FRIDAY NEWS HIT - Whatever a fourth surge of COVID-19 might look like in Michigan is beginning to come into focus as the number of positive cases rose to levels not seen since the surprise April wave when more than 4,000 people were hospitalized with the virus.
So far, only 1,300 people are hospitalized - a figure that is dwarfed by previous infection peaks in the past year and a half. But according to Brian Peters, the CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, fewer health care workers are around to help those patients.
"Our staffing is stressed to a level that we have not seen previously," Peters said. "One of the ways to prevent that is to get the vaccine. There's just no question."
Nurses and doctors are burned out after struggling through a trauma-filled 2020 and 2021. Whereas the suffering was new and uncertain last year, it has taken on a more frustrating vantage due to the wide accessibility and scientific consensus that vaccines that could keep people from dying are widely available.
Yet only 59% of the state's population over the age of 12 is vaccinated. That figure is trailing the national average of 62%.
Physicians said there is a new dimension of stress, sadness, and fatigue on the front lines, as people die after refusing vaccines that work.
"I would not want to say at this point we're entering a fourth surge in Michigan or in this region of Michigan, but I'm very concerned that we are," said Barbara Ducatman, the chief medical executive at Beaumont Health. "And our hospitals are very full. We have a lot of ill patients so vaccination is the best way to keep yourself and your children safe."
Whether unvaccinated people are ready or not, the option of remaining unprotected against the virus may fast disappearing, following a new executive order from President Joe Biden.
A new vaccine mandate Thursday will require businesses with 100 employees or more to require the vaccine. The federal government will also require the vaccine, as well as most contractors that work with the government.
Business leaders joined in the vaccination push. Vaccines, they said, can keep schools and child care centers open, protect employees on the job, give comfort to customers and prevent government-ordered capacity restrictions.
A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her office was reviewing the president's plan. She previously said she did not plan to issue "broad" masking or vaccine requirements.
Biden's new order may not take effect before Michigan's fourth surge peaks. And it could get worse before it gets better as students head back to the classroom. And not every district is requiring masks.
Parents to 7 kids die of COVID-19 within hours of each other
No one expected Troy and Charletta Green's love story - a marriage that lasted 22 years - to end so tragically. They had met when they were 14 years old. He was a deacon at his church. She and some of their seven children would sing in the choir. But both parents were thousands of miles apart when they died within hours of each other.
Tiki Green, Tory's sister says it started in mid-August with a planned trip to Florida. Troy stayed behind, not feeling well. Charletta left with the kids, but was hospitalized two days after arriving. Both had COVID-19. They spent their anniversary in the ICU on ventilators.
Troy began to improve, but Charletta's condition worsened. "Her lungs were severely damaged and they couldn't do any more for her," Green said. When Troy learned of his wife's death, he couldn't take that and had a heart attack. Their deaths have sent their tight-knit family into a tailspin.
"We just always knew they were coming home," Green said. "So for neither of them to come home, words can’t explain how we feel right now." Neither had gotten the vaccine before they died. Green hopes their story can convince any others who hadn't gotten the shot to reconsider.
Woman alleges sexual assault at Detroit Medical Center
Karen Ellis was on medication after surgery when she was sexually assaulted at the Detroit Medical Center. Confined to a bed and too weak to move, she said she was barely conscious when an employee who was delivering her dinner groped her and took off her clothes.
"He said, 'It's okay, I am not going to hurt you, I just want to touch you, I just want to see your body,'" she recalled. "I was like, no. I was laying on my left side He went on to the right side and he removed my gown and started fondling with my private area, and my behind, and my breasts."
After the incident, she mustered the strength to report the assault to her nurse, who passed it on to her supervisor. The police were called and Ellis was transferred to another room. The employee later came to her room and denied it happened. "I was confused. I know what happened and I know who did it to me," she said.
And so do the police. We're told detectives with Detroit police sex crimes have investigated the claims, handing over the case and a warrant request to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. The suspect has also been fired from the DMC.
UIA head defends agency's work during comittee meeting
Republicans in the Michigan House Oversight committee criticized the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency acting director on Thursday, asking her to address how the agency has failed residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mass unemployment spread nationally during the pandemic and in Michigan the state unemployment agency has paid out $38 billion dollars to 2.4 million Michigan workers since the beginning of the pandemic, according to acting director Liza Estlund Olson.
Committee Chair Rep. Steve Johnson, citing what he’s heard from his constituents, went back and forth with Estlund Olson throughout the meeting to ask her to address what he calls "failures" by the agency. They include slow payment of benefits and the nearly 700,000 residents who received notifications that they may have to repay their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from the past 18 months.
The U.S. Department of Labor required state unemployment agencies to end $300 a week federal payments for those who qualified under four now ineligible reasons and for them to reapply for eligibility, Estlund Olson said. They do not need to repay those benefits if claimants used one of the four now ineligible options for qualifications, a concern members of the committee expressed.
– Courtesy of the Associated Press
Why the mosquitos have been so bad this year
It's not just you - mosquitoes really are much worse this year. While the 2021 summer has been much wetter than usual, that's only part of the problem. As it turns out, we're seeing more mosquitos this year than we see in most years.
Mark VanderWerp of Rose Pest Solutions confirms what we've all been saying at backyard BBQs this year: the mosquitos really are worse than usual. But he can actually explain why.
"We suffered multiple years of gobs of eggs all at once," VanderWerp said. "You had this mass of eggs, (it) may have been a couple of years worth, of mosquito eggs that hatched at once."
That's right. In one summer, we have been around as several years' worth of mosquitos have hatched. And the answer actually does have something to do with the rain. "The simple answer is there are different kinds of mosquitos and some mosquitos really hatch out big time when you get a lot of rain, and we call those the summer floodwater mosquitos," VanderWerp said.
What else we're watching
- A new bridge was installed at a northern Michigan waterfall location this week. Crews used help from a helicopter to place four sections of the bridge near Tahquamenon Falls. See how they did it here.
- A woman in her late 30s has died after being shot on Detroit's west side. Two injured men were also discovered at the scene and one was arrested. Police aren't sure what happened but said it could be a domestic incident.
- Flat Rock residents affected by the gas leak from the nearby Ford plant can pickup gift cards offered by the city at the high school Friday and Saturday.
- Southfield police are looking for a man involved in an armed robbery attempt Thursday morning when a homeowner came home and was approached by the suspect who demanded money. The homeowner eventually was able to retrieve his handgun and fire several rounds at the suspect, who fled.
- Two pilots are attempting to land their plane in a record-setting 48 states in 48 hours. Pilots. Kirk Schutter and Kirk McCardell will do it in honor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They'll be landing in Detroit sometime between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
Live on FOX 2
The cool week will be coming to an end Friday after another mild day with temperatures in the 70s. It's expected to heat up Saturday and Sunday with temperatures climbing into the 80s. Windy conditions will also sweep through along with a possible shower on Sunday.
US records hottest summer since the Dust Bowl, NOAA says
The United States has recorded its hottest summer on record this year narrowly surpassing the previous record set in 1936 during the Dust Bowl, according to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"Summer 2021 neck and neck with 1936 Dust Bowl summer for hottest on record in the U.S. Multiple deadly weather and climate disasters also struck the nation in August," the NOAA tweeted on Thursday.
According to the NOAA, the average temperature this summer for the contiguous U.S. was 74 degrees Fahrenheit which NOAA says is 2.6 degrees above average.