Oakland County mask mandate brings protests, how TikTok turned a Berkley teen into a supermodel, more outages

Dozens of school boards will no longer be managing the fury of parents in the debate over mask mandates for students. That's because the Oakland County Health Division made their own decision to mandate masks themselves.

According to the health department, until the threat of COVID-19 transmission falls from substantial to moderate for 14 days, the 200,000 students that attend school in the county will need to mask up. 

It might shift the anger away from weekly school board meetings, but the surprise move is sure to stir irritation from some parents. More than a dozen were already gathering outside the division's Pontiac headquarters Wednesday morning.

But in the eyes of educators, the move will ease the burden on school administrators that may not have felt right making medical decisions without medical expertise. 

"It was causing division within our communities, it was pitting families against one another, and ultimately boards of education and superintendents were caught in the middle," said Novi Superintendent Steve Matthews. 

The new policy orders all students and staff in K-12 private, public, and charter schools must require masks. The state's second-largest county sent a press release Tuesday evening announcing the update. It pertains to all students and staff, regardless of vaccination.

"The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is the dominant variant in Michigan and is significantly more contagious than the original form that entered the United States in winter 2020," the department said. "Current research indicates the Delta variant may cause more serious illness in persons of all ages, including children. 

"West Michigan cases have already emerged in which previously healthy infants, children, and teens have faced hospitalization, life support, life-threatening complications (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children) and chronic symptoms (Long COVID-19)."

The surprise move is the first in the state.

Districts from Grosse Pointe, Birmingham, and beyond have seen the issues of mask rules escalate into shouting matches from parents. 

New Westland police recruit charged with domestic violence

A recent hire at the Westland Police Department has been charged in multiple domestic violence cases after he allegedly punched his girlfriend before strangling her. Officer Sebastian Iavasile was arrested twice on Aug. 22 early for two separate incidents in Livonia and Northville for assaulting a 24-year-old woman.

Both incidents prompted calls from police and include separate charges. According to a Wayne County Prosecutor's Office press release, Iavasile punched his girlfriend in the nose in Livonia. He was charged with a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery.

Then, later on Aug. 22 at 1:28 a.m., Northville police were called to an apartment where the same 24-year-old woman alleged she was physically assaulted by her boyfriend. According to the prosecutor's office, Iavasile struck the woman and strangled her.

Following a warrant request that was signed the same day, he was charged with felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm and another misdemeanor domestic violence charge. In the Livonia case, he was given a cash bond of $3,000/10% during his arraignment and his next court date is Sept. 9. In the Northville case, he was given a $5,000 personal bond and is scheduled for an examination on September 1. 

More power outages plague Metro Detroit

It's been a summer to forget some tens of thousands of Metro Detroit residents who have seen their lights flicker and their refrigerators turn off periodically over the past few months. The severe weather that's plagued the region swept through again Wednesday morning, knocking power out for more than 40,000 people at one point.

According to DTE's outage map, at least 30,000 people still didn't have power, as of 7 a.m. While the occasional outage dotted Detroit and some of the surrounding cities, Royal Oak, Sterling Heights, and parts of northern Oakland County appeared to be dealing with the worst of the wind damage. 

It's the latest case of strong winds and heavy rain having its way with Michigan's power grid. DTE had just recently finished restoring power to some 600,000 people after strong winds and a thunderstorm swept through the state in mid-August. The massive outage brought criticism from many exhausted from the inconsistency of reliable power. 

Consumers Energy customers didn't escape unscathed either, with close to 38,000 people, most in mid-to-north Michigan, losing power. You can check out their outage map here.

Berkley 18-year-old becomes supermodel after TikTok discovery

Sammy Pandolfi hadn't intended on seeing his star shine when he was making videos on TikTok. Like so many teens, the 18-year-old found himself bored during the pandemic lockdown and decided to make content. 

But instead, a professional agency discovered him and asked if he'd like to take his talents to the modeling world. Since then, he's started working with some of the biggest names in the fashion industry. "They reached out to me on Instagram through a direct message at first - I was like, this can't be real," he said.

It was a scam he thought. But he followed up anyway. He was playing video games for money while working for Doordash. Now an online portfolio features Pandolfi in several poses wearing a variety of outfits. He's modeling for Yves Saint Laurent's spring summer collection and walking the runway in Venice, Italy - something unheard of for up-and-coming models.

"It was incredible, it was absolutely incredible," he said. "I made friends I will have for the rest of my life and the work was honestly fun." Pandolfi's parents say they're blessed and fortunate to see their son succeed. 

The Milk Crate Challenge - another internet fad to not attempt

Whatever happened to the ice bucket challenge? Teens have apparently moved on from eating Tide Pods and frozen honey to something equally viral - but no less painful to watch. The latest social media challenge asks people to stack milk crates one by one and walking over them.

Easy enough right? Wrong. It's hard and it's dangerous - leading to serious injuries from falling on crates that were never meant to be stacked six crates high and walked on.

"They’re all landing like on their chest and abdomen, which is very concerning," said Dr. Crystal Arthur. "If you dislocate your shoulder at 22, you’re probably going to have issues when you're 65."

YouTubers JC and ANT brought the challenge to Detroit, filming people attempting it on the east side. It did really well, the video creators said. "We are in Detroit, everybody tough out here, you feel me? It's all fun," said JC.

What else we're watching

  1. After $30 million in renovations, the owner of Detroit's historic Fisher Building has put it up for sale. The world's largest marble-clad commercial building has seven fully modernized elevators, a new fire alarm, air conditioning, and a renovated Arcade ceiling.
  2. Two members of Congress, including Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer flew to Kabul in Afghanistan in a surprise flight amid the chaotic evacuation. The two Congressmen said they went to conduct important oversight. 
  3. Ty Garbin, the first of many Whitmer kidnapping plotters to plead guilty, will be sentenced Wednesday. Prosecutors have recommended a nine-year sentence.
  4. Researchers on Tuesday say they have traced the genetic makeup of lake trout, which will enable scientists to rebuild populations in the Great Lakes. 
  5. Amid all the mask rulings was another key court filing from a federal appeals court that ruled a Catholic school had lost its case in which it argued it was exempt from mandating masks because of religious reasons. 

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Daily Forecast

Ready for more hot weather? Because it's returning today and is expected to stick around through the weekend. But that's not all as Wednesday could usher in another round of severe weather this afternoon. If it hits - a big if - it could bring 45-55 mph winds, and that means more power outages.

Biden infrastructure agenda advances as House passes $3.5 trillion budget

Striking a deal with moderates, House Democratic leaders muscled President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar budget blueprint over a key hurdle Tuesday, ending a risky standoff and putting the party’s domestic infrastructure agenda back on track.

The 220-212 vote was a first move toward drafting Biden’s $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan this fall, and the narrow outcome, in the face of unanimous Republican opposition, signaled the power a few voices have to alter the debate and the challenges ahead still threatening to upend the president’s agenda.

From the White House, Biden praised the outcome as "a step closer to truly investing in the American people." He said at a news conference that he had called to congratulate House leaders for the work.