By most metrics, Michigan’s low COVID-19 rate is evidence the pandemic’s spread has been stunted. But it took just eight days in an East Lansing bar to wash away all feelings of encouragement for Michigan’s governor. After reports of 22 new cases in Ingham County linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, one of several eateries neat Michigan State Campus, Gretchen Whitmer said she’s delayed moving the state into phase 5 of reopening.
“Right now, the numbers in most parts of the state have continued to look strong. There are a few blips that we are keeping our eye very close on. My hope was to move the rest of the state into phase 5 by the 4th of July – my hope was to do it this week. We’re not going to do it this week,” Whitmer told FOX 2’s Tim Skubick on Tuesday.
The news is a disappointing development for residents eager to get back to normal amid the pandemic. But it also represents a new precarious stage of Michigan’s fight against the coronavirus and likely a window into what the state can expect for the next few months. The balancing act the Whitmer Administration is performing requires an easing of restrictions on businesses while still maintaining the same emphasis on social distancing and reducing transmission.
If recent history can serve as any guide, it won’t be easy to do forever. Following a combustible April and May, when Michigan’s infection rate was among the highest in the country and its lockdown among the strictest – mass protests ensued in Lansing and multiple lawsuits alleging constitutional overreach were filed against the governor.
However, Michigan’s outlook on COVID-19’s future is among the best in the country. It’s one of two states expected to contain the virus, which is a far cry from the 27 other states seeing increasing infection rates. In Texas, it’s daily infection rate has more than doubled in the last week, prompting its governor to ask residents to stay in their homes. After a lull in new cases in Florida when fewer than 1,000 new tests came back positive a day, more than 4,000 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported on June 20. In Arizona, which is home to some of the worst outbreaks in any state, it reached its highest levels yet.
In many ways, half of the country is getting a peek into what bulldozered through Michigan in early April when the state’s infection rate peaked and hospitalizations almost reached capacity. The vastly different timelines for coronavirus spread reveals the patchwork of solutions the country has adopted in fighting the virus.
Michigan’s gradual crawl from out of its homes likely won’t continue on the 4th of July, the original date when Whitmer said Michigan could shift to phase 5. At that point, movie theaters, indoor gyms, personal services, and overnight camps would be allowed to restart.
Whitmer did not specify when she would take the next step.
Another violent night in Detroit
After having their hands full over the weekend, Detroit Police officers had another busy Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Police responded to five separate shootings throughout the city. They include:
- Double shooting reported 17000 Block of Longview, where 15 markers for evidence were spotted and cops took a shotgun from a home
- A shooting possibly involving a 17-year-old on Runyon Street
- Non-fatal shooting on Chester Street around 11 p.m. The victim’s last known condition was critical
- Shooting at 767 Navahoe Street where the victim believed to be a female was transported to a hospital and their condition is unknown
- A shooting on Conner Street
Over the weekend, Detroit Police responded to 18 shootings involving 25 people, which resulted in at least four killed. Among the cases was a random shooting on Plainview that involved two children and their father. All three were taken to the hospital, where the 37-year-old man was listed in critical condition. The kids were doing better.
So what’s driving the rise in violent crime, which DPD Chief James Craig labeled as a 7.5% uptick from last year? He partly blames cabin fever.
“We predicted early on and this was certainly pre-Floyd that because of COVID and the stay at homes, there would be tremendous tension, tremendous stress, and what we’re seeing manifesting is these argument-based senseless shootings,” said Craig.
Ironically, it’s property crimes that are more than 16% down, despite the blooming protests dotted around the city over the last few weeks.
Shelby Township under more fire for trustee’s online comments
Racial unrest stemming from the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has also managed to ripple through society with ease – reaching as far as the brand and bottle of one of America’s most famous syrup brands – ‘Aunt Jemima.’ Last week, the company that owns the brand said it would be retiring it due to racist backstory.
At least one individual is unhappy about the decision: Shelby Township Trustee John Vermeulen who posted a photo on Facebook of ‘Aunt Jemima’ and the Quaker Oats man in bed with the caption “Can’t we just all get along.”
“It seems pretty inappropriate,” said Dan, a resident. “I think he can put whatever he wants on his social media.”
“Why would he put that on there if he wanted to run for office,” said resident Susan Harp.
Fresh off of a scandal involving the township’s police chief who posted racist comments about protesters, public officials are now fielding more backlash from one of its representatives.
“He’s probably even more angry now that he was called out about it. So what is his disposition toward people of color are going to be now, I think it’s going to be worse,” she Tammie Hawkes, who has lived there for 10 years.
Vermeulen, who voted to keep their police chief, could not be reached for comment at the time the story aired.
Less rain and temperatures lingering in the 70’s for the remainder of the week.
Baseball’s back: MLB sets 60-game season, opens July 23 or 24
Major League Baseball issued a 60-game schedule Tuesday night that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony.
Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games vs. each of the five clubs in the corresponding division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.
A team is scheduled to make only one trip to each city it visits in MLB’s shortest season since 1878.
In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games involving National League teams and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.