WEDNESDAY NEWS HIT - For all the uncertainty that remains regarding Michigan's elections on Aug. 4, there is at least one result that the secretary of state was confident confirming: "...it could be well into tomorrow before we know the results."
While results from some of the less competitive races trickled in before the clock struck 12 Tuesday night, most races still remained unconfirmed as election clerks from around the state counted a record 1.5 million absentee ballots that were returned to district polling sites. While not the first election to be held under pandemic conditions, the statewide primary races that voters cast their ballots in on Tuesday represented the first big test for Michigan's election systems.
While delays were always going to be likely, Secretary Jocelyn Benson has warned in the past, she has also promoted the option of absentee voting as a safe way for a citizen to cast their vote in elections. Clerks were then left with tabulating by hand the tens of thousands of votes arriving by mail, which meant it wasn't only machines doing the heavy lifting on Tuesday. While most nomination contests are still unconfirmed, we do have some we can accurately predict.
Both incumbent Reps Debbie Dingell of the 12th District and Brenda Lawrence of the 14th District earned the Democratic nomination after little resistance from competing party members. Both popular members in Democratic-majority districts, it's unlikely the state of either race will waiver from now until the general election in November, barring a major change.
In a hotly contested 3rd District campaign on the west side of the state, which made national headlines for its current representative Justin Amash becoming an outspoken critic of the president, Peter Meijer handily won the race. Meijer beat out a republican state rep and three other party members to easily claim victory before the night's end.
Believe it or not, that's where the consensus on election results ends regarding Washington politics. Twelfth District Rep. Rashida Tlaib holds a commanding but very early lead over Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. The race is still too close to call in the Republican nomination contests for the 8th and 11th Districts, whom the winner will take on Democrats Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens, respectively. The largely conservative 10th District race to take over for Republican Paul Mitchell is also too close to call.
With the exception of Karen Whitsett, who remains a unicorn among Democrat statehouse representatives in a competitive race for her seat, incumbents faired will in local district races in Detroit. However, it should be emphasized that almost all these races still show tiny percentages of total results being cast and very little has been confirmed.
Unlike the last two elections held in Michigan, Aug. 4 offered up some juicy races for high-level executive positions in Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb Counties.
In Oakland County, current Executive Dave Coulter held an 11,000 vote lead over Andy Meisner for the Democratic nomination Wednesday morning, while Mike Kowall held a solid lead over Jeffrey Nutt for the Republican nomination.
In what looks to be one of the largest rebukes of an incumbent to date, Oakland County voters cast their ballot for Karen McDonald as county prosecutor by a 2-1 margin over incumbent Jessica Cooper. Lin Goetz ran unopposed for the Republican nomination.
Vincent Gregory held a 12,000 vote lead over Barnett Jones in what's expected to be a general election battle against longtime incumbent Michael Bouchard for Oakland County Sheriff.
Among the more paid attention to raises in Macomb County was the vacant seat for county prosecutor, previously held by Eric Smith before he was charged with running a criminal enterprise. While several Democrats vying for the seat carried balanced percentages of the total vote, State Sen. Pete Lucido ran away with the Republican nomination. Terence Mekoski appears to be on his way to face Anthony Wickersham for sheriff in Macomb County.
In her most competitive race in years, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a solid lead over contender Victoria Burton-Harris. Results from the page show that while Burton-Harris held a slight edge in election-day voting, Worthy handily won absentee ballot votes. Incumbent Benny Napoleon also ran away with the race for Wayne County Sheriff.
Whitmer to hold COVID-19 press conference Wednesday
The Michigan governor is planning on updating residents on the state's COVID-19 status at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The state has been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with regards to the virus, which has persisted through local outbreaks spurred on by young people attending large gatherings.
In the most recent example of teens flouting the social distancing rules, at least six gatherings identified in Fenton and South Lyon have sparked an outbreak of more than 150 cases in Oakland, Genesee, and Livingston counties. The gatherings, which include prom-like and graduation parties, took place in mid-to-late July.
While these cases have helped contribute to a resurgence of the coronavirus in Michigan, the state's second uptick in new cases appears to have hit a plateau since it started rising in mid-June. On Tuesday, health officials announced 664 new cases and eight additional deaths linked to the virus.
Whitmer hasn't added too many more directives in a bit, but she did bolster enforcement of social distancing and face mask rules in the state. Announcing the order on Tuesday, the order requires state police to enforce violations of COVID-19 executive orders similar to the way police would enforce "any other violation of law, using enforcement discretion as appropriate."
"Where Michigan was once among the states most heavily hit by COVID-19, our per-capita case rate is now below the national average. Our progress in suppressing the disease, however, appears to have slowed," Whitmer said.
Detroit casinos reopen today
Of the other recent orders given by Whitmer was the green light for casinos to reopen in Michigan today. After nearly five months of remaining empty, the large money makers for Detroit and the state will start accepting patrons again, but at 15% capacity.
"People are excited, clearly excited. The worst thing to not do is operate," Bruce Dall, the president of Motor City Casino, told FOX 2 on Monday.
In addition to the capacity limit, temperature checks, plexiglass at tables, and one-way walkways and social distancing will also be present at gambling machines. Casinos will also be updating their cleaning protocols.
"We've researched every chemical that we could think of. We have a backpack sprayer that will sanitize it once a day. There's over 200 hand sanitizing stations; I could go on and on," Dall said.
Suspect charged with murder of poker player who was found burned in White Lake
A man has been charged with the murder of a professional poker player after her body was found badly burned in an Oakland County forest in July.
Jeffrey Morris, 60, was arraigned from a hospital bed on Tuesday, for the killing of Susie Zhao. Her body had been discovered in a forest in White Lake. Zhao was a resident of Waterford Township and played poker for a living in California.
It's unclear how the two parties are connected.
Morris is currently on probation for retail fraud and, according to the court, has an extensive criminal history including multiple domestic violence charges and is a registered sex offender.
According to his former landlord, Dawn Carr, something wasn't right when she met him six months ago. She said he had a decent job and seemed normal, at first.
"He answered an ad to rent from me and I rented a basement to him for four months. He seemed like a real creeper to me so I had to get him out of here, so i evicted him," Carr said.
Human trials begin in Henry Ford Health vaccine experiment
Beginning Wednesday, thousands of Michigan citizens will begin receiving the first doses of a potential vaccine that has shown potential in fending off COVID-19. The antidote, now in its third phase after revealing to be harmless to humans and strong enough to kill the virus, will now be injected into 5,000 state citizens and 30,000 people across the country.
While the human trials are taking place in 90 different health systems, the only one taking place in Michigan is at Henry Ford Health.
"This is a historic time for us. With millions of infections worldwide, hundreds of thousands of deaths, to be in a position where we now have a vaccine where we can begin to look at and hopefully get approved in the near future is an extremely important time for us and we're very excited to be part of this very groundbreaking project," said Dr. Marcus Zervos, the chief of infectious disease at the hospital.
The promising drug, identified as Moderna mRNA-1273, will be administered to half of the participants, while the other half will receive a placebo. Called a double-blind study, it will take two shots, five appointments, and at least two years of checkups.
"I'm just really excited to try and help find answers. I think we're all just so desperate for this nightmare to end, I know that I am and I just think that a vaccine is the only way we're going to be able to move forward so I'm excited to be apart of it," said one 24-year-old from Taylor.
Temperatures will begin rising again today, reaching a high of 77 degrees. Expect temperatures to climb even higher by the week's end.
Fireworks, ammonium nitrate likely fueled Beirut explosion
Fireworks and ammonium nitrate appear to have been the fuel that ignited a massive explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut, experts and videos of the blast suggest.
The Lebanese Red Cross said at least 100 people were killed and more than 4,000 were injured.
The scale of the damage — from the epicenter of the explosion at the port of Beirut to the windows blown out kilometers (miles) away — resembles other blasts involving the chemical compound commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer.
But the compound itself typically doesn't detonate on its own and requires another ignition source. That likely came from a fire that engulfed what initially appeared to be fireworks that were stored at the port.