking pandemic infection rates and climbing vaccine access taking place in Michigan is putting the state in a real-time experiment of just how effective treatments against COVID-19 can be.

There's been an alarming rise in coronavirus cases in Michigan, pushing the state's infection rate well past the threshold most health orders have strived for. But most of those cases have been in younger people. 

Elderly people aren't catching it as frequently, Dr. Adnan Munkarah said Monday, as evidence in Henry Ford Health System's recent patient data.

"Vaccinations are our way out of this pandemic," he said. "We know that these vaccines are working, and the reason is that the group being vaccinated now has a decrease in the number of positivity rates."

A deadly cocktail of coronavirus mutations and loosened restrictions, along with general pandemic fatigue that's worn down citizens over the past year has forced positive tests up 10%. There's been a 133% increase in cases, including an almost doubling of hospitalizations.

Health experts are somewhat perplexed by Michigan's increase - it being the highest in the nation. Some say it could be because restrictions were lifted too soon or the presence of the B.1.1.7 variant is making transmission easier. In classroom settings, which recently opened in almost every Michigan school, students affiliated with high school sports have gotten infected at a higher rate.

The governor has no plans to ease restrictions at the moment, even as the state's epidemiologist says the increase in infections is akin to the October surge last year.

Instead, Michigan is trying to ramp up vaccinations as fast as it can. In Detroit, the mayor lowered the bar for getting a vaccine a week sooner than expected because of the number of young people getting infected.

"It is now the younger people that are being infected, the younger people that are being hospitalized and we have got to start to get them vaccinated," said Mayor Mike Duggan. 

Now, any resident 16 and up or employee who works in the city can get a vaccine. 

Duggan said the majority of the 896 new cases reported in the last two weeks are among age groups 20-29 and 30-39. Hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19-positive patients have also increasingly been filled with younger people.

But even with a 12% positive test rate being reported, deaths have remained low. Over the weekend, more than 8,200 new cases were reported, but only eight additional deaths.

While deaths are a lagging indicator of what could be on the horizon, young people can also weather the most severe symptoms of the pandemic. Elderly people cannot.

Michigan's vaccine coverage rate is about 32%. Next week, the rest of the state's adult population will become eligible, just in time to use the services offered at Ford Field and at Meijer. When vaccine protection supersedes infections will give other states a good idea about what they can expect if a third surge arrives at their doorsteps as well.

Tattoo scam sends people to Oak Park

An Instagram account that people have been contacting for tattoo work has been scamming people by sending them to an address in Oak Park after receiving a fee for scheduling an appointment.

The account "tattsbyjaydaboss" has been taking deposits of $30 over Cash App before sending people to Tamara Compton's home. She says she's already seen at least 15 people, all with their mouths wide open when they learn they were duped.

"They know they’re coming to a house to get a tattoo from this guy named Jay," Compton said. "But they don’t have a phone number for him or anything. They are just talking to him via direct message."

The owner of the Gallery Tattoo Shop in Detroit says they were privy to another scam where people would arrive saying they were there to see an artist who took deposit money for some work done. 

"We’re both looking like deer in the headlights. And then it started happening a second time, a third time. I’m like, 'Ok, we've got a problem,'" said Virgil Smith.

Board members resigning from Detroit Institute of Art

At least six board members at the Detroit Institute of Art have resigned in protest of the museum's leader Salvador Salort-Pons.

Salort-Pons has been under fire since a report detailed potential conflicts of interest in regards to art sales he has done with outside business people. More reports have described how the director created a "hostile" work environment for employees.

Employee satisfaction has declined at the museum in the last few years, surveys have shown while other findings show that women in management positions left the museum at a higher rate than men since Salort-Pons was hired.

Wayne County Warren Evans commended the individuals that resigned in protest, saying they were "taking a principled stand against workplace harassment and insular management styles.

"These board members sent a strong message that grievances aired by women employees of the DIA must be taken seriously by the museum’s executive leadership and its governing board."

Every Meijer offering a vaccine

Every Meijer pharmacy in Michigan is now offering vaccines to those that are eligible. The Grand Rapids-based grocery chain was selected to be part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program so it could directly administer shots.

The expansion will come along with at least 150,000 doses this week alone, as Michigan hopes to beat a climbing rate of new infections. The vaccines will be available at locations throughout the Midwest. 

To register for an appointment, simply text COVID to the number 75049 to receive a link. From there, people will be processed through a three-question screening to gauge priority status.

People can also go online at clinic.meijer.com/ and register there as well. 

What else we're watching

  1. Rev. Wendell Anthony was awarded the Activist of the Year accolade from the NAACP for his work in securing voting rights and offering support during the pandemic.
  2. Detroit's mayor has a warning for fans of the Tigers on Opening Day - if you don't have a ticket, don't come downtown. One of Michigan's first warm-season events is here, just in time for spiking infections. 
  3. Michigan Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence has introduced legislation to posthumously award Aretha Franklin the Congressional Gold Media.
  4. Today is the DNR's 100th birthday...sorta. The department, which started out as the Department of Conservation, was created in 1921 to service labor and conservation efforts around the state. 
  5. MDOT is beginning major bridge repair work over I-75 that will persist throughout the year. The project involves 12 bridges between M-8 and 7 Mile Road. Two lanes of the highway will be open in each direction during peak travel times. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Temperatures are going to get hot today, with a warm front pushing us into the 70s territory. But rain tonight and a cold front tomorrow will force most of that back down for the next two days. 

The trial of Derek Chauvin began yesterday. Witness testimony will continue today

Witness testimony will continue Tuesday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. The trial is being broadcast live, gavel to gavel, on FOX 9 and streaming live at fox9.com/live

Court proceedings begin at 8 a.m. Donald Williams, an MMA fighter who witnessed Floyd’s death, will return to the witness stand at 9:30 a.m. 

Fifteen jurors were seated during jury selection, but Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the 15th juror before opening statements. The 14 remaining jurors will hear the whole case, but only 12 will deliberate. The two alternate jurors will step in if one of the 12 has to excuse themselves from the case. Judge Cahill has instructed the jurors to avoid any media coverage of the trial.