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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

State scientist: Michigan virus numbers looking better

A state scientist says Michigan’s rate of new COVID-19 cases has been dropping for more than 29 days. The state last week reported its lowest weekly new case total — 28,072 — since the end of October. The state reported a record total — 50,892 — during Nov. 15-21. Sarah Lyon-Callo, head of the epidemiology bureau, says social distancing will be important during the holiday season. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s health department imposed a ban on indoor restaurant dining, in-person high school classes and other business restrictions. The dining ban remains in place through Jan. 15.

ELECTION 2020-MICHIGAN-THREATS

Woman charged in threats against Michigan election official

DETROIT (AP) — A woman has been charged with making threats against a Detroit-area Republican election official. The FBI says Monica Palmer received photos of a mutilated body, a day after after she had initially refused to certify local results in favor of Joe Biden. A criminal complaint was filed against Katelyn Jones. Monica Palmer chaired a raucous meeting of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Nov. 17. Palmer and a fellow Republican on the board initially refused to certify local election results, typically a routine step. They later changed their position. The FBI says Jones sent threats the next day from New Hampshire where she was staying with her mother.

HOLIDAY STORM

Winter storm in Dakotas, Minnesota make travel frightful

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A storm that began with snow, strong winds and bitter cold into the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota and began moving east was making travel treacherous and grounded flights on one of the most anticipated air travel days since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Blizzard warnings were posted in the region as National Weather Service officials called for wind chills to dip to 35 F (2 C) below zero, pushed by gusts of more than 60 mph (96.5 kph). Numerous travel advisories urged motorists to stay off the roads. The storm was centered in southeastern Minnesota and was expected to track steadily toward Eau Claire, Wisconsin and northern Michigan by Wednesday night. Flights were cancelled at airports from Fargo, North Dakota to the Twin Cities.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BUS TRIBUTE

School bus parade honors driver who died of COVID-19

CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) — Nearly two dozen school buses drove past the northern Michigan home of a beloved driver who died from COVID-19. It was a surprise tribute for Dale Wiersum’s wife. He was a driver for seven years in Cheboygan, a rural district where buses play a critical role in getting kids to school. His wife, Karen Wiersum, was overwhelmed when she saw the buses Tuesday. Karen was also given a folded Navy flag to honor Dale, who was a 69-year-old veteran. Karen says, “It was wonderful to have all those buses come through.”

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MAN CHARGED

Police: Detroit inmate freed because of virus shoots fiancée

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit man who was released early from prison because of the threat of COVID-19 has been charged with attempted murder in the shootings of his fiancée and her mother. Ronald Segars is accused of shooting them during a fight last week. Segars was serving a five-year sentence for drug and gun crimes when federal Judge Arthur Tarnow released him in June. Segars was told he could return to Detroit on supervised release, a form of probation. Segars had pledged to get a job and stay out of trouble. The judge also warned him to stay away from guns.

DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT

Court: Nassar won’t be resentenced despite judge’s remarks

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan appeals court says a judge who sentenced sports doctor Larry Nassar to 40 years in prison made “wholly inappropriate” remarks about him. But the court says they’re not enough to violate Nassar’s rights and upset the punishment for sexual assault. The appeals court notes that Judge Rosemarie Aquilina stuck to the sentencing agreement. Nassar was a doctor at Michigan State University and at USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. In 2018, Aquilina sentenced him to at least 40 years in prison after listening to more than 150 victims describe how he had molested them with his hands. The judge called Nassar a “monster” who is “going to wither” like the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”

FLINT WATER

Flint joins $641M deal to settle lawsuits over lead in water

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The Flint City Council has signed off on its portion of a $641 million settlement with residents of the poor, majority-Black Michigan city who were exposed to lead-tainted water. Flint’s insurer would kick in $20 million as part of a sweeping deal to settle lawsuits against Flint, the state of Michigan and other parties. The Flint council approved its stake early Tuesday after an hourslong meeting that raised concerns about whether residents were getting shortchanged. Most of the money — $600 million — is coming from the state of Michigan. State regulators allowed Flint to use the Flint River in 2014 and 2015 without treating the water to reduce corrosion. The disaster made Flint a nationwide symbol of governmental mismanagement.

FOOD AID-RESTAURANTS

Michigan to allow thousands on food aid to go to restaurants

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan residents who receive food assistance from the state can use their benefits at restaurants. The program could give a boost to restaurants that are prohibited from offering indoor dining because of coronavirus restrictions imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. The health department says more than 300,000 people will soon be able to use their Bridge Card to buy discounted meals at restaurants. Restaurants first must enroll with the health department, which will publish an online list. People who are eligible include those over 60 and people with a disability. 

AP-US-TRUMP-TOXIC-LEAD-PIPES

Critics say EPA allowing more time to fix lead-tainted water

The Trump administration has overhauled the country’s widely criticized, 29-year-old framework to eliminate toxic lead from drinking water. But critics charge that Tuesday’s rules give utilities far more time than before to replace old, lead-contaminated pipes and lines. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the final rule changes, saying they require more replacement of lead-contaminated water lines than ever before. But Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council says the changes give utilities up to two decades more to replace the worst-contaminated lines. The change comes six years after the Flint, Michigan, water crisis highlighted the dangers and regulatory failures surrounding lead-contaminated water systems.

WHITMER-WATER SHUTOFFS

Whitmer signs bill prohibiting water shutoffs through March

LANSING, Mich (AP) — Water shutoffs will be banned through March under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The law reinstates a moratorium that was ended by a Michigan Supreme Court opinion. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Stephanie Chang, says the state needs to ensure that during the coronavirus pandemic people have the ability to wash their hands to curb the spread. Whitmer says every resident deserves access to clean water. Detroit announced in early December that it would halt water shutoffs through 2022.