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XGR-SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY

Lawmakers change sex offender registry rules; ACLU opposes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Legislature has approved changes to Michigan’s sex offender registry after federal courts declared the current policy unconstitutional. The new rules would change aspects of registering and eliminate bans on registrants living or being within 1,000 feet of schools. It also would give an offender seven days to register upon conviction. Individuals would have to report changes in phone numbers and vehicle information. Certain offenders would be required to report all online communication or social media handles. The American Civil Liberties Union is urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to veto the legislation.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONTACT TRACING

Strained health agencies push do-it-yourself contact tracing

Health departments are asking people who test positive for the coronavirus to warn friends, family and co-workers themselves. Health officials say do-it-yourself tracing is not ideal, but with infections and hospitalizations soaring nationwide, it’s likely the most effective way to reach people who may be at risk. Health officials say it’s taking too long before tracers learn of positive tests. What’s more, many people won’t pick up the phone or refuse to answer questions when tracers call. Sometimes, there are simply too many positive tests to call everyone. Officials fear transmission will only get worse as people gather for the holidays.

SCHOOL-NAME CHANGE

Education agency in SW Michigan is dropping Cass name

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (AP) — A regional education agency named for former U.S. Sen. Lewis Cass is dropping the name. Trustees last week voted unanimously to change the name of the Cass Intermediate School District in southwestern Michigan. A new name will be selected in January. Cass, who died in 1866, was a U.S. senator as well as governor of Michigan before it became a state. He also owned slaves and removed Native Americans from tribal lands while in President Andrew Jackson’s administration. The Cass ISD provides special education and career technical education coordination to school districts in Cass County and parts of three other counties. Superintendent Brent Holcomb says the name change is an “opportunity to show some grace” in a diverse community.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES-MICHIGAN

Grants awarded for more electric vehicle charging stations

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — More electric vehicle fast-charging stations are coming to Michigan. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says more than $448,000 in grants have been awarded for six new charging locations and three expansions of previous projects. The sites are in Mount Pleasant, Kalamazoo, Shelby Township, Marlette, Grand Rapids, Owosso, Marshall, Indian River and Northville. They will be part of a network of direct current fast chargers the agency is partially funding as part of its Charge Up Michigan Program. The program offers up to $70,000 per charging station. Funding is through Michigan’s allocation from the Volkswagen diesel settlement. The state’s goal is to have the network completed by 2030.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VETERINARY STUDENTS

MSU vet students: We deserve rebates for online classes

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Veterinary students at Michigan State University are pleading for a tuition rebate after months of online instruction. The students said they expected a mix of in-person and online courses, but in-person classes were quickly dropped when the fall term began. Lauren Phillip and Breanna Demaline, on behalf of the classes of 2023 and 2024, spoke to MSU trustees, requesting a 30% refund. President Samuel Stanley Jr. says a partial refund isn’t practical, noting the university still has fixed costs. Stanley says the change in instruction is “one of the unfortunate casualties of the pandemic.”

VIRUS OUTBREAK-STATE SPENDING-MICHIGAN

AP: Michigan spent $136M on medical gear early in pandemic

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan spent more than $136 million on masks, gloves and other protective gear during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a nationwide Associated Press analysis of spending last spring, when states were racing against time and each other to protect essential workers. Michigan provided a list of 69 orders placed between late March and early May. The biggest expenditures were for face masks designed to filter out tiny particles from the air. The state also bought gowns, gloves, face shields, goggles and ventilators.

TWO DEAD-DETROIT

2 women, ages 18 and 21, are fatally shot in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — Two young women were shot and killed in Detroit when an argument turned violent. Police are looking for an 18-year-old suspect who fled with a gun Friday. Police say the young man shot the women “after a verbal altercation turned physical between multiple individuals.” 

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-STATE-SPENDING

AP: Tight supplies for virus gear cost US states billions

An Associated Press analysis shows states spent more than $7 billion this spring buying personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns as well as vital medical devices such as ventilators. The data obtained from states through open-records requests is the most comprehensive accounting to date of how much states were spending and which suppliers they were paying during a chaotic period at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Skyrocketing prices for basic medical protective gear cost states millions of taxpayer dollars. In many cases, they had to work with suppliers that had never before sold medical gear.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VACCINE

General sorry for ‘miscommunication’ over vaccine shipments

The Army general in charge of getting COVID-19 vaccines across the United States is apologizing for what he calls “miscommunication” with states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages of distribution. Gen. Gustave Perna says he failed but he’s pledging to “move forward.” Perna’s remarks came a day after a second vaccine was added in the fight against COVID-19, which has killed more than 312,000 people in the U.S. Governors in more than a dozen states have said the federal government has told them that next week’s shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be less than originally projected. Perna says he made mistakes by citing numbers of doses that he believed would be ready.

GREEN BURIALS

UP cemetery makes more room for green burials

CHASSELL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A cemetery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is making more room for so-called green burials. The Chassell Township cemetery in Houghton County has sold out of the approximately 40 sites that were created five years ago. The cemetery has added more than two dozen plots, the Daily Mining Gazette reported. Green burials refer to burials that do not use embalming fluids to preserve the body or cement vaults. The body typically is buried in a biodegradable container coffin or a cloth shroud, according to the Keweenaw Green Burial Alliance.