Michigan Bars Closed for Indoor Service, Restaurants Now Allowed to Deliver Alcohol

Michigan restaurants and bars will now be allowed to sell to-go alcoholic beverages, thanks to a new package of bills signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday.

Bars and restaurants will now be able to sell drinks to-go, as well as deliver them, until December 31, 2025. Whitmer’s office said the bills are aimed at providing relief for restaurants and bars impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according WXYZ.

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Michigan Publishes Reopening Guidance for Schools, Allocates $256M

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a set of health and safety guidelines on Tuesday for schools returning to in-person classrooms among the pandemic.

The “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap” outlines safety protocols for schools in each stage or reopening and includes information on the proper use of personal protection equipment, disinfecting, spacing in classrooms and identifying symptoms, among other things. Guidance is distinguished by phases and includes both required and recommended protocols.

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Whitmer Proposes Police Reform Policies, Including Chokehold Ban, Duty to Intervene Policies

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a proposal for additional police reform policies on Monday after nearly a month of protests against police brutality and racial inequality across the nation.

The four-pronged plan features policies such as a ban on chokeholds, retention of disciplinary records and a requirement of “duty to intervene” policies.

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Ypsilanti Mayor Resigns After Controversial Comment During Council Meeting

Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert resigned on Tuesday after receiving criticism for controversial remarks about a Black city official during a virtual council meeting.

During a Zoom meeting on June 16, Bashert said that she would be “crucified” for not voting to reappoint city human relations commissioner Ka’Ron Gaines.

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Judge Declines to Pause Order Reopening Gyms, Despite Whitmer Request

A federal judge refused on Monday to pause an order to reopen indoor gyms in Michigan, despite Gov. Gretchen Whiter filing an appeal in a higher court.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney ruled on Friday that indoor gyms could reopen on June 25. Gyms are not explicitly permitted in the MI Safe Start plan, which denotes when certain industries can reopen in Michigan. Maloney said in his opinion that gyms would be held to the same standard as other workplaces.

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Enbridge Continues to Run Line 5, Despite Whitmer’s Concerns About Damage

Enbridge Inc. rebuffed a request from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to shut down Line 5 after one of the supports for the pipeline sustained damage, according to a statement released by the company on Saturday.

Enbridge owns Line 5, a set of two 20-inch pipelines running under the Straits of Mackinac that pump crude oil. The company notified the state on Thursday that an anchor support on one of the pipelines had “incurred significant damage,” according to a statement from Whitmer’s office. The damage was reportedly discovered on or around May 26.

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Michigan Gyms to Reopen June 25, Judge Rules

Indoor gyms in Michigan will be able to reopen this month after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders that continue to keep indoor gyms closed.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney said in an opinion published Friday that the state had given a “blanket ‘trust us’ statement that is insufficient to uphold a no-longer-blanket rule.”

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House Passes Resolution Opposing Whitmer Nursing Home Policies

The Michigan House of Representatives approved a concurrent resolution on Thursday demanding transparency from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about information related to the coronavirus in Michigan and officially opposing her coronavirus nursing home policies.

Michigan only recently began publishing data about coronavirus cases and deaths in the state’s long-term care facilities like nursing homes.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer Requests Major Disaster Declaration from President Trump Over Michigan Floods

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday requested a major disaster declaration from President Trump in response to the flooding in mid-Michigan.

The failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams last month caused catastrophic flooding in Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland and Saginaw counties. Whitmer previously declared a State of Emergency for the area, as well as requested that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy launch an investigation into the cause of the failures.

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Michigan Schools Will Hold In-Person Classes in Fall, Whitmer Announces

Michigan schools will be allowed to reopen and hold in-person classes in the fall, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Wednesday.

Schools will be required to follow strict safety measures. Whitmer said she plans to release an executive order and a “Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap” on June 30 that will contain the requirements and recommendations for schools. It is currently unclear what those requirements may be.

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Overnight Camps To Reopen June 15, Whitmer Announces

Overnight summer camps will now be allowed to meet beginning June 15, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday.

Day camps were allowed to open on June 8 per an order from Whitmer handed down on June 1. The most recent order comes as the state continues to open various services and businesses, including restaurants, gyms, and salons.

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Michigan Publishes Data on Coronavirus Cases in Long-Term Care Facilities

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is now providing data about the confirmed cases of coronavirus in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes on its website.

During a reporting period between June 3 and June 10, 98 percent of skilled nursing facilities in Michigan gave reports on the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in their facilities, according to the MDHHS website. The numbers are expected to be updated daily.

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Whitmer Touts Report Showing Stay-At-Home Order Decreased Infection Rate Even As Experts Warn of Second Wave

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer touted her stay-at-home policies on Thursday after a new report showed a drop in infection rates after the implementation of the orders, even as the report itself warns that the pandemic is not yet over.

The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team released a report on May 24 detailing how stay-at-home orders and other interventions impacted the infection rate in individual states in the U.S. The report shows that Michigan’s rate of infection fell as Whitmer instituted various polices such as closing restaurants and schools. It continued to fall when she instituted a stay-at-home mandate on March 23, crossing the threshold of infection rates fewer than one around March 30.

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Michigan Publishes Map of WiFi Hotspots to Increase Accessibility As Residents Continue to Work, Learn At Home

Michigan has released a map of WiFi hotspots available in the state as a way to assist residents who may not have reliable internet access while they continue to work or learn at home during the pandemic.

The WiFi mapping — spearheaded by the Michigan Public Service Commission, Connected Nation Michigan, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and the Department of Education — highlights locations where public internet access is available, such as libraries, public schools and parks. More than 300 locations have already been added to the map, which also includes information about the location and the password used to access the internet there.

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Michigan Sues Owner of Edenville Dam After Catastrophic Flood

The state of Michigan filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Boyce Hydro, the company that owns the Edenville Dam. It, along with the Sanford dam, failed last month after a rainstorm, causing massive flooding in Midland County.

The suit — filed by the Department of the Attorney General on behalf of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the Department of Natural Resources — will compel Boyce Hydro to immediately comply with a state order to fully inspect the portion of Edenville dam that still has potentially dangerous crack and erosion. It also requires Boyce Hydro to repair damages to the state’s natural resources, clean up the debris and hazardous materials released by the dams’ failure and pay civil fines.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Michigan for Inaccurate Voter Rolls

A voter filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater and other officials, claiming that voter rolls in at least 16 counties have not been properly maintained.

According to a report by Fox News, Republican Tony Daunt said that the Michigan voter registration rates are “suspiciously high” as old voter records have not been cleared of ineligible voters.

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Whitmer Extends Suspension Requirements of Youth Work Permit Application

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended an executive order last week that temporarily suspended certain requirements relating to the youth work permit for Michigan workers.

The order allows suspends applications “to the extent it requires an application of a work permit to be made in person,” according to the order. It allows applications to be submitted by mail, email, fax or a web-based form.

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Whitmer Seen Not Practicing Social Distancing at Thursday Protest

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was seen protesting the death of George Floyd on Thursday in Highland Park with hundreds of other people in a way that appeared to break social distancing practices, despite voicing concerns in recent weeks about similar demonstrations spreading coronavirus.

Tiffany Brown, a spokesperson for the governor, denied that Whitmer had violated the executive order issues on Monday. The order, which moved Michigan into phase four of the MI Safe Start plan, says that people should remain six feet apart at public gatherings and that gatherings should consist of 100 people or fewer.

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Executive Director of Michigan Rising Action Calls for Whitmer to Focus on Nursing Homes, Not Politics

Michigan Rising Action is calling for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “put politics aside and focus on Michigan.”

In an opinion published on May 30 in The Detroit News, Tori Sachs, the executive director for Michigan Rising Action, argued that Whitmer should shift her focus from politics and “raising her national profile” back to the state of Michigan.

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Whitmer Calls for Police Reform in Michigan Amid George Floyd Protests

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her support on Wednesday for a series of policy changes that would help police reform in Michigan, including additional training for officers, increased reporting and encouraging agencies to implement intervention policies.

Whitmer also voiced support for a Michigan Senate bill that would mandate implicit bias training, de-escalation techniques and mental health screenings for incoming law enforcement officers.

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Whitmer Fails to Discuss Nursing Home Deaths in Testimony to Oversight Committee

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer left out information on nursing homes and other long-term care residential facilities during her testimony about the coronavirus to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce on Tuesday.

The state’s decision to place people diagnosed with the novel coronavirus into nursing homes has been met with harsh criticism, especially as the state continues to not track or report data related to deaths in those facilities.

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Whitmer Lifts Michigan Stay-at-Home Order

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday, moving the entire state to phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan.

Under the new phase, retail will be allowed to open on June 4 and restaurants will be allowed to reopen on June 8, both with capacity limits. Day camps, office work, outdoor pools and in-home services such as housecleaning will also reopen.

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Michigan Launches MI Symptoms to Help Workers Track Symptoms, Prevent Coronavirus Outbreak

Michigan residents will now be able to track their daily symptoms in an online tool to help provide insight on where a new coronavirus outbreak may be next, as well as decide if they should return to work.

The Michigan departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and Economic Opportunity have partnered with the University of Michigan School of Public Health and College of Engineering to create the MI Symptoms Web Application.

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Whitmer Requests Extension to Continue Using National Guard for Coronavirus Response

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has submitted a letter to President Trump requesting the authority to continue using the Michigan National Guard to help in coronavirus response and recovery through the end of July.

Whitmer originally asked the National Guard to assist with the state’s coronavirus response on March 18. Trump approved her request on March 30.

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Whitmer Asks EGLE to Investigate Failure of Midland Dams

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy on Wednesday asking the department to investigate what caused the failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams.

The two dams failed last week after heavy rainfall in mid-Michigan. The resulting flood displaced around 10,000 people across several counties and was so heavy it was classified as a 500-year flood, meaning it is likely to happen only once every 500 years, according to MLive. Whitmer issued an emergency declaration and sent in the National Guard.

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Coalition of Michigan Gyms Sues Whitmer, Cites Infringement on Constitutional Rights

An organization representing more than 120 Michigan gyms has filed a lawsuit against the state to protest continued closures from the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit, filed Friday by the League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers, names Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Robert Gordon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It alleges that the executive orders shutting down gyms are “broad and overreaching” and “not narrowly tailored to their purpose, as required under constitutional law,” according to a statement from LIFFT.

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Michigan Reports Lowest Daily Death Toll from Coronavirus Since March 22

Michigan reported its lowest single-day death count from the coronavirus since March over the weekend, with just five deaths in Sunday’s report.

The lowest daily report before Sunday was on March 22, shortly after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the state, according to data analysis from the Detroit Free Press.

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Attorneys General Association Slams Nessel for ‘Putting Mussels Before Michigan’

The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) issued a statement criticizing Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday, saying she prioritized mussels over dam safety, leading to massive flooding in the state.
More than 10,000 Midland residents were displaced after heavy rains overflowed Edenville Dam, then Sanford Dam, earlier this week.

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Judge Sides with Whitmer in State of Emergency Extension Fight

A Michigan Court of Claims judge has ruled in the favor of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying that she had the authority to extend Michigan’s state of emergency order.

Judge Cynthia Stephens said that while Whitmer had the authority to extend the order under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, she did overstep by trying to extend it under the Emergency Management Act of 1976, which requires legislative authority, according to reporting by The Detroit News.

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Senate Confirms John Ratcliffe as Director of National Intelligence

The Senate confirmed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX-04) on Thursday as President Trump’s top intelligence official in a vote straight along party lines.

Ratcliffe became Trump’s second permanent Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in a 49-44 vote, with all Democrats opposed. The vote along party lines was the first since the position was created following the 9/11 attack as generally there are never more than a dozen senators voting against a confirmation for the position, according to CNN.

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Michigan Autodealerships, Medical Care, Retail to Reopen Next Week

Michigan retail businesses, autodealerships and medical services will begin to reopen next week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Thursday.

The latest executive order allows retail businesses to reopen on Tuesday with health and safety guidelines, including providing COVID-19 training to workers. The training must include the proper use of personal protection equipment and steps to take if a worker suspects he or she has symptoms of the coronavirus, among other information.

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Trump Criticizes Federal Funding Over Michigan Decision to Mail Absentee Voting Applications

President Trump slammed Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Wednesday, calling her a “rouge” official and threatening to withhold federal funding.

Trump originally tweeted that Michigan was planning to send absentee ballots to all of its residents, adding that “this was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path,” according to Politico.

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Whitmer Extends Order Allowing Pharmacies to Administer Emergency Refills

Michigan pharmacies will be able to continue to dispense emergency refills for up to 60 days’ worth of medication after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended an executive order designed to make accessing medications easier during the coronavirus pandemic.

The order allows pharmacists to dispense emergency refills of up to 60 days’ worth of medication, as well as requires an insurer to cover early refills for up to 90 days’ worth of supply. The executive order also allows pharmacists to dispense treatments for COVID-19 according to government protocols.

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Northern Michigan, Upper Peninsula Allowed To Reopen, Gov. Whitmer Says

Two regions in Michigan will be allowed to reopen retail businesses, office work and restaurants with limited seating, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday.

The partial reopening, which will take effect on May 22, will allow retail businesses and office work that cannot be done remotely to reopen, as well as restaurants and bars with limited seating. Restaurants and bars will be required to limit capacity to 50 percent of normal seating, keep groups at least six feet from one other and require serves to wear face coverings.

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Michigan Conservative Coalition to Host ‘Operation Haircut’ on Capitol Lawn on May 20

The Michigan Conservative Coalition is planning to hold another protest in Lansing, just a month after hosting Operation Gridlock.

The protest, dubbed “Operation Haircut,” was inspired by the Michigan barber in Owosso who opened in defiance of the state’s lockdown orders. Karl Manke, 77, had originally opened his barbershop on May 4, but was ticketed by Michigan State Police and ordered to close. He recently had his license revoked after a judge denied the state a temporary restraining order.

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More Than 47,000 File for Unemployment in Michigan as State Continues to Stay Shut Down

More than 47,000 people filed for unemployment in Michigan in the week ending May 9, bringing the state total to more than 1.7 million people in the state who have filed for unemployment insurance, according to recently released data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

According to the data, 47,438 people in Michigan filed for unemployment insurance in the state in the week ending May 9, down nearly 20,000 claimants from the previous week. Nearly 3 million people filed nationally.

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Michigan Suspends License of Owosso Barber Who Opened During Lockdown

The state of Michigan has suspended the business license of the Owosso barber who was operating his shop in defiance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Karl Manke originally reopened his barbershop, Karl Manke Main St. Barber & Beauty Shop, on May 4 and said he wore a mask, washed his hands between cuts, and sanitized his tools.

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Whitmer Extends Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration Expiration for Second Time

  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer temporarily extended the expiration of various identification and vehicle-related documentation during the pandemic for the second time, the governor announced late last week. The order extends the expiration of state identification cards, driver’s licenses, operator endorsements and vehicle registration to July 31. The documentation must be…

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Cherry Health, CBS News Slammed for Adding Staffers to Coronavirus Testing Line

A Michigan health system and CBS News have come under fire after Project Veritas revealed that a line for a COVID-19 testing site was staged for television cameras.

Cherry Health and CBS News denied directing staffers to form a line to appear as patients for a coronavirus testing site before later reversing their statement and saying that the staffers were in line to “provide a visual backdrop.”

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Whitmer Details Plan to Reopen State, Says Michigan Is in Phase Three of Six

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released her full MI Safe Start Plan this week, detailing when each type of business could open.

The six-part plan is categorized as Uncontrolled Growth, Persistent Spread, Flattening, Improving, Containing and Post-Pandemic. Whitmer said Michigan is phase three of the plan, Flattening.

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Whitmer Extends Stay-at-Home Order until May 28

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order on Thursday to May 28, while initiating her MI Safe Start Plan.

The plan allows manufacturing workers, such as those at automotive companies, to resume work on May 11. Companies must conduct daily entry screening protocol for those entering the facility, including a questionnaire about symptoms and a temperature screening. Facilities must also create dedicated entry points and suspend the entry of nonessential people.

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GOP Congressman Sues Whitmer, Says Lockdowns Are Unconstitutional

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) has sued Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her executive orders concerning the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit alleges that Whitmer’s stay-at-home order and businesses restrictions have violated his rights and those of all Michigan residents.

“Michiganders can and do take reasonable, private action to protect themselves from infection without the need to shut down civil society,” Mitchell said in the lawsuit.

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Whitmer Creates COVID-19 Spending Oversight Office, Approves $150 Million in Coronavirus Spending

Whitmer MI Capitol overcast

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability on Monday to provide a check over spending during the coronavirus pandemic.

The office, which resides in the State Budget Office, provides oversight to all spending to fight the coronavirus and will report to the governor and the state budget director.

The Department of Technology, Management and Budget will designate a chief for the office.

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Unemployment Agency Director Said He Is Unsure When Claims Will Be Processed

Michigan Unemployment Agency Director Steve Gray said that he does not know if his agency discussed how it would handle a surge in unemployment claims caused by a stay-at-home order before and that he cannot give a precise timeline for when the agency will be caught up with processing.

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