Vaccine demand is slipping, a drug kingpin's connection to Grosse Pointe Park, where to find Morels

Ford Field is about halfway through its eight-week clinic, having administered about 150,000 doses in that time.

But there's a new problem on the horizon for getting enough of the state's residents protected. Demand is starting to slip.

That was evident at Detroit mass vaccine site when there was a 2,000 dose slump at Ford Field last week.

"With the Johnson and Johnson news - the slip in demand could have been a blip in reacting to that news," said Kerry Ebersole-Singh. "Or it could've been folks have actually gotten doses in other locations and didn't report back to decline their appointment or cancel their appointment."

It could also mean that supply is outstripping demand. Michigan has fully vaccinated about a third of the state. It wants to get up to 70% before the year's end as an implicit benchmark for herd immunity.

But in recent days, the number of doses being administered has started falling. More communities are starting to see more vaccines than appointments. Ebersole-Singh wasn't expecting the shift in demand to happen so soon. "We thought this point would be later in May, but it's here now."

Until now, getting a vaccine has been a personal decision. The onus has been on the resident to register through one of the many pharmacies or hospitals and then make the trip to get the shot. 

It's as much a question of access as it is hesitancy in Detroit, where vaccine coverage is particularly low. That's why the Johnson & Johnson delay proved a detrimental disruption to the city, which was hoping to inoculate its citizens during Neighborhood week with just one shot.

The J&J dose was also helpful for rural communities elsewhere in the state, which may be less enthused about getting the shot but would receive one if the shot was brought to them. Pfizer and Moderna are still on the market, but the cold storage requirements for the former's vaccine mean transporting the shots isn't as feasible outside of industrial hospitals.

Ebersole-Singh said cities and local governments will need to meet people where they're at. Incentives like the $500 being offered by Detroit Public Schools to get the shot are also being considered. Even dispensaries are promoting vaccines as part of a "joints for jabs" campaign.

Feds: alleged drug kingpin was backed by Grosse Pointe Park man

It's a story suited for a James Bond movie. A now-deceased Grosse Pointe Park man was named in a federal complaint that accused an Albanian international drug trafficker of working to build a submarine that would transport cocaine across the Atlantic Ocean.

Ylli Didani, 43, was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Prior to his death in a plane crash, the Grosse Pointe Park man had been financing the submarine's construction.

The submarine was to be equipped with an underwater modem and GPS antenna that would attach to the bottom of a commercial containership and would then be remotely released from the bottom of the ship while off the shore of Europe. A fishing boat controlled by Didani's organization would eventually pick up the submarine.

Federal authorities seized more than $100 million worth of cocaine distributed by Didani's organization, the complaint read. "This is a very significant and important prosecution of a large scale, well-organized drug trafficking organization involved in the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine worth tens of millions of dollars, across multiple continents," said Saima Mohsin.

Read about the entire investigation here.

Human skeleton found in vacant home

A man sent to clean an old vacant house finds a human skeleton inside Thursday afternoon. The grim discovery came in residence in the 900 block of  East Hollywood Avenue in Detroit.

Footage reviewed by FOX 2 showed it was in fact real. Quincy Norman, who works for the company that is contracted by the Detroit Land Bank to clean up abandoned houses, said he sees "all kinds of stuff" when he's working. "I walked past the couch that I walked past like a week ago and nothing has changed in the house - but I didn’t see it until today."

Lying on the couch was a human skeleton. "It was leaned over on the couch like may have been sleeping or something," Norman said. "Like he may have fallen asleep."

Neighbors tell FOX 2 they haven’t seen anyone living there for about two years. They remember a man squatting at the house after he was no longer able to pay the property taxes.

Whitmer: Michigan facilities to be 100% renewable by 2025

Michigan's governor has set the state on a closing deadline to convert all of its government facilities to renewable energy by 2025. Gretchen Whitmer's Earth Day announcement was part of a countrywide promise from the president to use fewer fossil fuels.

The state will achieve its goal using a partnership with the utility providers DTE, Consumers Energy, and Lansing Board of Water and Light. Whitmer also wants to put the state on track to decarbonize by 2050.

"By moving state-owned buildings to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, we are working towards protecting public health and our environment, while attracting more clean energy jobs to Michigan," she said Thursday.

Whitmer also launched an interagency team across different departments to identify their potential solar footprint that will be part of a larger rollout of solar energy.

Novi man held in Russia has declining health

The family of Paul Whelan, the man who was arrested in Russia under suspicions of espionage, says his health is declining as his incarceration at a prison camp enters another year. "He was never was a spy, he isn't a spy now," said David Whelan. "Now he sits every day and trims the loose strings off clothes they make at the prison."

Paul was first arrested while attending a wedding in 2018. His family and the U.S. believe it was a set-up. That's why Congress plans to pass a resolution demanding the government release him from prison. 

Both Reps. Tim Walberg and Haley Stevens expressed support for Paul and said they were determined to return him home safely. "We have our policies in place about negotiations and what we will not do, but in this case, if they have evidence on Paul, they need to show it to us," Walberg said. "If not, they need to release him immediately."

The Whelan family says there is renewed hope after they saw President Joe Biden implement new sanctions against the country. "I think it's a huge improvement. It's a thing where, if there is a release of Paul, that's what it is going to take," said David.

Hamtramck man charged with sexually assaulting Detroit girl

A 38-year-old man from Hamtramck was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree after he allegedly touched a girl inappropriately at a gas station.

Fsle Saoeh was charged by the Wayne County prosecutor. While working at a gas station on E Seven Mile Road, a 13-year-old Detroit girl and her brother had gone to buy snacks. While there, Saoeh inappropriately touched the girl, according to a release from the county.

The girl and brother immediately went home and told their mom what happened. The mother contacted the police who then was arrested later that day.

Saoeh was arraigned yesterday in the 36th District Court.

What else we're watching

  1. Another hearing in the case of Egypt Covington will begin today at 1 p.m. It's a procedural hearing with the family.
  2. Have you ever had a morel mushroom? The honeycomb-looking fungi are one of the tastiest in Michigan. But to find one, you'll need a keen eye and a trowel. The DNR has put out a map where the likeliest ones can be. 
  3. Former health director Robert Gordon is expected to testify next week about his abrupt departure from the current administration this year. A subpoena that forces him to appear before a committee was authorized Thursday.
  4. More than 5,000 people are without power in Roseville this morning. The cause of the outage is unknown.
  5. Students at Southeast Oakland Schools Technical will get some hands-on learning from DTE which will be installing utility poles on the campus. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Temperatures are starting out cold once again but will make a 30-degree swing up to about 62 by late afternoon. The weekend will have more of the same with rain expected tomorrow.

Godspeed! SpaceX launches 4 astronauts to the International Space Station

SpaceX’s Crew-2 is headed for the International Space Station after a successful pre-dawn launch on Friday.

The Falcon 9 rocket thundered into the morning sky from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:49 a.m. ET. 

"I couldn't be more proud of the Commercial Crew Program, and the SpaceX team, and the NASA team and what they've been able to do to enable reliable, safe, effective transportation to and from station," Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said at a press conference earlier this week.

Before the liftoff, NASA tweeted a video of the International Space Station flying over the Kennedy Space Center.

The mission marks SpaceX’s third crewed flight in partnership with NASA, following its previous launch Crew-1 and Demo-2 missions. The launch also marks the first time that SpaceX reuses a rocket and a capsule for a mission.