Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 4:20 p.m. EDT

VIRUS OUTBREAK-COMMUNITY GARDENS

Michigan food bank delays opening gardens due to pandemic

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Lansing-area food bank has postponed opening 19 community gardens because of concerns that residents using them or sharing gardening tools could spread or contract the coronavirus. The Greater Lansing Food Bank mission for the Garden Project provides home and community gardens for low- and moderate-income residents. The organization says the allotments, which usually open in April or May, will remain closed until further notice. CEO Michelle Lantz told The Lansing State Journal that the nonprofit doesn’t want to encourage people to be out in a community setting in contact with one another. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month issued an executive stay-at-home order.

ELECTION WORKERS SEARCH

Michigan officials seek workers for local May 5 elections

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Do you want a front seat to democracy? The state of Michigan is looking for people to serve as workers in the May 5 local elections. Many older residents who have served in the past are staying home to avoid the risk of getting the coronavirus. The local elections will be conducted primarily by mail, but workers are needed to process and count ballots and staff clerk offices. All registered voters are eligible to serve as election workers. A website where people can fill out a form is at Michigan.gov/DemocracyMVP. The secretary of state will share the information with local clerks who need help.

TODDLER SLAIN-WOMAN CHARGED

Woman, 36, charged in toddler’s fatal beating

DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 36-year-old western Michigan woman has been charged with murder and child abuse following the death of a toddler she was babysitting. Kellie Barthel was arraigned Friday in Montcalm County District Court. Nearly 2-year-old Vayda Vasquez was found unresponsive March 2 in a Douglass Township home, northeast of Grand Rapids. She had suffered multiple skull fractures and later was pronounced dead. Barthel was arrested Wednesday. The Associated Press was unable Friday night to determine if Barthel has an attorney.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan reports 205 new virus deaths, highest daily total

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan has reported 205 new deaths from COVID-19, the state’s highest daily toll since the pandemic began. Also Friday, a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients opened at the TCF Center in Detroit to ease the pressure on health care providers. Despite the rising death toll, hospitals in hard-hit southeastern Michigan have been expressing optimism about their caseloads. As a result, Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan hasn’t opened a temporary hospital as planned. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended her stay-at-home order through April 30. She says the spike in deaths shows “we are not out of the woods yet.”

VIRUS OUTBREAK-DETROIT-FAST TEST

Fast virus tests quickly returning Detroit officers to work

DETROIT (AP) — Dozens of police officer have been able to return to work quickly after being quarantined, or have avoided quarantine altogether, because of speedy testing for the new coronavirus. Over the past week or so, more than 1,000 officers, firefighters, paramedics, bus drivers and other city employees have provided nasal swabs before starting their shifts. Results are available in 15 minutes. Mayor Mike Duggan’s office says 990 of the tests came back negative for the virus, while 140 were positive. Of the police officers tested, 307 were negative and 45 were positive. The quick test was developed by Abbott Laboratories, based in suburban-Chicago.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SCHOOL MEALS

Schools struggle to safely get free meals to needy students

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Schools that feed millions of children from low-income families across the U.S. promised to keep providing meals during the coronavirus pandemic. But cities big and small quickly ran into problems when food workers, teachers and volunteers became infected or were too scared to report for duty. Some districts have been forced to suspend their programs altogether. That’s left families who are already struggling more desperate. After a more than weeklong shutdown in Houston, schools in the nation’s fourth-largest city made changes to reduce risks. The district started giving out enough food to last for several days in fewer locations.

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. University of Michigan economists project the state’s unemployment rate will reach 24% this quarter. Michigan 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.

DEVOS-LOAN FORGIVENESS

DeVos reaches settlement in lawsuit over loan relief program

The U.S. Education Department is promising to process student loan forgiveness claims for nearly 170,000 borrowers within 18 months as part of a proposed settlement announced Friday in a federal lawsuit filed in California. The lawsuit alleged that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos illegally stalled a program known as borrower defense to repayment, which forgives federal student loans for borrowers who are cheated by their colleges. When the lawsuit was filed in June 2019, it had been a year since the department issued a final decision on any claim. Under the settlement, DeVos admits no wrongdoing but promises to issue final decisions on all pending claims within 18 months and to cancel debt for approved claims within 21 months.

AP-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-MEDICAL-SUPPLIES

U.S. states share, get creative in hunt for medical supplies

With the federal stockpile drained of protective gear, states are turning to each other, private industries and anyone who can donate in a desperate bid to get respirators, gloves and other supplies to doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Wednesday that the federal cupboard is officially bare at least through this month after it was able to fulfill just a sliver of states’ requests. States already have begun working together, whether its forming regional alliances to create greater purchasing power or sending excess supplies to hot spots.

JAPAN-VIRUS OUTBREAK-AUTOS

Japan auto industry vows to protect jobs amid virus crisis

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda is promising that the Japanese auto industry will seek to protect jobs worldwide, as it braces to overcome the unfolding crisis set off by the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking as head of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Toyoda said Friday that he was worried the Japanese economy might be destroyed before the world can win the fight against the sickness caused by COVID-19. He said on an online news conference that he fears the nation’s hospitals may get overloaded with patients and Japan may never recover. JAMA brings together Japanese automakers, including Nissan and Honda, as well as parts makers. It plans to set up a special fund to help people laid off find new jobs.