WEDNESDAY NEWS HIT - In a legislating session that went on well after most of Michigan had gone to bed, lawmakers passed a number of bills aimed at filling gaps in coronavirus relief and protection left open following a repeal of the governor's executive orders.
The legislation targeted extending unemployment benefits, increasing liability protection for health care providers offering services during the COVID-19 outbreak, and reversing a nursing home policy that allowed elderly patients infected with the virus to be placed in facilities where non-infected patients were located.
The midnight rush of lawmaking follows more than a week of uncertainty regarding the status of executive declarations made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during Michigan's state of emergency. Following a repeal by the state Supreme Court of the 1945 emergency law that Whitmer had used to made new orders, the governor has sought other avenues for enforcing her policies.
Among the most pressing issues for voters were the presence of funds for unemployed workers. The state had previously boosted benefits for workers affected by the pandemic. Under the bills approved early Wednesday morning, unemployment benefits would be extended for 26 more weeks to about 380,000 residents.
The Senate also approved rules that would allow municipalities like local governments and public schools to conduct meetings electronically. Meanwhile, in the House, lawmakers extended the expiration deadline for Michigan driver's licenses and vehicle registrations until Dec. 31, 2020.
The GOP-led chambers spent much of Tuesday negotiating with the Whitmer administration, a process that's been sparse over the spring and summer months. Tempers between the two bodies have flared as the governor defied Republican wishes and extended the state of emergency in Michigan.
The law Whitmer used to extend that emergency was ultimately ruled unconstitutional on Oct. 2, which automatically voided any orders made under the law.
While the state health department did reinstate some rules like the mask mandate in public spaces, many other rules were left out.
Has Michigan's second COVID-19 wave arrived?
Many months ago, health officials long justified the necessity of a strict lockdown policy in Michigan to allow the state to rebound from its initial surge of COVID-19 and protect it from an expected second surge. Now halfway through October, Michigan's chief health officer suspects the state's second wave has arrived.
Michigan's seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases eclipsed 1,000 on Monday, the highest it's been since April. On Tuesday, 1,237 cases were confirmed.
"It is very possible this is the beginning of a second wave," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan chief medical executive. "The virus has not changed. It is an opportunist. If people are not wearing masks, if people are gathering, if people are not washing their hands, it will spread."
Khaldun attributed the spread to outbreaks in sports facilities, work settings, assisted living facilities, and in schools and college campuses.
Michigan had 89 new cases per 1 million people per day, up from 81.6 cases last week, the health department said. About 700 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals, up about 20% from last week. The rate of positive tests has ticked up to 3.6% from 3.4%. It was under 3% in June.
Ironically, the second surge isn't happening in places that struggled to contain the outbreak earlier in the year. Khaldun said in many places the case rate is the highest it's ever been. Notably, cases have climbed fast in the upper peninsula.
Suspect arraigned in Warren execution killings
A 37-year-old man from West Bloomfield was arraigned on homicide and felony firearm charges Tuesday, following a joint investigation between Warren police and federal law enforcement.
Nicholas Raad Bahri was charged with three murder counts after he allegedly shot and killed a 6-year-old boy and the boy's father's girlfriend. He's also been charged with the killing of the boy's father, whose body was found in a torched car in Detroit around the same time.
Warren's police commissioner spared few words when he described the suspect.
"Nicholas Bahri. Barbarian. Child Killer. and he will serve his time," Dwyer said, holding up a photo of the suspect. "I have talked to U.S. attorney also, Mr. Schneider, Matthew Schneider. I've talked about this before as far as possibly taking this person under criminal capital offense. Mr. Schneider is monitoring the case very closely."
In what police are attributing to "drugs and money," the home where 6-year-old Tai'raz Moore and 28-year-old Isis Rimson's bodies were found had been ransacked. Drugs, guns, and cash were also found throughout the home. The father, Tukuyo Moore, was allegedly involved in drug trafficking and had been involved with Bahri.
3 hospitalized after South Lyon apartment fire
A fire at a townhouse in South Lyon has displaced several residents and hospitalized three.
Around midnight a fire tore through the Colonial Acres complex, causing massive damage to the interior of the building. Photos from inside show the walls and ceiling with heavy fire and smoke damage.
Eight people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation or the hospital. The community houses elderly residents, including two who were discovered unconscious when emergency crews arrived. Their injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.
The South Lyon police chief credited a working smoke detector with saving everyone's lives.
"Smoke detectors save lives. That's the fact, they woke them up, she saw the smoke, she evacuated, called 911, she did great. She really saved all the residents," said Chief Robert Vogel.
The fire is believed to have started in the basement, which is why there was little damage to the outside of the building.
3 denied bond in alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Members of anti-government paramilitary groups implicated in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's governor over measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus during a fraught election year also discussed abducting Virginia's governor during a June meeting, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.
During a hearing in a Grand Rapids federal court to review the evidence against the five Michigan defendants, Magistrate Judge Sally Berens ordered Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta to be held without bond until the trial.
She said she would rule at a later date on the bond status of the other two Michigan men, Adam Fox and Ty Garbin. A sixth defendant from Delaware, Barry Croft, was ordered Tuesday to be transferred to Michigan to face the charges.
Berens' ruling came after a day-long hearing in which FBI agent Richard Trask revealed new details about investigators' use of confidential informants, undercover agents and encrypted communication in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, before Election Day.
How the Detroit native and Nobel Prize winner learned he won
Doorbell cams aren't just good for catching criminals it appears. They can also document some rather happy moments as well.
That includes Paul Migrom's neighbors informing the Standford University professor and Detroit native of his winning the Nobel Prize.
"It's Bob Wilson. You've won the Nobel Prize. They're trying to reach you but they cannot. They don't seem to have a number for you," Wilson is heard saying on Milgrom's porch.
Milgrom's work revealed the intricacies of bidding practices and its intersection with human decision making.
Oakland County deputies race to save 10-month-old choking on drug paraphernalia
Deputies called to the 100 block of Parkdale Avenue in Pontiac helped rescue an unconscious baby choking on drug paraphernalia.
After beginning CPR, the child's condition became so bad it was taken to McLaren Oakland Hospital immediately.
Detectives spoke with doctors and learned the child choked and had gone into cardiac arrest. During interviews with the parents, they learned it was possible the baby found drug paraphernalia in a trash can in the home and ingested it.
Detectives are still investigating and Children's Protective Services was notified of the incident.
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More dry conditions on the way and a high of 64 degrees is forecasted for Wednesday. Expect some precipitation Thursday.
Supreme Court halts census count after Trump administration filing
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the once-a-decade headcount of every U.S. resident from continuing through the end of October.
President Donald Trump’s administration had asked the nation’s high court to suspend a district court’s order permitting the 2020 census to continue through the end of the month. The Trump administration argued that the headcount needed to end immediately so the U.S. Census Bureau had enough time to crunch the numbers before a congressionally mandated year-end deadline for turning in figures used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.
A coalition of local governments and civil rights groups had sued the Trump administration, arguing that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the count ended early. They said the census schedule was cut short to accommodate a July order from Trump that would exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used to decide how many congressional seats each state gets.
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.