Mask mandates return, another high in Michigan gas prices, America's mass shootings

Is Michigan's grace period of low Covid rates over? At least one Oakland County school is reinstating its mask mandate. Metro Detroit automakers are also bolstering their defenses, including some new mask orders.

The moves follow the elevation of the area's threat level over concerns of COVID-19 transmission.

Ferndale Public Schools says it will reinstate its mask ordinance beginning this week, after the county entered into the "high transmission" category for coronavirus. 

"We will be mandating masks (indoors only) for all students and staff as of Monday, May 16th, 2022," read the school district's website late last week.

Both Ford and Stellantis said they reimplement a mask mandate Monday. 

In addition to Oakland, transmission rates were in the high category in Livingston, Macomb, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. Several other northern and western counties also met the same threshold as proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week.

County health departments in Metro Detroit began lifting their mask ordinances February this year on the backs of vaccine coverage and growing immunity from COVID-19. Michigan has experienced low rates of transmission ever since.

Case rates have been slowly ticking up, however. The state reported an average of 4,000 cases per day last week, increase from 2,700 daily cases recorded the week prior.

"As Omicron has moved into the state, and across the country, we've kind of been insidiously creeping up through medium, and now we've reached high transmission," said Dr. Russell Faust, the medical director for Oakland County.

The decision to update mask and other safety policies is now one that school districts must make. At first, it was a statewide order that was reduced to a health department ordinance. Only the state's most populated counties continued enforcing mask rules following policy actions in the legislature. Others rescinded their orders over lawsuit fears

"We're still experiencing fatalities from COVID-19 infections so let's take this seriously. If you're out in public around other people, wear a mask protect yourself… get fully vaccinated and if you're eligible, get boosted," Dr. Faust said last week.

Michigan gas prices hit another high

The hits keep coming at the gas pump as Michigan again set a new record high for oil prices. Michigan drivers are now paying $4.38 per gallon for regular gas. That's another 5 cents higher from a week ago, which is 48 cents more than last month. 

The total pain in dollar signs comes at about $65 for a full 15-gallon tank of gas, about $14 higher than when gas prices were last at their highest in November. Global tensions are behind the uncertainty that's driving up the cost of gasoline, despite an increase of supply and decrease in demand locally. 

Russia is again the source of tension as the European Union continues to coalesce around a protective stance against the country. Finland and Sweden also recently announced their intention to join NATO, which Russia considered an act of aggression. China's zero-Covid policy, which features stringent lockdowns and is considered more severe than most other country's responses, is also driving up market concern about crude demand. 

Northern Michigan was the most expensive place to find gas, hitting $4.49 a gallon in Marquette. Metro Detroit hit $4.44 a gallon, and Ann Arbor is at $4.41. The lowest prices were in Traverse City, reaching on average $4.21 a gallon.

Northbound I-375 in Detroit closed all week for construction

Road construction this week will shut down northbound I-375 in Detroit. Freeway closures on the outbound lanes out of downtown Detroit will completely block access for traffic for the entire week. Road crews closed off the highway Monday at 5 a.m.

The northbound lane closure will be in effect until Friday, May 20 at 3 p.m.

According to a release from the Michigan Department of Transportation, milling and resurfacing work is needed on the freeway. 

The closures are between E Jefferson Avenue and I-75. The local I-375 service drives remain open for local access. The detours include Jefferson, Lodge Freeway before getting onto I-75.

Two people found dead in house fire on Detroit's east side Saturday night

The Detroit Fire Department and the Detroit Police Department are investigating a double fatal fire on Detroit's east side.

Two people in their late 60's were found dead in a house fire Saturday night in the 15000 block of Cedargrove Ave, south of 7 Mile Road.

It is being investigated as an accidental fire according to investigators.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. It is uncertain if the victims died before or because of the fire, said the Detroit Fire Department. The investigation is ongoing.

Ray Gray Freedom Drive raises funds for wrongly incarcerated

Ray Gray spent 50 years in prison for a crime someone else confessed to committing. One painting at a time he is on a mission to help others find the freedom he now has. "Most of this art was done when I was wrongly incarcerated," Gray said.

He has since devoted his time to helping others who may find themselves in a similar position. The money raised from his art sales goes towards a new non-profit called Swift Justice. "An organization that deals with those who are wrongly incarcerated," Gray said.

"To do more investigations to help free innocent men and women," said Shelby Shoup, co-creator of Seeking Justice. Ray Gray was sentenced to life in prison in 1973 for a murder in Detroit. He was set free a year ago after another man confessed to the crime.

"He is the longest-serving innocent prisoner in the US," Shoup said. Most of Ray Gray's art pieces are being signed "Free Ray Gray" as a reminder of the struggle he endured and of what can and can't be taken from all of us. "It had multiple meanings, not only did I want to be free from prison, but I was free in my thoughts and in my expressions," Gray said.

What else we're watching

  1. Michigan State Police say a semi-truck was leaking fuel into the storm drain in Lathrup Village following a traffic crash Sunday morning. The right two lane were closed on Southfield Road for cleanup. 
  2. From May 16 to June 5, police are rolling out its Click It or Ticket initiative to promote seatbelt wearing. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, seat belts have saved 344,448 lives since 1975. 
  3. Downtown Detroit will be hosting the Downtown Street Eats program throughout the week, which features a bonanza of food truck food to be enjoyed. City-goers can find the trucks at Cadillac Square and the Woodward Esplanade.
  4. The highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in three baby red foxes. The persistent disease has stormed through several non-commerical bird flocks in the state and spooked some wildlife experts about the threat to birds.
  5. Former Vice President Mike Pence is returning to Michigan this week. Pence is expected to deliver remarks at Rochester Hills at a school regarding tax credits for private school students. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

As the rain trails off this week, temperatures are expected to cool a bit by midweek, giving us a break from the 80-degree days that were a feature of last week's weather. 

America's violent weekend: Deadly mass shootings span coast-to-coast

A series of mass shootings killed and injured several people over the weekend in Buffalo, New York; Laguna Woods, California, and Houston Texas. In Buffalo, an 18-year-old shot and killed 10 people at a grocery store in what police called a "straight-up racially motivated hate crime."

California churchgoers were also targeted after a deadly shooting at a parish in Orange County. One was killed and four others were wounded.

Two others were killed and three were injured in a shooting at a Houston flea market following what authorities labeled as an "altercation" between five people.