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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan governor extends stay-at-home order through April

DETROIT (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order through April, saying it must continue longer to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The order took effect March 24 and had been scheduled to expire early next week. The order prohibits employers from requiring workers to leave their homes unless necessary to protect life or conduct minimum basic operations. It also bars gatherings of any number outside a single household, except to care for a family member, though places of religious worship are exempt from misdemeanor penalties.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN UNEMPLOYMENT

Nearly 385,000 more file unemployment claims in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A record 384,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment in Michigan last week amid continued punishing economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 800,000 sought jobless benefits over the past three weeks, according to figures released Thursday. The state’s 3.6% unemployment rate could top 15% when the April employment report is released in early May. The state has been overwhelmed by a flood of applications, and some of those out of work have had trouble applying online or by phone. The Unemployment Insurance Agency is adding staff and expanding call center hours.

GREAT LAKES CLEANUP

Great Lakes get extra funds for cleanups, invasive species

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials say additional funds provided by Congress will help clean up toxic sites and otherwise protect the Great Lakes. Lawmakers put $320 million into this year’s budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which deals with longstanding pollution issues. That’s $20 million more than usual. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said Thursday that the extra money will help remove toxic sediments, prevent invasions by species such as Asian carp, and restore wildlife habitat.

MICHIGAN PIPELINE

Enbridge seeks permits to build Great Lakes oil tunnel

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Enbridge is seeking state and federal permits to build an oil pipeline beneath the waterway linking Lakes Huron and Michigan. The Canadian company filed a permit application Wednesday with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Approval from both is needed for the project to go forward. Enbridge wants to drill a tunnel in bedrock beneath the Straits of Mackinac to replace an underwater segment of its Line 5 pipe. It carries 23 million gallons of oil daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-WOMAN’S PLEA

Nursing home resident who died had asked Alexa for help

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (AP) — A nursing home resident in western Michigan who died from COVID-19 complications repeatedly asked her Amazon Echo for help with pain. LouAnn Dagen died Saturday after arriving at Mercy Health St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids. Her sister, Penny Dagen, discovered recordings and shared them with WOOD-TV. LouAnn Dagen was 66 years old and lived at Metron of Cedar Springs. Penny Dagen said her sister was getting medicine to help with pain. She said LouAnn was taken to the hospital when her oxygen and blood pressure dropped. The nursing home said last week that 31 residents and five staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-GENERAL MOTORS

US to buy 30,000 ventilators from General Motors

The federal government will buy 30,000 ventilators from General Motors by the end of August for $489.4 million. GM says it will cover its costs but won’t make a profit on the devices, which will cost the Department of Health and Human Services just over $16,300 each. HHS says in a statement that the ventilators will be distributed to where they are needed most to treat coronavirus patients. GM will start by delivering 6,132 ventilators by June 1. On March 18, GM began working with Seattle-area ventilator maker Ventec Life Systems to increase the company’s production. The automaker is retooling an electronics factory in Kokomo, Indiana, to build the devices.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Mayor: Coronavirus ‘starting to weaken’ in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — The mayor of Detroit said the coronavirus is “starting to weaken” in Michigan’s largest city. But Mike Duggan also pleaded with residents to keep the momentum going by wearing masks and avoiding large groups. Meanwhile, health officials reported Wednesday that Michigan has had nearly 20,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 959 total deaths from the disease caused by the virus. There were fewer new Michigan cases and deaths reported Wednesday than on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a local leader in northern Michigan has asked the governor to bar people from traveling back and forth to their second homes, saying it puts year-round residents of vacation communities at greater risk.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HELPING NUMBERS

Roadside pantries created to aid communities amid COVID-19

BELLAIRE, Mich. (AP) — Northern Michigan has set up roadside pantries in efforts to help neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic, including stocking Little Free Libraries with food and supplies instead of books. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported the idea for having roadside pantries available was inspired from a similar effort by an Indiana man who wanted to support college students in his town. Along with pop-up food shares, communities have transformed public bookcases called Little Free Libraries, with food items and household supplies like cleaners and bathroom tissue instead of books.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EMERGENCY

Michigan lawmakers extend emergency declaration in pandemic

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has lengthened Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency declaration by 23 days, through April, rather than adopt the 70-day extension she had sought. Republicans say they had to vote Tuesday to keep Whitmer’s emergency declaration from expiring. But Democrats say it would not have lapsed because she issued a declaration last week, meaning legislators did not have to vote until April 29. Lengthening Whitmer’s emergency is important because the original declaration is the basis for roughly 30 subsequent executive orders, including those telling people to stay home and closing schools and businesses.

DIVISION 2 ALL-STATE BOYS

Benton Harbor’s Johnson adds AP POY to impressive award haul

Benton Harbor’s Carlos “Scooby” Johnson hauled in another noteworthy individual honor, winning The Associated Press Division 2 Player of the Year award. Johnson was also Michigan’s Mr. Basketball this year. Johnson averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds per contest this season. A four-time selection to the All-State first team, he averaged a double-double in his Tigers career. He finishes as Benton Harbor’s career leader with 1,939 points. Goodrich’s Gary Barns, who completed his 29th season as head coach and 41st year with the program, was voted AP Division 2 Coach of the Year after leading the Martians to a 21-1 record.