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Whitmer on not ordering new Covid rules, Macomb prosecutor sues executive, board defends equity challenge - Energy And Water Development Corp

Whitmer on not ordering new Covid rules, Macomb prosecutor sues executive, board defends equity challenge

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020, mask mandates were implemented and businesses went to takeout-only. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she hasn’t taken actions like she did early in the pandemic because vaccines are now available.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t know that a mask was such an important tool that each of us could utilize to keep ourselves safe. We just knew this virus was spreading fast, and it was taking a huge toll,” she said. 

Shed noted that Michigan was a virus hot spot in March and April of 2020.

“We had to act quickly with blunt tools just to keep people from getting the virus,” she said. “Here we are, almost two years later. We have vaccines that work, boosters that are incredibly effective at keeping people from getting really sick.”

The state’s current surge of infections is unlike previous increases, the state’s chief medical executive said Tuesday. The increase over the holidays was expected, but the emergence of omicron has pushed that trend into unprecedented numbers

Dr. Natasha Bagdarsarian did say bright spots amid the surge include the arrival of oral antiviral treatments that when prescribed at the right time, can decrease an infection’s symptoms. She also said more than 2.5 million COVID-19 booster shots had been administered. 

Whitmer added that her husband currently has a mild case of Covid because he has his booster.

Macomb prosecutor sues county executive

A county prosecutor is suing his executive over unfilled positions in the department that he claims he’s been kept from filling with new employees. Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido said 10 positions, including six assistant prosecuting attorney slots are unfilled.

The board of commissioners approved the roughly $300,000 to fund those support positions, but county attorney John Schapka says doing so, would shortchange other departments. According to the charter and state constitution, it’s unclear if the county is required to spend the money appropriated for those positions.

“We’re talking about a billion-dollar budget and we’re going to squawk about three hundred thousand dollars,” said attorney Todd Perkins, representing Lucido’s office. They’re asking for a court to make a judgement as to how the law should be interpreted. 

But Schapka, representing Executive Mark Hackel and his office, says three of the positions for assistant prosecutor had been posted, but it was Lucido who told Human Resources to hold off on posting the other jobs. Perkins denied that characterization. 

Farmington Hills defends 21-day Equity Challenge

The Farmington Hills School Board is standing firm on its stance on its 21-day Equity Challenge, which drummed up both support and opposition during a busy Tuesday meeting. Parents from a Republican protest group accused the board of trying to indoctrinate kids with the challenge.

“Special to Farmington Hills, Farmington, and West Bloomfield parents want to be heard,” said Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski, head of the Oakland County Republican Party. “They want a seat at the table not just constantly excluded by one political side or another.”

The challenge has its roots in an online program that was optional for staff and residents to participate in. It was intended to help teach people about issues of equity that bubble up on a daily basis for some people. But protesters at the meeting believed it was a ploy for more nefarious teachings. 

“The board of education wants to promote adult behaviors that support a culture of equity and innovation because FPS has a vision for high achievement for all of its students,” said Terri A. Weems, board president.

Forgotten Harvest sees 30% increase in need

The mission at Forgotten Harvest is fighting hunger and food insecurity. “As the pandemic hit we lost out on some of our corporate volunteer partners, and we’ve seen a lot of them come back – but not entirely,” said Mike Spicer, CEO.

The cold weather blast this winter has also impacted volunteer efforts. “We’ve noticed that we have a lot of no-shows the colder the weather gets,” he added. The lack of volunteers comes as more in the community are seeking help – Spicer said there is a 30% increase.

More volunteers are needed to help meet the demands of the packing and distribution of food to those in need. “We have approximately 250 volunteer opportunities a week, today,” he said. “In the next few months we will be launching our new campus which is off of Eight Mile, and we will need even more volunteers.”

Those who answer the call to volunteer will see that safety protocols are a priority. “We have pretty stringent cleaning protocols, we do some electrostatic cleaning once a week here at all of our facilities, we provide PPE, and we are very diligent about social distancing,” he said. If you would like to learn how you can make a difference go to

Michigan Medicine canceling surgeries over omicron

“Michigan Medicine and across our state healthcare is truly at a crisis,” said Dr. Marschall Runge, CEO of Michigan Medicine. It is a crisis that is putting more people at risk including those who rely on medical care – as more cases of COVID-19 surge. The hospital has had 739 employees test positive since Jan. 1.

“This staffing shortage is the most serious we have ever seen,” said Runge. Michigan Medicine will have a two-week pause on visitors to the adult hospitals effective on Wednesday due to the contagiousness of the omicron variant. The variant leading to higher Covid positivity rates – even among children.

“We have never seen this many children hospitalized with COVID-19,” said Dr. Erika Newman, C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital. “We are seeing younger kids and teens with Covid-related respiratory illnesses, pneumonia.”

“We are also concerned about the increased cases in pregnant women that could increase premature births,” said Luanne Ewald, CEO Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. The vast majority of Covid patients receiving care at Michigan Medicine are unvaccinated. And as more people need treatment for coronavirus at hospitals, Michigan Medicine is forced to make changes like postponing surgeries.

What else we’re watching

  1. A Michigan Republican leader in Genesee County was ordered onto probation and to write an essay on the effects of bullying after he was accused of making a threatening call to a Democrat in northern Michigan. 
  2. Former Michigan health director Nick Lyon will be in court Wednesday in an effort to get his involuntary manslaughter charge in the Flint Water Crisis dropped. He’s been blamed for the spike in Legionnaires’ disease.  
  3. The city of Walled Lake has issued a boil water advisory after experiencing a loss of pressure. The loss came as the Great Lakes Water Authority were making the final repairs to a water main that broke last year. Several other cities experienced the same issue Tuesday afternoon.
  4. Michigan Central Station’s revitalization is making progress. Workers have rehabbed much of the facility, but still have a ways to go. Check in on the project’s transformation here
  5. The Red Cross has issued its first ever blood shortage following a spike in need among hospitals around the country. The non-profit is hosting a blood drive at the Costick Center in Farmington Hills. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Wednesday temperatures will rebound in a big way as parts of Southeast Michigan could see close to a 30-degree swing upwards, lifting the region out of it’s frigid cold that’s been freezing it for the past week. 

Philadelphia fire: Lighter, Christmas tree started fire that killed 12 in Fairmount

Fire investigators on Tuesday said a Christmas tree ignited by a lighter caused a deadly rowhome fire in Fairmount last week that killed 12 people, including nine children.

“We believe with certainty – so 99 to 100% confidence – that the first item ignited in this blaze was a Christmas tree,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said. “We believe with near certainty, based on the evidence, the ignition source for this tree was a lighter that was located nearby.”

Thiel detailed the “exhaustive” investigation that included looking for all possible sources of ignition and sifting through charred debris. Investigators eventually concluded that a lighter found near the tree sparked the deadly fire.

Earlier in the week, a warrant revealed that authorities were investigating if a 5-year-old child playing with a lighter ignited the deadly blaze. Thiel did not confirm the theory, but he said that a 5-year-old was the only person on the second floor where the tree and the lighter were located at the time of the fire.

“We are left with the words of that 5-year-old child, that traumatized 5-year-old child, to help us understand how the lighter and the tree came together with tragic consequences,” Thiel said. 

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