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FRIDAY, May 8 — Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel said the Michigan State Capitol Commission has the legal authority to prohibit firearms inside the State Capitol, if it chooses to do so, to adequately “ensure the safety” of lawmakers and the public, according to a letter sent today.
“The Capitol is a place for free expression of thought and debate. But the freedom of civil discourse does not imply the right to threaten others with harm or violence,” Nessel said in a release. “In our current environment and as the chief law enforcement officer in this state, I am gravely concerned for the safety of both our legislative members and the public at large.”
The “only way” to assure that a “violent episode” doesn’t occur is to act in concert with many other state legislatures across the nation that have banned firearms in their legislative facilities, Nessel added, noting that lawmakers should be able to speak freely without fear of violence.
However, the commission’s vice chairman said the commission may not agree with Nessel.
“Right now,” it’s just an informal letter, the way we view it.” John Truscott told The Detroit News. “We do have information to the contrary as well.”
“The letter arrived days after state Rep. Sarah Anthony brought an armed cadre of local citizens to better ensure her safety after multiple protests on the Capitol lawn within recent weeks. She told City Pulse today that she’s “making some headway” on having guns banned in the building.
The commission meets on Monday to discuss the possible prohibition in greater detail.
In Greater Lansing…
The Ingham County Health Department is monitoring a newly detected and heavily concentrated outbreak of COVID-19 among the Asian community within a large swath of south Lansing. It’s also the county’s statistical epicenter for the virus with nearly 160 cases.
Zip code 48911 — a section of mostly south Lansing — for weeks has tracked more cases of the coronavirus than any other portion of Ingham County. This week, County Health Officer Linda Vail made an alarming discovery: That outbreak is centered on the local Asian population.
Recent statistics show that 158 confirmed coronavirus cases — or about 28% of the cases in the county — have been detected in 48911. At least 74 of those patients, or about 47% of cases in that zip code, have been identified as Asian. Vail said the recent racial disparity was shocking.
Despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s mandate that all employees wear face coverings, not a single employee at three Big John Steak & Onion restaurants in Lansing wore one yesterday afternoon. Calls to corporate were not returned, but managers said masks there are optional.
The Common Ground music festival has been postponed to July 9-10, 2021, due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, according to reports in the Lansing State Journal. This will be the first summer in 21 years that Common Ground has not been held in downtown Lansing.
Despite the cancellation of the in-person 57th annual East Lansing Art Festival, officials there have planned a new, online version of the festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 16. It will feature musical performances, artist demonstrations, live artist awards and much more.
A judge will hear oral arguments Friday on a lawsuit filed by the state Legislature asking her to declare invalid Whitmer’s emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the Detroit Free Press. Those will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 15.
Michigan's largest restaurant trade group urged Whitmer to allow restaurants to reopen their dining rooms on May 29, according to reports in the Detroit Free Press. A date hasn’t been set, but Whitmer previously vetoed legislation that would’ve enabled those businesses to reopen.
Food and Agriculture companies are now eligible for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan and EIDL Advance programs. Qualified businesses with fewer than 500 employees that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to prepare their business financial information and apply. Visit sba.gov/disaster for more details.
In the numbers…
At least 15 cases of COVID-19 were tracked across Greater Lansing today, including two more virus-related deaths in Ingham County that were included in the latest report from the state. The regional death toll now stands at 32 with at least 845 cases across the local tri-county area.
Michigan tracked at least another 680 coronavirus statewide cases earlier this afternoon with another 50 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count past 46,000 with nearly 4,400 deaths.
Cases — 566 (+9)
Recoveries — 208
Recovery Rate — 36.7%
Deaths — 16 (+2)
Fatality Rate — 2.8%
Zip code 48911 tracks 151-160 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 61-70 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip codes 48854 and 48864 each track 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842, 48912 and 48906 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip code 48917 tracks between 11-20 cases. Zip codes 48840, 48895, 48285, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48909, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 1-10 cases. This data is updated on a daily basis.
Cases — 153 (+6)
Recoveries — 108
Recovery Rate — 70.6%
Deaths — 6
Fatality Rate — 3.9%
Cases — 126
Deaths — 10
Fatality Rate — 7.9%
The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.
Cases — 46,326 (+680)
Recoveries — 15,659 (as of 5/1/20)
Recovery Rate — 33.8%
Deaths — 4,393 (+50)
Fatality Rate — 9.5%
State reports show that about 68% of cases (and 80% of deaths) are reported from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Other hotspots include Kent County with 4.6% of cases, Genesee County with 3.8% of cases, Washtenaw County with 2.5% of cases, Saginaw County with 1.7% of cases, Ingham County with 1.2% of cases and Kalamazoo County with 1.2% of cases statewide. About 4.6% of cases, or 2,124 cases (and 50 deaths) have also been reported among state prisoners at the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Caucasians account for 35% of cases and 49% of deaths. Despite accounting for a smaller segment of the population, African Americans account for 32% of cases and 41% of deaths.
Cases — 1,279,546
Deaths — 76,706
Fatality Rate — 6%
As of this afternoon, Michigan still has reported the seventh most cases in the country, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Michigan also ranks fourth in most virus-related deaths, behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.