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Michigan reports dip in virus cases but might be fewer tests

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan public health officials are reporting a big drop in the daily number of COVID-19 cases but are cautioning against drawing wider conclusions as fewer tests are conducted on weekends. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 645 new cases Sunday compared with 1,392 the day before.  Public health officials say Sunday tally included 95 deaths, compared with 111 deaths on Saturday. Health officials say they can’t confirm if the dip “represents a true decline” of coronavirus cases. There’s limited data to compare, but the case count could reflect fewer tests administered on weekends. 


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.


Telemedicine surges in Michigan as doctors close offices

DETROIT (AP) — Officials say the closure of doctor’s offices around Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic has spurred a statewide surge in the embrace of telemedicine, a practice that allows doctors to treat patients remotely by phone or computer, officials said. Hospitals and doctors have moved quickly to adopt the technology after government agencies and lawmakers removed regulatory obstacles starting in early March.  The Detroit News reports that experts say the telemedicine technology has advanced and spread quickly in a matter of weeks amid Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home, stay-safe executive order. 


Michigan reports 111 new virus deaths as cases near 24,000

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan has reported 111 new deaths from COVID-19, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to nearly 1,400 as its confirmed coronavirus cases approached 24,000. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, meanwhile, announced Saturday that 13 new or expanded COVID-19 drive-through testing sites would begin operating around the state under a plan to increase the state’s daily testing by about 40 percent. The state Department of Health and Human Services reports that the new deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, had brought the state’s death toll to 1,392. Michigan had another 1,210 confirmed coronavirus cases, boosting the state’s total to 23,993.


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.


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 The secretary of state will share the information with local clerks who need help.


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.


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.”


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.