Whitmer, GOP feud escalates, man dies after botched colonoscopy procedure, State police sued over breathalyzer

The state GOP is making several competing moves against the governor as it seeks to gain leverage in Lansing as the lawmakers and Gretchen Whitmer look forward to another contentious year of politics at the Michigan capital.

The same day that Whitmer was scheduled to deliver her annual address that provides an assessment of the state, Republicans unrolled a competing Covid recovery plan, introduced a resolution advocating for the reopening of contact high school sports, and blocked 13 of her appointments to a variety of boards.

Republican leadership is also expected to deliver a rebuttal to her State of the State address at 11 a.m. today - which you can watch onsite and on Facebook today.

Embedded in the Republicans COVID-19 Recovery plan is a contingency that forces Whitmer to relinquish authority over canceling and restarting in-person learning. The GOP's plan advocates for letting local health departments and districts making the decision instead of the executive branch. If the request isn't accepted, then already approved federal funds equaling $2.1 billion for education would be blocked.

Then, later on Wednesday, state Sen. Dale Zorn introduced a resolution that called on the state to 'Let them play' as frustration from some parents over a continued ban on contact winter sports in high schools.

Whitmer has given the green light to many industries but maintained a suspension on sports because of the threat of a more contagious strain from the UK and a more deadly strain from Brazil, both that have been discovered in the U.S. recently. The UK strain has been identified in 17 people in Michigan and forced Washtenaw County to administer a stay home order for students on the University of Michigan's campus.

Wednesday afternoon, the state Senate rejected 13 appointments to a number of different advisory boards in the state. The vote, 19-14, was delivered along party lines. The mass reason for the rejection by Republicans wasn't entirely clear. One senator did indicate frustration over vetoes and the shut down of the government.

"We will use the tools that we have without explanation," said state Sen. Ken Horn, a Republican from Frankenmuth.

Whitmer tacitly acknowledged the competing party during her State of the State address, offering an olive branch and hope to meet in the middle as the state. But in a conversation with media Thursday, she described the moves by the party as "cruel and reckless."

Southfield man died during colonoscopy after hospital outsourced anesthesiology service

A Jan. 21st procedure for a colonoscopy took a turn for the worst after a Southfield man who had been intubated for the checkup stopped breathing after the tube was removed and died, a report found.

Beaumont hospital where the procedure took place had recently outsourced their anesthesiologist service to a group called NorthStar. A doctor who has practiced anesthesiology for more than 30 years says it's unusual to intubate a patient during a screening like this. "Usually, these procedures are just done under sedation under an IV."

Dr. Karen Sibert, the former president of the California Society of Anesthesiologists said they would classify a death during the procedure as a "never event."

Beaumont says it has launched an "in-depth, clinical and objective peer review process" of what happened. NorthStar called assertions in part of the report "false" and outlined its history of providing anesthesia services in Detroit and called its hirees "highly qualified, highly skilled."

Federal lawsuit filed against state police over malfunctioning breathalyzer

State police have been accused of convicting a man for a drunk driving offense with evidence of a malfunctioning breathalyzer that revealed a BAC level of .13 - well above the limit for legally operating a machine.

However, Kerry Miller says he only had two beers. Instead, according to his attorney Jonathan Marko, "he knew he was innocent and was telling people he was innocent but no one would listen - so he was branded a liar."

Miller was put on probation for 18 months, had to go to counseling and AA meetings four times a week. He also had expensive court fines and 240 hours of community service.

Miller's conviction was overturned after state police notified a prosecutor. However, Marko claims police were aware of serious problems with the breathalyzers and didn't address the problems.  

Gov. Whitmer urges state to "fix the damn road ahead" in address

Michigan's governor gave her third State of the State address Wednesday night, hosted virtually and without all the pomp and circumstance that typically accompanies an annual speech. It lasted all of 30 minutes.

In the speech, she pressed for unity, extended an olive branch to her critics, and modified her original slogan to "fix the damn roads ahead" as Michigan faces down a significant year amid the pandemic. 

Both Whitmer and the state GOP have released competing recovery bills that send funds to the same services, but with a $2 billion difference on the price tag. The Republican offer also comes with threats to hold funding for education if the governor doesn't relinquish her power over in-person school suspensions.

"We are now in the second wave of distributing safe, effective vaccines," she said. "We have distributed 800,000 vaccines which makes us 6th in the nation. We don't have the supply we need yet, but we will. Every Michigander who wants a vaccine will get one."

Michigan State Police halt kidnapping in progress

Michigan State Police stopped a reported kidnapping on the highway Wednesday afternoon after a woman and two kids were forced into a sedan.

During a traffic stop on I-94, state police pulled a 28-year-old suspect to a stop after a low-speed chase on the highway. It began at 2:15 p.m. when a woman called that they were both being held against their will. 

The car was originally spotted near I-96 and Grand River. Minutes later, a man from Canton gave up and was arrested. The woman and children were not hurt.

The man said he's the father of the kids and also wanted on an aggravated assault charge and domestic violence in Oakland County.

Other things of note

  1. Buried beneath all the news Thursday was a pretty remarkable figure on the COVID-19 front. The state reported only 6 deaths related to the virus. You'd have to go back to the beginning of October to get a statistic that low.
  2. Make sure to tune in to the Republican's State of the State response at 11 a.m. today.
  3. Detroit is getting a Crème Brûlée salon inside the city's Milwaukee Junction neighborhood. The multi-cultural salon is described as a "place of sanity and serenity."

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Daily Forecast

Buckle down for another cold one Thursday with a high of 23 and a low of 11 degrees later tonight. Some sun is expected in the late morning.

Double mask: Fauci says wearing 2 masks may offer more protection from COVID-19

The science on masks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic has rapidly evolved, and researchers have continued to surface more and more evidence proving their effectiveness. Now, some medical experts are saying two masks are even better than one. 

On Monday, in an interview with the TODAY show, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said, "If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective."

"That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95," he added. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t explicitly state that people should double up on facial coverings, but the health agency says multi-layer cloth masks can block up to 70% of respiratory droplets that can carry the deadly virus.