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

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Whitmer: Michigan will loosen capacity limits for businesses

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced the further loosening of Michigan’s coronavirus restrictions, easing capacity limits in restaurants and a host of other businesses while also allowing for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings. The revised state order takes effect Friday. The Democratic governor says families will be able to visit nursing homes after being tested for COVID-19. Restaurants and bars, now limited to 25% capacity inside, will have a 50% restriction. A 10 p.m curfew will shift to 11 p.m. Venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, banquet halls and casinos will have higher capacity limits, too.

MICHIGAN OFFICIALS-SEVERANCE

Whitmer faces criticism over severance deals for officials

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is facing criticism after the disclosure of two additional employment-separation deals for former top officials, a day after a $155,000 payout to Michigan’s ex-health director Robert Gordon came to light. He abruptly resigned Jan. 22. At that time, Whitmer wouldn’t say if she’d sought his exit. Republican lawmakers are vowing to try to prevent Whitmer from entering into future separation deals that “silence” departing officials. Whitmer’s administration confirmed Tuesday that Steve Gray, former director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency, got a separation deal. No details were provided. 

KLAN FLAG

No charges after klan flag hangs next to Black family’s home

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (AP) — No charges will be filed against a suburban Detroit man who displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in his window next to the home of a Black family. Prosecutor Kym Worthy says the incident in Grosse Pointe Park was “horrible” but doesn’t count as ethnic intimidation under Michigan law. Worthy says the law requires physical contact, property damage or threats. JeDonna Dinges says the flag was hanging next door in a window directly across from her dining room. The flag was removed after police with large cloths visited the home and made a switch. The city manager told the Detroit Free Press that the man’s girlfriend claimed they couldn’t afford a curtain.

MICHIGAN ELECTION-AUDITS

Michigan official: Audits show state had a secure election

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says state audits of the 2020 general election show it was secure and reflected the will of voters. She announced the results Tuesday of 250 audits that were conducted by more than 1,300 clerks across the state. She said local clerks checked numbers by comparing the hand-count total of paper ballots to machine-tabulated numbers. She says clerks also examined post-election procedures. She says clerks delivered on providing timely results during an election marked with difficulty due to changes in voting laws and a pandemic. She said clerks then had more work as baseless conspiracy theories were spread by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. 

FLINT WATER

Judge to hear Snyder arguments about indictment next week

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Former Gov. Rick Snyder’s bid to have misdemeanor charges dismissed in the Flint water crisis will get a hearing next Tuesday. Judge William Crawford II had expressed uncertainty about whether he could rule on the legitimacy of an indictment against Snyder. But he says he now feels confident that he can. Snyder faces misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty. Snyder-appointed emergency managers switched Flint’s water supply to the Flint River in 2014, but the water wasn’t properly treated to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Snyder’s lawyers are arguing that the indictment returned by a one-person grand jury was filed in the wrong county because Snyder didn’t work in Genesee County.

DETROIT FIREFIGHTERS-ALCOHOL

Detroit to help firefighters after drinking incidents

DETROIT (AP) — The mayor of Detroit says the fire department has a “very serious problem” after two on-duty employees were involved in alcohol-related crashes. Mayor Mike Duggan says the city will conduct an audit in which employees can step forward and speak confidentially about alcohol use and other issues. Duggan says firefighters who face the additional strain of serving as medical first responders will be provided with mental health services. The mayor says the stress of COVID-19 has been a contributing factor. The latest incident occurred over the weekend when a captain crashed a city vehicle and nearly landed it on a freeway.

ICE FISHING-BODY RECOVERED

Dive team recovers body of angler who fell through lake ice

SUNFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An angler has died after falling through ice on a mid-Michigan lake. The Eaton County sheriff’s office says the 41-year-old man was fishing Monday afternoon on Tamarock Lake in Sunfield Township. Rescuers responded to the lake west of Lansing after a 911 call from someone else who was fishing. A dive team later recovered the body of Jason Betts.

CRASH-THREE KILLED

Woman, unborn child among 3 killed in western Michigan crash

BRANCH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A woman, her unborn child and a man have been killed after the minivan they were in collided with another vehicle in western Michigan. The Mason County sheriff’s office said a Jeep Patriot struck the minivan about 1:45 p.m. Monday in Branch Township. The minivan driver, 24-year-old David McLain-Williams of nearby Scottville, died at the scene of the crash. Deputies say 22-year-old old Ashley Plotts of Scottville died at a hospital. She was eight months pregnant. The 27-year-old driver of the Jeep Patriot ran from the crash site but was caught about a half-mile away. Branch Township is northwest of Grand Rapids.

MICHIGAN HEALTH DIRECTOR-AGREEMENT

Ex-health director gets $155,000 in separation agreement

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former Michigan Department of Public Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon will receive more than $155,000 as part of a separation agreement. The agreement revealed Monday calls for Gordon to drop all claims against the state. It also promises legal assistance in matters relating to actions he took while director. Gordon resigned in January after the Michigan Supreme Court effectively invalidated many of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon issued essentially the same mandates under state laws unaddressed by the court, prompting protests outside his home.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-NFL-STADIUM

Home of NFL’s Detroit Lions hosts COVID-19 vaccine clinic

DETROIT (AP) — The domed home of the Detroit Lions has welcomed educators and school staff from southeast Michigan for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Although Ford Field can accommodate tens of thousands of fans on NFL Sunday, it hosted considerably fewer during the event. Retailer Meijer and the Michigan Education Special Services Association worked together to identify and schedule 2,600 educational employees still needing the vaccine. The Ford Field event was pre-registration only and at capacity.  The educators will return to Ford Field for their second shot in a few weeks.