Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EDT
VIRUS OUTBREAK-WHITMER RESTRICTIONS-PUSHBACK
Republicans decry Michigan governor’s latest stay-home order
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to toughen rather than relax what already was one of the country’s strictest stay-home orders is hitting opposition in her home state. Republicans who backed her moves initially are now ratcheting up their criticism of the Democratic governor. GOP lawmakers and allies in the business community say certain operations can operate again if they adhere to social distancing guidelines. Those include golf courses, marinas and landscaping companies. Others in rural areas say the restrictions should no longer be imposed statewide when the coronavirus is far more concentrated in the Detroit area . Whitmer says she’s saving lives.
Michigan tops 27,000 virus cases; deaths up 10% to 1,768
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan will offer relief to struggling bars and restaurants relief by buying back their liquor inventory during the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an order late Monday authorizing the program. Meanwhile, the number of virus cases statewide has cracked 27,000, up 5% from Monday. Deaths from COVID-19 rose 10% to 1,768. Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan got a batch of bad masks from the federal stockpile of protective gear. A spokeswoman says about 2,000 ear-loop-style masks distributed last week had “durability issues.” The rest of the 22,000-mask shipment won’t be used.
Fisherman’s body found; son still missing in SE Michigan
SOUTH ROCKWOOD, Mich. (AP) — Police say the body of a man has been recovered near the mouth of Lake Erie, more than two weeks after he and his 6-year-old son disappeared while fishing in southeastern Michigan. Police were informed about the discovery Monday and confirmed the identity of Justin Oaks of Rockwood. The body of Jaxon Oaks hasn’t been found. On March 29, father and son were in a 14-foot boat in the Huron River, between Lake Erie and an Interstate 75 overpass. The boat was found on April 5.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOCAL RELIEF AID
Cities, counties fear losing out on US virus rescue funding
WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of U.S. cities and counties grappling with the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic might receive little of the emergency funding in the $2.2 trillion federal rescue package. The Relief Fund uses a formula based on population to parcel out tens of billions of dollars to the states while allowing cities and counties with more than 500,000 residents to apply directly to the Treasury Department for cash infusions. But localities below that population threshold are in limbo. Lawmakers and advocacy groups are urging federal officials to ensure the relief fund money is widely and fairly distributed.
Kate the Chemist book has 25 experiments for housebound kids
LOS ANGELES (AP) — If your housebound family needs a new diversion, follow Kate Biberdorf’s example and try a hands-on approach. The Texas college professor known as Kate the Chemist wants kids to have fun with chemistry experiments using common ingredients such as dish soap and baking soda. Her new book, “Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments,” has 25 projects for children ages 8 to 12, all intended to be entertaining and educational. Biberdorf has co-written “Kate the Chemist: Dragons vs. Unicorns,” also out this month. It’s the first in a planned fiction series featuring a 10-year-old Kate as an intrepid problem solver.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-BALLOT DRIVE
Anti-LGBT discrimination ballot drive moves to e-signatures
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A group spearheading a ballot drive to add LGBT anti-discrimination protections to Michigan’s civil rights law is moving to collect voter signatures online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fair and Equal Michigan says Monday the electronic petition campaign is believed to be the first in state history. The group says the strategy is legal and secure. People who want to sign can go to a website with a two-factor authentication system and enter their driver’s license or state ID card number to be cross-checked against the voter file. The ballot committee has until late May to collect about 340,000 valid signatures.
Lawn company fails to reap tax break at Michigan court
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A lawn care company had hoped to harvest a significant tax break. But it has failed to break ground at the Michigan appeals court. TruGreen said it should qualify for a tax exemption on seed, fertilizer and other products that enhance the lawns of customers. It wants to be treated like farmers who till and plant. TruGreen latched on to a key phrase in Michigan law referring to “things of the soil.” But the appeals court said the company’s services don’t qualify for the tax break. Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said “things of the soil” doesn’t pertain to “blades of well-tended grass.”
Virus fuels pot industry’s push for online sales, delivery
DENVER (AP) — Colorado has made online sales of recreational marijuana legal during the coronavirus pandemic, fulfilling one of the pot industry’s biggest wishes. The move is also fueling the argument for more concessions that could be made permanent when the crisis eases. Dispensaries can remain open during a statewide stay-at-home order, and customers can now pay for marijuana online and then pick up their purchase at the store. Online sales had been barred in large part because most credit card companies shy away from dealing with a drug that is illegal federally. Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois and Oregon also allow online recreational marijuana sales.
US restaurants turn to grocery sales to help offset losses
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements tied to the pandemic have put restaurant dining on hold, forcing many to close and leaving others barely hanging on. From large chains to mom-and-pop eateries, many restaurants have opened make-shift grocery stores. Panera, Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Subway are among national chains that have begun selling grocery items. Several local restaurants across the country are doing so, too. The fallout from the coronavirus has devastated restaurants. Data from the National Restaurant Association says the industry has lost 3 million jobs and $25 billion in sales since March 1.
Panel readies proposals on Upper Peninsula propane supplies
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A panel studying ways to secure energy for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is developing recommendations on propane supplies. The U.P. Energy Task Force will meet Monday by video conference to wrap up the list, which must be submitted to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by Friday. More than 800 public comments were received. The final recommendations, technical document and appendices will be posted online. The task force next will begin discussions on alternative solutions for meeting the U.P.’s energy needs. It will focus on security, reliability, affordability and environmental soundness.