Michigan News

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Officials have closed a parking lot at a Michigan state park after crowds of visitors ignored social distancing guidelines designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Grand Haven State Park’s parking lot was shut down on Sunday.

Photo provided by the State of Michigan

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun will provide an update regarding the state’s response efforts to COVID-19. 

You can watch it live here.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An additional 81,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment in Michigan last week, bringing the six-week total to more than 1.2 million amid the coronavirus pandemic. The number of new filings dropped for the second straight week, according to a federal report released Thursday. Michigan has had some of the highest number of jobless claims in the country. People can get benefits for about nine months, roughly three months longer than usual. They will receive an additional $600 a week through late July under the terms of a federal relief package.

Paul Sancya / AP / File

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Protesters are back at the Michigan Capitol to denounce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-home order and business restrictions. They're try to put pressure on Republican lawmakers who are meeting to consider extending Whitmer's coronavirus emergency declaration hours before it expires.

They Will Be Remembered: Michigan Residents Lost To COVID-19

Apr 30, 2020

Families and friends that have succumbed to COVID-19 in northern Michigan will live on forever in the memories of those who loved them. 

Every passing was a blow to the tight-knit communities throughout the region. 

Interlochen Public Radio spoke with loved ones and friends of three northern Michigan residents who died from coronavirus over the last several weeks. 

Michael Watson forever lending a helping hand

One of the first to pass away from COVID-19 in Michigan, was likely Michael Watson, of Gaylord.

AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Mark Copier


Photo provided by the State of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans who control the Michigan Senate are urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to lift her five-week-old ban on nonessential medical and dental procedures, saying the decision to resume should be left to hospitals and health providers. Tuesday's resolution is the latest move by Republicans pushing the Democrat to ease restrictions she adopted to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Whitmer, who says social distancing is saving lives, wants legislators to extend an emergency declaration by 28 days.

Roadblock To Reopening Michigan Economy - Child Care

Apr 26, 2020

A new report suggests restarting Michigan’s economy will face a serious roadblock – a lack of child care.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children estimates that 41% of Michigan’s licensed child care slots will be lost....as many providers don’t have the money or staff to reopen.

Simon Workman is the director of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress. 

He says many child care operators were barely breaking even before the pandemic...

Michigan Dept. of Corrections


COLDWATER, Mich. (AP) — A 12th inmate has died from COVID-19 complications at a southern Michigan prison where more than 50% of inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. Lakeland prison in Branch County has a large share of Michigan's older prisoners and is the first to test everyone. The Corrections Department said 785 of roughly 1,400 prisoners at Lakeland have tested positive. Only a fraction of all prisoners have been tested statewide, but the infection rate was 56%. There has been at least 33 deaths. Separately, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to try to force the release of immigrants with health problems at the Calhoun County jail. They're being held there by federal immigration authorities.

Michigan Lawmaker Apologizes For Wearing Questionable Mask

Apr 25, 2020

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker has apologized for wearing a face mask that appeared to depict the Confederate flag during a vote at the state Capitol.

Republican state Sen. Dale Zorn of Ida said in a statement Saturday he was sorry for his "choice of pattern" on the face mask he wore the day before.

He says he didn't "intend to offend anyone" and that "those who know me best know that I do not support the things this pattern represents.

The face covering was a red mask with blue stripes and white stars. He says his wife made it.


Chicago Businessman Buys Indiana Beach Amusement Park

Apr 24, 2020
Patrick McGarvey/Flickr

MONTICELLO, Ind. (AP) — A Chicago businessman has bought a northern Indiana amusement park that abruptly closed in February and hopes to reopen the 94-year-old tourist destination's rides and other attractions this summer if coronavirus restrictions allow. White County Commissioner John Heimlich said Thursday that Gene Staples purchased Indiana Beach before its former owner, California-based Apex Parks Group, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 8.

Gov. Whitmer Extends Michigan's Stay-At-Home Order

Apr 24, 2020
Photo provided by State of Michigan


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has lengthened her stay-at-home order through May 15 while relaxing restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in more outdoor activities like golf and motorized boating. The measure is designed to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. It immediately replaces one that was scheduled to expire next week. The Democratic governor's order says people are now required to face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores if they can medically tolerate it. Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops can resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules. Big-box retailers no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling paint and carpet.

Michigan Food Banks Running Low, State Calls For Donations

Apr 23, 2020
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Businesses around Michigan are being urged to donate food to the Food Bank Council of Michigan and other nonprofits to help restock food pantries struggling to meet demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The Detroit News reports that demand is rising and food banks are operating at four times their normal capacity. The council also likely won’t receive food through a federal program until July.

Republicans Vow To Cut Gov. Whitmer's Emergency Powers

Apr 23, 2020
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans who control the Legislature want to dilute the power of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. They say they'll meet Friday to pass bills to rein in Whitmer's emergency powers and create a committee to oversee the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Republicans are unhappy with the breadth of Whitmer's stay-at-home order, though polling shows the public believes she's made the right calls. Whitmer is expected to extend it past April 30 but with modifications.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she likely will extend her stay-at-home order beyond April 30 even if she relaxes restrictions to reopen parts of the economy. Whitmer said Wednesday that she hopes to talk more later this week about loosening the rules.

Michigan  has notified state employees of temporary layoffs necessitated by a drop in tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state will furlough 2,900, or less than 1%, of the 48,000-person workforce for two weeks to save about $5 million.

Photo provided by the State of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says President Donald Trump’s plan to suspend immigration is distracting from efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and part of “inconsistent messages” that scare people and put the public in greater danger.

The Democrat told The Associated Press Tuesday that pronouncements about immigration policy now are “scary” for immigrants, those hoping to immigrate and others.

This weekend Gov. Whitmer made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to talk about her concerns surrounding the lack of adequate COVID-19 testing as it relates to being able to reopen the economy. Whitmer is holding a news conference today at 3pm.  

You can watch it live here. 

Photo Provided by State of Michigan

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will provide an update regarding the state’s response efforts to COVID-19.   

You can watch it live here. 

AP Photo/John L. Russell

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.

219,000 Additional Unemployment Claims Filed In Michigan

Apr 16, 2020
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

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.


AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan will offer cash-strapped bars and restaurants relief by buying back their liquor inventory during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an order late Monday authorizing the program.

She also is delaying the expiration of valid driver’s licenses and state ID cards.

And she is extending a measure to keep intact a prohibition against dine-in service at restaurants and to continue the closure of many places of public ccommodation through April 30.

Michigan's Website For Filing For Unemployment Goes Down

Apr 13, 2020
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s unemployment website and other online services are down. Monday is the first day self-employed workers and independent contractors can start filing claims for benefits under a federal aid package enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic. A spokesman for the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget says state networks and applications are experiencing “performance issues” causing some online services to be temporarily unavailable. Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has been deluged by people seeking benefits.

Michigan Officials Seek Workers For Local May 5 Elections

Apr 11, 2020
Jennifer Weingart/WVPE

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.

Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

Businesses in Michigan are not required to provide paid parental leave to employees. As part of the weekly series MichMash… Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher speak with Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist about his efforts to change that.

Nearly 385,000 More File Unemployment Claims In Michigan

Apr 9, 2020
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A record 384,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment in Michigan last week amid continued punishing economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 800,000 sought jobless benefits over the past three weeks, according to figures released Thursday.

The state’s 3.6% unemployment rate could top 15% when the April employment report is released in early May.

The state has been overwhelmed by a flood of applications, and some of those out of work have had trouble applying online or by phone.

AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (AP) — A nursing home resident in western Michigan who died from COVID-19 complications repeatedly asked her Amazon Echo for help with pain.

LouAnn Dagen died Saturday after arriving at Mercy Health St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids.

Her sister, Penny Dagen, discovered recordings and shared them with WOOD-TV.

LouAnn Dagen was 66 years old and lived at Metron of Cedar Springs. Penny Dagen said her sister was getting medicine to help with pain.

She said LouAnn was taken to the hospital when her oxygen and blood pressure dropped.

Number Of Michigan Unemployment Applicants Spikes

Apr 7, 2020
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Nearly 800,000 people have filed for unemployment benefits in Michigan since mid-March.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday detailed the stunning impact of the coronavirus on the state’s economy.

Only businesses deemed essential remain open and Whitmer says her stay-at-home order will be extended in the coming days.

She says more people have applied for unemployment aid in the last two weeks than in all of 2019, when the jobless rate was below 4%.

Rafi Wilkinson via AP

DETROIT — Officials in Michigan are warning that efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic could have a serious impact on relief and repairs during what is expected to be another tumultuous spring flooding season

Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

The auto industry is making an effort to manufacture the medical supplies and equipment desperately needed during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about what that effort actually looks like.



DOWAGIAC, Mich. (AP) — Cardboard cutout wedding guests will make for a not-so-cookie-cutter wedding as a Michigan couple prepares to tie the knot during the coronavirus pandemic.

After Amy Simonson and Dan Stuglik’s wedding plans were disrupted amid the outbreak, a packaging company donated more than 100 cardboard cutouts to pose as stand-ins for the family and friends who couldn’t attend the wedding this Saturday because of Michigan’s stay-at-home order.