Coronavirus in Michigan: Day 62

State commission delays decision on Capitol gun ban

Only three COVID-19 cases tracked in Greater Lansing today


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MONDAY, May 11 — With another protest rumored to be in the works for Thursday, state officials delayed any decisions today on whether to ban firearms inside the Capitol building.

The Michigan Capitol Commission voted this morning to form a special committee that will study its power to ban guns inside the Capitol building. But officials adjourned from their virtual conference without making any formal decisions, reports the Detroit News.

Dozens of angry Michiganders, fueled by conspiracy theories and disinformation about the coronavirus, are promoting violence and mobilizing armed rallies against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Facebook, according to recent reports published in the Detroit Metro Times.

The next rally in Lansing is rumored to be scheduled for Thursday, officials said. And while the Michigan Capitol Commission continues to explore whether it can ban guns inside the Capitol, its delay ensures yet another opportunity for a violent episode as the protests continue.

According to reports in the Detroit Free Press, the unanimous 6-0 vote to form the committee came with questions being asked in the wake of an April 30 protest that saw several people bring guns into the Capitol and some lawmakers express concerns of intimidation on the job.

A five-member committee is now tasked with studying whether it can prohibit guns in tandem with Whitmer and other state legislative leaders. But without immediate restrictions in place, demonstrators will once again be able to haul their weapons inside the building this week.

“Threats of violence continue to escalate, yet the Capitol Commission delayed action on prohibiting firearms in the Capitol building,” State Rep. Sarah Anthony said on Twitter today. Anthony brought armed security with her to the Capitol last week after the recent protests.

A few hours before today’s meeting, Attorney General Dana Nessel sent a legal opinion stating that the Capitol Commission had authority to unilaterally ban guns. But the commission’s legal consultant, Amy Shaw, apparently disagreed during the meeting, reports the Detroit News.

Nessel, in her recent opinion, said the right to protest is important but also clarified that doesn’t include a “right to violence, or the right to harm those individuals with whom you disagree.” Lawmakers shouldn’t need to wear bulletproof vests or require armed escorts to vote, she said.

“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 press 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 violence 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 on the job.

The Capitol Commission is expected to explore the issue quickly and meet again next week. But the Legislature meets Thursday. And some lawmakers are concerned that adequate restrictions won’t be in place to protect them during another armed demonstration scheduled for this week.

Across Michigan...

Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian Begole said his deputies will not enforce Whitmer’s executive orders during the pandemic as an Owosso barber continues to cut hair, reports the Detroit News. Begole joins several other sheriffs across Michigan in ignoring the governor’s orders.

Whitmer has long said that she expects her orders to be followed and enforced across the state. Entrepreneurs that choose to continue to operate illegally — like the barber in Owosso — could lose their state businesses licenses, she declared at a press conference today.

Mackinac Island has pushed back its summer opening to late June, reports the Detroit Free Press. The Grand Hotel, for example, announced that it doesn't intend to open until June 21.

The Free Press reports that Ford Motor Co. is in the process of finalizing its plans to get factory production in North America back up and running by the end of May amid a push that will have all operations underway by June — its most profitable part of the year for automobile sales.

Military planes will fly over Michigan this week to salute frontline workers risking infection in the battle against COVID-19, reports MLive. Flyovers are planned in Detroit, as well as other displays in Marquette, Lansing, Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, MLive reports.

Central Michigan University officials announced detailed plans to reopen their campus by next fall for in-person classes with added social distancing precautions, CM Life reports. Limited physical offerings will be available in tandem with some online classes, officials explained.

In Greater Lansing…

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon is willing to give at least two Big John Steak & Onion restaurants in Lansing another chance to start following the governor’s orders before she pursues criminal charges for their employees’ repeated failure to wear face masks on the job.

Siemon had the Lansing Police Department serve a cease-and-desist letter to local Big John restaurants — and their corporate offices — after employees were found not wearing masks. Managers had told City Pulse that face coverings were optional, despite the state mandate.

Whitmer’s order requires customers and employees at restaurants, pharmacies, and grocery and convenience stores, to wear face coverings until May 29. Violations can be misdemeanors.

The extension also clearly requires checkout employees, like those tending drive-thru windows, to wear a form of covering over their nose and mouth as long as they can “medically tolerate” it. Businesses must also adopt social distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

A willful violation is a misdemeanor, though Nessel has advised the Lansing Police Department — the sole arbiters of the mask orders in the city — to start out with warnings, use discretion before ticketing, and consider any failed efforts to secure masks.

Siemon said another county official who checked on the Frandor location Sunday reported employees were wearing masks there.  Because they’ve fixed their practices, Siemon said she will not prosecute the company.

“I will continue working to ensure that you have a safe and healthy environment, and that the risks you face are managed and controlled as best as can be accomplished under these trying circumstances,” Siemon said in a statement posted to Facebook earlier this afternoon.

The Lansing City Council’s Committee of the Whole will meet for a virtual meeting at 5 p.m. today, followed immediately by a regular meeting of the full City Council at 7 p.m. Officials are expected to discuss the budgetary impact of COVID-19. Check back later for more coverage.

The East Lansing City Council has a special virtual meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow. The city’s Downtown Development Authority will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and noon on Thursday. The Election Commission will also meet virtually at 10 a.m. Thursday.

A virtual East Lansing Art Festival is scheduled for Saturday, which would normally be the opening day of the weekend-long event. A virtual Summer Solstice Jazz festival will also be offered June 19-20, featuring streaming video of past performances.

The East Lansing Farmers Market opens June 7 and operates Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 25 at Valley Court Park, 280 Valley Ct. Click here for additional market details.

The East Lansing Hannah Community Center and Prime Time Seniors’ Program remains closed through at least July 12 and all community center operations will remain suspended, including all previously scheduled events, classes, programs, services, rentals and reservations.

The East Lansing Family Aquatic Center will remain closed for the 2020 summer season.

An East Lansing Kids Camp is tentatively scheduled to begin July 13. The fitness center and swimming pool is tentatively scheduled to reopen on July 13 on a reservation-only basis. Meanwhile, all summer swimming classes are canceled through at least Aug. 3, officials said.

All outdoor playgrounds, sports courts, pavilions and picnic areas in East Lansing will remain closed through July 13. Community events programs — like the Summer Concert Series and Moonlight Film Festival — are slated to begin in July. Dates will be re-evaluated later this year.

In the numbers…

Only three cases of COVID-19 were tracked across Greater Lansing today, with no new deaths reported since Saturday. The regional death toll still stands at 33 with at least 866 confirmed cases reported across Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties in the last few months.

Michigan tracked at least another 415 coronavirus statewide cases this afternoon with another 33 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count past 47,500 with nearly 4,600 deaths.

State officials reported 25 new coronavirus-related deaths, the lowest single-day increase in deaths since March. The trend continues today with 33 new deaths reported from yesterday. The number of cases, however, has continued to rise with 382 yesterday and 415 more today.

Ingham County                       

Cases — 587

Recoveries — 214

Recovery Rate — 36.5%

Deaths — 17

Fatality Rate — 2.9%

As of yesterday, zip code 48911 tracks at least 161-170 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 71-80 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip codes 48906, 48854 and 48864 each track 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842 and 48912 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip code 48917 and 48895 each track between 11-20 cases. Zip codes 48840, 48285, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48909, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 1-10 cases.    

Eaton County                    

Cases — 151 (+1)

Recoveries — 111         

Recovery Rate — 73.5%       

Deaths — 6              

Fatality Rate — 4%          

Clinton County                                       

Cases — 128 (+2)       

Deaths — 10

Fatality Rate — 7.8%                                                

The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.                  


Cases — 47,552 (+415)

Recoveries — 22,686 (as of 5/8/20)               

Recovery Rate — 47.7%     

Deaths — 4,584 (+33)

Fatality Rate — 9.6%       

State reports show that about 67% 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 4.9% of cases, Genesee County with 3.7% of cases, Washtenaw County with 2.5% of cases, Saginaw County with 1.7% of cases, Kalamazoo County with 1.3% and Ingham County with 1.2% of cases statewide. About 4.5% of cases, or 2,139 cases (and 54 deaths) have also been reported among state prisoners at the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Caucasians account for 35% of cases and 49% of deaths reported in Michigan. Despite accounting for a substantially smaller segment of the statewide population, African Americans account for 32% of cases and 41% of deaths.     


Cases — 1,334,951

Deaths — 79,699

Fatality Rate — 5.9%  

Source: CNN              

Michigan still reports the seventh most cases in the country, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Michigan ranks fourth in virus-related deaths, behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.


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