Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EDT
Michigan virus deaths at 3; aid OK’d for small businesses
DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan has signed off on $20 million in grants and loans to small businesses harmed by the coronavirus. At the same time, the numbers of cases and deaths tied to the outbreak are rising. About 117,000 businesses were directly hit by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order to close or greatly limit service at bars, movie theaters, fitness centers and restaurants to prevent the spread of the virus. Some could qualify for grants of up to $10,000. Meanwhile, meanwhile, reported two more deaths, raising the number to three in Michigan.
Ford suspends dividend, borrows to weather virus downturn
DETROIT (AP) — Ford is suspending its dividend to preserve cash as vehicles sales fade due to the coronavirus outbreak. The company said it’s drawing on two credit lines to put another $15.4 billion in cash on its balance sheet. Like other companies, Ford also withdrew its financial guidance for the year Thursday. The cash Ford saves will be used to offset the impact on working capital due to factory shutdowns. On Wednesday Ford and other automakers announced that they will close all of their North American factories in the coming days. Factories in Europe and elsewhere have already been shut down. Ford’s shares fell 7.1% just after the opening bell to a level not seen in about a decade.
Michigan to drop mental health questions for new lawyers
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Questions about mental health treatment will be dropped from the application to become a lawyer in Michigan. Instead, applicants to the Michigan State Bar will be asked if they’ve had any “conduct or behavior” that might affect their ability to practice law in an ethical manner. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says she hopes “aspiring attorneys will recognize that mental health issues are not professional disqualifications.” Justices Brian Zahra and Stephen Markman disagreed with the change. They noted that questions about mental health are common in many jobs and to become a foster parent.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SCHOOLS-STANDARDIZED TESTS
States suspending standardized tests as schools close
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Closing schools to combat the spread of the coronavirus has prompted several states to cancel the standardized testing that is dreaded by students and teachers alike. Many states were scheduled to begin testing in April but now face school closures that could last weeks or longer. States are asking federal education officials to waive federal testing requirements. Many states use high-stakes testing to advance students to the next grade level and rate schools and teachers. Education groups also say bringing kids in for testing after weeks of online learning wouldn’t be fair to them.
Coronavirus layoffs spark surge in state jobless claims
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Applications for jobless benefits are surging in some states as coronavirus concerns shake the U.S. economy. The sharp increase comes as governments have ordered millions of workers, students and shoppers to stay home as a precaution against spreading the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. In some states, the demand for help may outstrip the ability to pay claims. The U.S. Labor Department says 21 states began the year with unemployment insurance fund balances below the levels recommended to stay solvent in a recession. States are expected to get some help from the federal government.
UP TEENS KILLED
2 UP teens who died in vehicle had carbon monoxide poisoning
BARAGA, Mich. (AP) — A sheriff says two of three Upper Peninsula teens found unconscious in a running vehicle in February died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The deaths of Dylan Roberts and Christopher Turpeinen shocked their small communities, especially the L’Anse school district. A third person emerged from a coma three days after the Feb. 17 incident. WLUC-TV says Baraga County Sheriff Rick Johnson released the cause of the deaths after toxicology tests were completed.
Retired judge who was father of Detroit mayor dies
LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) — Patrick Duggan, a retired federal judge and father of the Detroit mayor, has died. He was 86 years old. Duggan died Wednesday at Angela Hospice in Livonia following a lengthy illness. He was the father of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Duggan was a Wayne County judge for 10 years before a promotion to federal court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Duggan retired in 2015.
Man convicted in killings of 2 gay men, transgender woman
DETROIT (AP) — A 19-year-old Detroit man has been convicted of gunning down two gay men and a transgender woman who authorities believe were targeted because of their sexual orientation last year following a house party. The Detroit News reports that a Wayne County jury convicted Devon Kareem Robinson on Tuesday of first-degree premeditated murder, assault with intent to murder and felony firearm. He could face life behind bars without the possibility of parole when he’s sentenced April 13 for the May 2019 shooting deaths of 21-year-old Alunte Davis, and 20-year-olds Timothy Blancher and Paris Cameron.
Detroit 3, UAW agree on measures to keep plants running
DETROIT (AP) — Detroit’s three automakers have agreed to partial factory shutdowns, deep cleaning of equipment and longer periods between shifts to head off union demands for U.S. plant closures due to the coronavirus threat. The agreements came Tuesday night after union officials spoke individually with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The companies also agreed to “extensive plans” to avoid member coming in contact with one another, the United Auto Workers union said in a statement. The United Auto Workers union said earlier in the day that it wanted the automakers to shut down their factories for two weeks to keep its members safe from the spreading coronavirus.
US governors expand shut downs amid coronavirus concerns
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A growing number of governors across the U.S. are ordering the temporary closure of certain businesses such as dine-in restaurants, fitness centers and movie theaters because of concerns over the coronavirus. Other governors on Monday were still leaving those decisions to local officials or the businesses themselves. That’s created a patchwork of precautions nationwide in the absence of the type of national directives that have occurred in some other countries. Some governors expressed a desire Monday for greater direction from the federal government. Others said such decisions are best made by mayors, county officials or school boards who are more closely in touch with their communities.