Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan hospital leaders renew vaccination plea amid deaths

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan health and business officials are pleading with people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They cite hospital workforce shortages, unnecessary deaths and concerns that end-of-summer travel and the return to school may fuel a case surge. Hospitals are operating at near capacity as coronavirus caseloads rise and non-COVID-19 patients seek care they delayed. The 1,300 adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday was well below past peaks. But hospitals say there are fewer employees and that non-COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized for longer. Physicians say there’s a new dimension of stress and sadness on the front lines caring for dying patients who aren’t vaccinated.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Judge extends block of Western Michigan vaccine mandate

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge has extended his order blocking Western Michigan University from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement against 16 athletes. U.S. District Judge Paul  Maloney issued a ruling from the bench Thursday granting the athletes the right to continue to compete and participate in intercollegiate athletics until he issues an opinion and order on converting a temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction. Unlike at other Michigan universities, Western’s vaccine requirement does not extend to all students and employees, although the unvaccinated must undergo weekly coronavirus testing. The athletes say they were denied religious exemptions to play without getting a dose.

MICHIGAN UNEMPLOYMENT

Michigan House panel criticizes state unemployment agency

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan House Oversight committee brought in the acting Unemployment Insurance Agency director for questions Thursday about the agency’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans on the committee have long been critical of the agency’s procedures and speed of issuing benefits over the pandemic. Reps took the opportunity to get acting director Liza Estlund Olson to address how nearly 700,000 residents were notified that they’d have to reapply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and worried they would have to repay all of their assistance.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR-KIDNAPPING PLOT

5 men accused of Whitmer kidnapping plot want to delay trial

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Five men accused of planning to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year because of her COVID-19 restrictions want to postpone their October trial until 2022. In a court filing, attorneys say they’re still plowing through hours of audio secretly recorded by informants and FBI agents. They’re also “investigating recent developments” related to the conduct of agents. Trial in federal court in Grand Rapids has been set for Oct. 12. The defendants would like a 90-day extension for all deadlines in the case. Prosecutors must respond next week. The government says the five men conspired to kidnap Whitmer, even scouting her second home in northern Michigan. They’ve pleaded not guilty and claim to be victims of entrapment.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DOCTOR-ASSAULT

Victims of doctor sue U of Michigan over public speech limit

DETROIT (AP) — The University of Michigan is being sued by 10 people who say they were sexually assaulted by a campus doctor. The school is accused of violating Michigan law by limiting the number of people who can speak at public meetings held by its governing board. Victims of the late Dr. Robert Anderson say they were denied a chance to speak at a July meeting. Attorney Parker Stinar says it’s “traumatizing” for them. The university says it has a right to set limits. It also notes that some Anderson victims did speak in July. Hundreds of men say they were molested by Anderson while he served at the University of Michigan. He died in 2008. The university has acknowledged that assaults occurred.

2020 ELECTION-TRUMP-LAWYERS

Michigan, Detroit seek $204K for fighting election lawsuit

DETROIT (AP) — Attorneys for Detroit and the state of Michigan are seeking $204,000 in fees for successfully defending a post-election lawsuit filed by lawyers aligned with former President Donald Trump. The tally was filed two weeks after a judge said the lawyers would pay a penalty for pursuing the case. The final figure will be determined later. Trump voters filed a lawsuit in November after Michigan’s vote in favor of Joe Biden was certified. They claimed fraud and wanted voting machines impounded. Federal Judge Linda Parker says the lawsuit was a sham.

AP-US-BIDEN-FACT-CHECK

AP FACT CHECK: Biden overstates UAW support of electric cars

DETROIT (AP) — President Joe Biden is glossing over important details and oversimplifying the facts when it comes to United Auto Workers’ support for his effort to dramatically boost U.S. production of electric vehicles. That’s according to an AP Fact Check. In remarks Wednesday, Biden said UAW backed the effort by the largest automakers and his administration to significantly increase EV sales, which is part of his plan to combat climate change. While UAW has expressed general support, it has specifically declined to endorse the automakers’ target that 40% to 50% of new car sales be electric vehicles by decade’s end, due to its concern about the impact on jobs.

FORD-INDIA

After exiting Brazil, Ford pulls plug on production in India

Ford is ending auto production in India after logging accumulated operating losses of more than $2 billion over the past 10 years. An end to production in India comes less than a year after Ford said it would close its three plants in Brazil, ceasing operations in a country where it had operated since 1919. Closing plants in India will lead to job losses of about 4,000, the company said in a filing Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. New CEO Jim Farley signaled almost immediately after taking the top job at Ford last year that the company was taking another look at countries with fast-growing economies that had been expected to drive sales for the Detroit automaker. 

LEAD PIPES

Whitmer proposes spending $200M to replace lead water pipes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to spend $200 million in federal pandemic relief funding to replace lead water pipes across the state, where aging underground infrastructure was exposed by Flint’s disaster. The plan, if approved by the Legislature, would set aside $20 million to replace all of the lines in Benton Harbor in five years. The majority Black city in the state’s southwestern corner has been exceeding the federal lead limit since 2018. That year, Michigan began enforcing the nation’s strictest rules for lead in drinking water in the wake of the crisis in Flint, another impoverished city with a majority Black population. The regulations will result in replacing every lead service pipe statewide by 2041.

CHARITY-FRAUD

Man who led charity pleads guilty to taking cash

CLINTON, Mich. (AP) — The former leader of a Michigan charity for children and families has pleaded guilty to fraud in a scheme to use the group’s cash for lodging, travel and even a new roof. The government says John Lynch had “unchallenged authority” as chief financial officer and then chief executive at the Holy Cross organization, based in Clinton in Lenawee County. The Grosse Pointe Park man pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit. The government says Holy Cross largely relied on public money for its activities, including services for needy families and children. Lynch’s plea agreement describes more than $200,000 in payments that benefited him or a relative.