Will Michigan reopen next week, Oakland County sends $10M to restaurants, crews battle fire at Toledo Marina

What is the likelihood that Michigan's three-week restrictions get extended a fourth or fifth week? "Sadly possible."

That's about as much clarity as anyone is going to get from the governor. With only five days left of the state's pause in some business and school lockdown measures, COVID-19's status is leveling out says Gretchen Whitmer, which is a sign of improvement from the exponential growth spotted at the end of November.

"If we have to make extensions of the current pause in some realms - and that is sadly possible because of the sheer volume of COVID," Whitmer said. "The early numbers look as though we're seeing a little bit of leveling, that's a good thing, we were on this very dramatic upward."

A look at November's average daily case rates from the beginning of the month shows just what "dramatic upward" trends can look like. From Nov. 2-9, the average case rate was 4,559 cases. From Nov. 10-16, the average was 6,732.

November also totaled Michigan's biggest single-day increase for daily COVID-19 cases and some of its deadliest. 

A new survey from researchers may explain why. Social distancing has decreased dramatically since the spring as people have begun ignoring some of the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other local health leaders. 

Almost 140,000 people across 50 states who were polled between April and November showed a big reduction in those choosing to stay home. For example, the percentage of people saying they have been in a room with people who are not members of their own household in the preceding 24 hours jumped from 26% in April to 45% in October.

And any infections may have led to more exposure among families and friends when Thanksgiving break rolled around. 

Now, the Christmas holiday looms large as Michigan and other battered states struggle to make it through the year without overloading hospitals. Currently, 80% of ICU beds in Michigan are filled with some hospitals already at capacity. Warnings from health executives in November concerned a scenario where the holiday season increased small gatherings which in turn drove up the number of infections.

So where does Michigan stand now? A graph showing daily case rates could best be described as a roller coaster with slightly lower peaks and deeper valleys each week. 

Last Friday, 8,581 people tested positive. This Monday, 5,214 people tested positive. On Thursday, the number rose back up to 7,146. 

The number of new cases reported over the weekend just might determine what happens next.

Oakland County sends $10 Million in aid to businesses

Embroiled in the state's second surge of new coronavirus cases, Oakland County is moving millions of dollars to help buoy businesses struggling to stay above financially.

About $7 million will come from the county's CARES Act fund that was shored up earlier in the year and another $3 million will come from the county's General Fund to help the businesses establish outdoor dining services.

The funds couldn't have come any sooner for restaurants like Beans and Cornbread in Southfield.

"Our revenue is down about 60 percent," said owner Patrick Coleman, who expects to be one of the recipients. "It’s nice that we can continue to keep people employed - first and foremost, we are a jobs provider."

Restaurants will be digging themselves out of the financial hole coronavirus restrictions have put them in for years. And new rules keeping indoor dining closed until at least Dec. 8 will likely exasperate the problem for some.

"Right now our restaurants and bars in particular because of the latest restrictions from the state, they’re struggling more than ever," said Oakland County Executive David Coulter. "They were barely hanging on. And frankly, I’m worried that some of them aren’t going to make it."

So far, 2,000 restaurants have already closed their doors permanently in Michigan and the restaurant association says another 6,000 will shut down by spring if closures and no stimulus arrives.

New report shows Michigan closing racial disparity gap

An interim report from the state's task force on racial disparities showed promising results in efforts to reduce inequality around Michigan.

After COVID-19 tore through Black-majority cities at a faster rate than non-Black majority cities, resulting in more severe symptoms and a higher death rate, Michigan's Lt. Governor was tasked with reducing those disparities.

During a press conference on Thursday, top government officials showed where some of the progress has been.

“Today’s report shows that significant progress has been made toward our goal to reduce these disparities over the past six months," said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. "But as cases continue to rise, we need to recognize that our work is not done because each of us have a role to play to make sure that we defeat this virus,"

From March and April, the average cases per million among Black Michigan residents was 176. In September and October, it fell to 59. During those same periods, the number of Black Michigan residents dying fell from 21.7 per million per day to one.

Barricaded gunman peacefully surrenders late Thursday

Detroit police spent several hours in a standoff Thursday night with a 24-year-old who had fired shots at a 19-year-old woman and her sister.

The scene happened in the 9000 block of Coyle Street, north of Joy Road on the city's northwest side. Police had asked residents in the area to remain in their homes as they tried to get the gunman to come out.

He eventually surrendered around 10:30 p.m.

"The suspect has criminal convictions in his past but nothing of violence," said Cmdr. Darin Szilagy. "We briefly spoke with the suspect earlier in the night and the phone went dead."

The suspect allegedly fired at the two women after they went to his house to collect money for child support around 3 p.m. Neither of the victims was injured.

Crews battle massive fire in Toledo Marina

Fire crews are currently trying to get a large fire at a Toledo Marina south of Monroe County under control.

Reports show the fire has been burning for several hours.

It's unclear if there have been any injuries.

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Daily Forecast

Friday will bring a chance of flurries and a high of 42 before the weekend cools down. Next week will see similar fluctuations.

Survey: Widespread decline in social distancing preceded COVID-19 surge in US

Social distancing has decreased dramatically since the spring, and the states that largely haven’t adhered to staying six feet apart and wearing masks are being hit the hardest by COVID-19 surges, according to a large survey.

Researchers polled 139,230 individuals across all 50 states between April and November 2020 and found a general decline in social distancing over the summer and into the fall.

For example, the percentage of people saying they have been in a room with people who are not members of their own household in the preceding 24 hours jumped from 26% in April to 45% in October.

Large group activities have particularly jumped in frequency. Reports of people being in groups of 11 to 100 or more in the preceding 24 hours more than doubled, from 2.4% of respondents in April to 6.4% in October.

The findings also suggested that states that had the lowest levels of social distancing behavior and mask-wearing are currently suffering the worst outbreaks.