Why one Metro Detroit teen is getting the vaccine, shoddy mail service, and near-record warmth

Caleb Knuth is in high school. He gets wanting to be back in school and return to sports. A more active social life would be nice as well. 

As do much of the state's teenagers, exhausted from spending the end of a second school year in the middle of a public health crisis they never signed up for. 

The best way to get back to the hobbies and activities that kids first signed up for before they ever knew the word coronavirus is with a vaccine, he says.

"It is important as a whole because if everybody gets it, if we are safe and vaccinated, we will be able to can keep moving forward and not moving back at the rate we are," said the 16-year-old.

Knuth is nervous about getting his first shot. It's an unfamiliar world and he'd be one of the youngest in the state to receive it. Only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for teens his age. "I wasn't on board at first."

But the Detroit Jesuit High School sophomore got educated by his parents. And now, he's serving as one of the state's seven Metro Detroit teens chosen to get a shot from the state's chief health executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. And he'll be getting it next to the governor.

"(I will) Tell people to get it if they can, tell them why it is important, the benefits to getting their life back and as a community, push us all forward," he said.

There's a lot of benefits to getting his life back. Knuth wants to study international business at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He wants to be back in the classroom full-time. He was recently recruited to play lacrosse for the U.S. Premier League. He also plays football for the Michigan Elite. 

"Personally I am an athlete, so I want to be able to play my sport and be able to play that sport without any interruption," he said. "I am going to have to convince them to take the vaccine. We all want to get back in the world we need it to get back out there."

Knuth will get his first poke today at 10:30 a.m. at Ford Field.

The Detroit west side's hit or mill US mail service

Residents in west Detroit say the lagging U.S. mail service has made it difficult for anyone to be sure their letters or packages are going to make it to the proper address. "It's terrible how they're doing us," said Martina Johnson.

"We haven't got our mail in two weeks," said Johnson, who characterized the service as hit or miss.

That's the experience of many residents who live in the area. One employee at the post office on Joy Road who wished to remain anonymous said a lack of staffing has exasperated the department. 

"Primarily the biggest cause of everything is being shorthanded, and the second biggest cause that angers customers is you have supervisors and other administrative people scanning packages that they were taking to somebody’s porch. And we left a note on their door when we didn’t. We didn’t do it."

Detroit mechanic jailed for death threats toward police

Those who know Bernard Smith say he was just protecting his business. But Detroit police didn't see it that way and subsequently arrested the neighborhood mechanic after he allegedly made death threats toward the officers.

DPD was originally dispatched to Pingree Street Friday afternoon due to an excess of cars parked in a lot illegally. One customer estimates there were 17 vehicles in the area. When police arrived, both law enforcement and witnesses say he took issue with their presence.

"He just was ranting," Kelsey Maddox said. "He’s an older guy, ranting, expressing himself and they labeled him a terrorist and dragged him out of here."

However, the prosecutor says Smith was in the street with police arrived and was ordered back into the house. Instead, he allegedly made death threats and was placed under arrest. Offices also found guns and ammunition inside his home. 

Woman received outdated diagnosis based on sexuality

A woman going in for a routine checkup received a very non-routine diagnosis from her Troy doctor when she saw her chart describing her with a psychiatry term that associates mental illness with being a lesbian.

"I went to my chart and I looked at my last year's results and saw I was diagnosed with ego-dystonic lesbianism," Tatiana Arena-Villareal said. "It's a discriminatory diagnosis, and that was deemed over 30 years ago."

It had been removed from the medical field in the late 1980s. But there it was on Arena-Villareal's MyChart at Beaumont. She said it means "either I think I'm straight and I'm trying to be a lesbian or the opposite."

Follow-up calls from FOX 2 eventually led to doctors at the hospital contacting Arena-Villareal to apologize. But their conversation left her feeling like the doctor's diagnosis was no mistake.

What's behind Michigan's COVID-19 case rates?

As of this week, the number of coronavirus-infected Michigan residents is at 453 people out of 100,000 - about 100 people higher than the state with the second-highest rate. How did Michigan land itself in the middle of one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 the country has seen?

The wave started spreading among teenagers, said MDHHS Senior Public Health Physician Natasha Bagdasarian said. But now it's reaching people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. The introduction of new variants has led to at least 1,500 B.1.1.7 cases. Other strains that have since been detected could make it worse.

And it could get even worse as the medical community braces for a post-spring break surge, specifically from people coming home from Florida. A travel agent says he's been swamped with requests for going to the Sunshine State.

But both he and doctors say that a cavalier vacation mindset is likely to exasperate the spread in the coming weeks. 

Neighborhood Vaccine week starts April 12 in Detroit

There are few cities with as accessible a supply of vaccines as Detroit. But even that isn't enough to keep pace with the rest of the state in boosting immunity from COVID-19. 

Just over 20% of the city has gotten covered by a vaccine, well behind the surrounding counties and state average. Historic inequities and racism in public health haven't helped either. That's why the city of Detroit is bringing the shots to the neighborhoods. Beginning next week, there will be two vaccine sites operating each day around the city. 

Each city council district will host at least one site next week. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also be available. The eight new sites will be open in addition to the TCF Center, Ford Field, the community Saturday efforts, and the mobile option.

Appointments for all locations can be made at 313-230-0505. See a complete list of available times and locations here.

What else we're watching

  1. The city of Inkster is pushing to get the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame Foundation to call it home. Currently, the foundation has several significant inductees, but no place to celebrate them.
  2. Yesterday, Michigan reported 10,293 cases over the weekend. Weekend days report fewer cases per day, but also combine them. The best conclusion to draw from that amount is that COVID-19 is far higher than the state would want. 
  3. A car drove into the American International Academy school in Inkster, knocking out a large hole in the side. There was no disruption to class due to the student's remote schooling.
  4. Dearborn Schools are moving online for the rest of the week as a precaution ahead of rising Covid cases. 
  5. I-69 in St. Clair County will be repaired with a $38 million investment as part of the governor's Rebuilding Michigan program. The project will rebuild nearly six miles of the highway from Miller Road to M-19, and M-19 from I-69 to Burt Road. Expect single-lane closures and traffic shifts.

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

It's going to be a near-record warmth kind of day as temperatures are expected to spike to almost 80 degrees today. More of the same is expected tomorrow as well.

New vaccine could revolutionize fight against COVID-19

A new vaccine called NDV-HXP-S, a name derived from "Newcastle Disease Virus HexaPro Spike," could revolutionize the fight against COVID-19.

The vaccine has been tested in animals. Now, human trials are underway in Vietnam and Thailand. A clinical study will take place in Brazil.

The vaccine uses the HexaPro spike protein, developed by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin. 

"The second-generation spike was re-engineered here at UT Austin to be even more stable, and even easier to manufacture. We probably got 10 to 30 fold improvement in manufacturing," said Dr. Ilya Finkelstein, an associate professor of molecular biosciences at UT, who helped create HexaPro.