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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Whitmer eyes reopening economy; rise in virus cases slows

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she hopes to begin reopening parts of Michigan’s economy on May 1 after weeks of a strict stay-at-home order that has crippled businesses and caused more than 1 million unemployed people to seek aid. Whitmer said relaxing the restrictions will come in phases. Her stay-at-home order that runs through April 30. Meanwhile, new coronavirus cases rose by 2% on Friday, a much slower pace than in previous days. in Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan reported upbeat news from area hospitals, declaring: “We are beating this thing.”

FLINT WATER

Prosecutors in Flint water probe: We’re still on the case

DETROIT (AP) — Prosecutors said Flint’s water scandal remains under criminal investigation. They said there’s been a “misconception” that time soon will expire for any charges to be filed. The attorney general’s office last year dropped charges against eight people and said it was starting from scratch. Next week is the six-year anniversary of the decision to distribute water from the Flint River without treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead leached from old pipes. There’s a six-year limit under Michigan law to pursue certain crimes. But Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy and state attorney Fadwa Hammoud suggest they’re looking at key decisions and events that occurred after the water switch.  

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN-EVICTION

Apartment complex: Eviction notices did not circumvent order

DETROIT (AP) — The owners of a Detroit apartment complex insist they weren’t trying to circumvent a state order preventing evictions during the coronavirus pandemic when they sent seven-day notices to nearly 80 tenants who are behind on their rent. Arie Leibovitz is a principal in ownership of the Jeffersonian just northeast of downtown. Leibovitz says they sent the eviction notices to protect the owners’ rights and to “fulfill fiduciary responsibilities” to lenders. He says an effort has to be made to collect rent. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says the threat to evict is illegal under an executive order issued in March.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-MIDWEST-PACT

7 Midwest states to partner on reopening the economy

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Seven Midwestern governors announced Thursday that they will coordinate on reopening their state economies, after similar pacts were made earlier this week in the Northeast and on the West Coast. Thursday’s announcement covers Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The governors say they will work with experts and take a “fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19.” All together, the 17 states covered by the three pacts are home to nearly half of the country’s population.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-PROTESTS

Pro-Trump protesters push back on stay-at-home orders

A growing number of protests are being staged across the U.S. to oppose stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. In places like Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia, small-government groups, supporters of President Donald Trump, anti-vaccine advocates and others have united behind a deep suspicion of efforts to shut down daily life to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As their frustration grows, they’ve started to openly defy the social distancing rules to put pressure on governors to ease them. Some of the protests have been small events, promoted via recently created Facebook groups. Others are backed by groups with ties to Trump.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-TRUMP POLITICS

Coronavirus could complicate Trump’s path to reelection

NEW YORK (AP) — The devastating coronavirus pandemic stands poised to reshape the political map this November. The virus has pummeled battleground states and alarmed Republicans who see early warning signs for an election that could be a referendum on President Donald Trump’s management of the crisis. The pandemic has killed more than 30,000 Americans and put millions out of work. It has also eviscerated the Trump campaign’s hope to run for reelection on the back of a strong economy and could tilt a series of states Trump won in 2016 toward the Democrats.  

FORD-SUPPLIER PLANT DAMAGED

Damage from twister threatens to disrupt Ford supply line

DETROIT (AP) — A South Carolina factory that makes a key transmission part for many of Ford’s most profitable vehicles was severely damaged by a tornado early Monday. Ford disclosed in a regulatory filing that the BorgWarner factory in Seneca makes transfer cases for F-Series pickup trucks, Ford Explorer and Expedition SUVs, Transit vans and the Lincoln Aviator and Navigator SUVs. Transfer cases shift power to a second drive shaft to run all-wheel-drive vehicles.  Ford says its equipment used to make the parts was not “materially damaged.” It’s not clear if the plant can be restarted in time to provide parts when Ford restarts U.S. factories that have been closed due to coronavirus concerns. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHERRY FEST

Annual cherry festival in Traverse City canceled for 2020

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City has been canceled for 2020 due to uncertainty over the coronavirus. It’s been a major northern Michigan summer destination for decades. Organizers said they’re not confident that it would be safe to gather during the first week of July. The event coincides with July 4 and is a major tourist draw. It features parades, fireworks, concerts, farm tours, a carnival midway and pie-eating contests. Area hotels are packed. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels put on an air show.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN UNEMPLOYMENT

1 million file for Michigan unemployment in a month

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An additional 219,000 people in Michigan filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number who have lost their jobs in the coronavirus pandemic to more than 1 million. That’s a staggering quarter of the state’s workforce. The initial claims were among 5.2 million nationally reported by the federal government Thursday. Michigan officials continue to urge patience as the state’s deluged unemployment system struggles to process claims filed online or by phone. Michigan is among 29 states that have started adding $600 to the weekly unemployment aid as provided under the federal government’s $2.2 trillion economic relief package.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN-PROTEST

Thousands protest Michigan governor’s social distance order

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Thousands of flag-waving, honking protesters drove past the Michigan Capitol to show their displeasure with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. They don’t like her orders to keep people at home and businesses locked during the coronavirus outbreak. The protest, called “Operation Gridlock,” was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition. Coalition member Meshawn Maddock said Whitmer’s orders are “just a disaster.” The governor said the rally threatened public health because protesters were close together without masks. Whitmer said the stay-at-home restrictions are necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Michigan’s cases rose about 4% to 28,059. Deaths from COVID-19 increased by 153 to 1,921.