The hot potato issue of masks, how an F-150 saved a wedding, Rick Wershe on his upcoming TV show portrayal

Governor Gretchen Whitmer's chief medical advisor said Wednesday that if masks were mandated in schools, then "it would likely decrease the spread of COVID-19 in schools."

But no mask mandate has been ordered and school districts instead have been left to decide what they think is the best court of action. The effects of not having a blanket mandate for face coverings could spell problems for children that go to school.

Any child under 12 cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine, but can still catch it. Upon infection, children can experience side effects from the virus that can stick around for months and develop into more severe symptoms like inflammation in the organs.

"I have recommended that if a mask mandate were in place, and it were to be followed, it would likely decrease the spread of Covid -19 in schools," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun during a Wednesday Zoom call with reporters.

Mask mandates have become the hot potato issue of the summer. Do districts mandate them? Some, like in Ann Arbor and Detroit, plan to enforce mask restrictions during the school year. But some districts like Utica won't enforce mask measures. 

Health officials have become increasingly adamant about their effectiveness in curbing the spread of the virus. But some politicians, like state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, have dismissed mandates as the "dumbest thing to do."

A study about masking in schools found that if one infected child was in a classroom with 25 students where no mask policy was in effect, the odds of anyone getting infected are 50/50 after three hours. With imperfect masking policy, that length of time rises to 24 hours. With a full mask rule, it's 120 hours.

Children can also suffer from long Covid symptoms and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, which can weaken a child's immune system to the point where they can no longer accept the vaccine. 

States are beginning to see more pediatric cases in places where the Delta variant is sweeping through hospitals. Unvaccinated people make up the vast majority of those patients. 

But it's in board meetings and over zoom calls where parents and school administrators have traded barbs amid rising tensions about mask policy in a school district.

Schools start class in the next couple of weeks, which means it won't be too long before the difference in mask rules could start to ripple through districts. 

How an F-150 saved a wedding

A Farmington Hills couple picked a bad weekend to get married. Or rather, the weather picked a bad weekend to turn severe. Outages from last week knocked out power and left dozens of wedding visitors in the dark at a Farmington Hills reception. But thanks to two Ford Motor Co. engineers and the onboard generator in their hybrid F-150s, they kept the lights on.

"So I kind of knew what it does on paper but, it’s one thing to know what it does on paper and Powerpoints, it’s another thing to use it in the field and see that response from people," Harish Thiruvengadam. The truck's onboard generator has shined amid the darkness of ever-increasing severe and erratic weather, restoring power to people who were stuck freezing in Texas earlier this year. 

But it's also a sign of the need for backup energy sources. Alternative energy options are increasingly being needed as traditional forms of power become less reliable. Residents around Metro Detroit have suffered through several bouts of power outages from strained DTE infrastructure that can't withstand heavier storms and wind gusts. The company has promised more than a billion dollars in upgrades this year. 

That's why renewable and alternative energy is a growing focus among Detroit and Highland Park residents. A non-profit Soulardarity, which is based out of Highland Park, has been helping finance solar power for homes and small businesses. But these expenses still remain out of reach for low-wealth and communities of color. 

Metroparks offering free admission next 3 weekends

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks will be accessible by anyone without paying for the next three weekends - which includes Labor Day weekend. 

The entire park system encompasses 13 different parks around Metro Detroit and typically requires either a day pass or a recreational passport. But with the summer rounding the end, a spokesperson for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks says they want people to enjoy the last bits at its parks. 

The park system spans nearly 25,000 acres around Southeast Michigan in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties. Here is a breakdown of when things will be free to enter:

  • Friday, Aug. 20 – Sunday, Aug. 22
  • Friday, Aug. 27 – Sunday, Aug. 29
  • Friday, Sept. 3 – Monday, Sept. 6 (Labor Day)

Rick Wershe has some thoughts on his upcoming TV portrayal

"If anyone can play me, I'm glad it's him - a homeboy so to speak - a Detroit legend," said Rick Wershe. Part of Wershe's life is set to be portrayed in an upcoming TV series dubbed BMF, a drama inspired by two real-life Detroit brothers: Demetrius "Big Meech" and Terry Flenory, who helped create one of the biggest drug rings in the country.

But it's Eminem that will be playing Wershe in the series, which is being produced by 50 Cent and air on Starz. It will follow the humble and tough beginnings of the brothers on the city's southwest side, as well as the rise and fall of the Black Mafia Family.

Wershe Jr. was recruited by law enforcement to serve as an informant for drug and violent crimes in Detroit while he was a teen. He would end up spending 30 years in prison for drug charges. Since his release, he's enjoyed his freedom but also sought damages in the form of a $100 million lawsuit against police for the position they put him in.

Similar to Wershe, Demetrius Flenory has spent years in prison for drug crimes. But the way Wershe sees it, "Meech had changed his life. He was an influence in the music industry,. He was doing good things. He was raising awareness. He was helping his community. for anyone to think he deserves 30 years, I just have a problem with that person."

Man with former murder conviction charged with killing again

About 183 days after 20-year-old Brandy Nelson was last seen, the man she was living with - and father of her child - has been charged with her murder. Juma Reeves appeared in court from jail, entering a not guilty plea in connection with the death of Nelson. The 46-year-old is charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, dating back to her disappearance.

She was last seen on Drexel Street near Chandler Park on Detroit’s east side. "This is a long investigator's report, just give me a moment," the judge said Wednesday. Brandy Nelson was reported missing on February 16th.  Two weeks later during a search party organized by her cousin, her body was found in a garage next door to where she and Reeves were living.

The cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma. She was found on March 2. It would be months before the suspect would be captured. The house where they once lived along with their baby girl is now boarded up and for sale. But a neighbor said the suspect was at the house just last month - she called the police but he left before they arrived.

Reeves was arrested earlier this week and was in front of a judge virtually Wednesday. He was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and tampering with evidence. 

What else we're watching

  1. Federal prosecutors are recommending a nine-year prison sentence for Ty Garbin, the one defendant in the Whitmer kidnapping case to plead guilty to conspiracy. Five other men have pleaded not guilty. 
  2. Dearborn Heights is continuing to purchase homes located in flood zones so it can be used as green space to reduce future severe weather. The mayor said it plans to demolish another four homes in the Ecorse Creek flood zone. 
  3. Another suspect from Michigan linked to the Capital riot has been arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer. Logan Barnhart of Lansing was hit with a slew of charges Tuesday, including using a baton, a flag pole, and a crutch to hit an officer. 
  4. Tickets are still on sale for the Woodward Dream Show this weekend. The two-day event will go Friday and Saturday and feature live entertainment and the M1 Concourse Insiders' Garage
  5. The city of Detroit's inclusion department is continuing its Freedom Summer 2021 series with a rescheduled event at the Spirit Plaza from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

It's going to be another hot one Thursday as warmup ahead of the weekend starts to turn up. Residents can expect hot summer temperatures until at least mid-week next week. 

R. Kelly described as "predator" in opening statements of sex trafficking trial

A prosecutor described sex abuse claims against R&B star R. Kelly Wednesday, saying the long-anticipated trial now underway was "about a predator" who used his fame to entice girls, boys and young women before dominating and controlling them physically, sexually and psychologically.

"This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot," Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the Brooklyn jury as she explained the evidence to be revealed at his federal trial.

"This case is about a predator," she said.

She said he invited children and women to join him after shows by distributing backstage passes. The prosecutor said Kelly would often record sex acts with minors as he controlled a racketeering enterprise of individuals who were loyal and devoted to him, eager to "fulfill each and everyone one of the defendant’s wishes and demands."