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VIRUS OUTBREAK-NURSING HOME DEATHS Michigan auditors report 2,400 more long-term care deaths LANSING, Mich.


Michigan auditors report 2,400 more long-term care deaths

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan auditors have found nearly 2,400 additional COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities over an 18-month period, both at places that report coronavirus deaths to the state and homes that don't. The figure was disclosed in a review obtained by The Associated Press on Friday before its public release next week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration disputes the report's methodology and conclusions. Auditors reported 8,061 confirmed or positive coronavirus deaths tied to nursing homes, homes for the aged and adult foster-care facilities as of early July. The difference between that number and what the state health department reported, 5,675, is nearly 30%.


Suspended professor made salty video to get 'juices flowing'

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan professor who was suspended after making a profanity-filled introductory video for his students says it was simply a humorous attempt “to get their juices flowing.” Barry Mehler teaches history at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Mehler was placed on leave after the school president said he was “shocked and appalled” by the video. In the video, Mehler covered a range of topics, including grades, attendance, plagiarism, COVID-19 and the HBO series “Deadwood.” He says he randomly assigns grades before the first day of class because that's how “predestination works.” Mehler also called students “vectors of disease,” a reference to COVID-19.


Michigan AG asks feds to investigate fake GOP electors

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s attorney general is asking federal prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into 16 Republicans who submitted false certificates stating they were the state’s presidential electors despite Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in 2020. Democrat Dana Nessel disclosed that her office has been evaluating charges for nearly a year but decided Thursday to refer the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office in western Michigan. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Friday and the Michigan GOP had no immediate comment. In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Nessel alleged a “coordinated effort” among Republican parties in several battleground states including Michigan to illegally push so-called alternate slates of electors with fake documents.


Michigan revenues are $5.8B higher than previously forecast

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s two main funds will take in billions more that previously forecast — good news for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and lawmakers before the budget cycle. The combined additional tax revenues over the last, current and next fiscal year are more than $5.8 billion above projections from last spring. State budget director Christopher Harkins said Friday that the governor in coming weeks will present a spending plan that is focused on supporting education, clean water and jobs. Fiscal experts attribute the latest surplus largely to federal pandemic relief aid that has helped to boost incomes and consumer spending despite COVID-19.


Soo Locks to close to marine traffic for winter maintenance

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie are shutting down to marine traffic to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform maintenance. The Army Corps of Engineers says the locks on the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron are expected to be closed from Saturday to March 25. The complex consists of several locks that raise and lower vessels between Superior and Huron. Winter months are used for maintenance each year. Work this winter is expected to include hydraulic steel structure inspections and preventive maintenance on electrical and mechanical systems. More than 4,500 vessels, carrying up to 80 million tons of cargo, use the locks each year.


Michigan to get $563M to fix, maintain highway bridges

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — More than $563 million in federal dollars is heading to Michigan to fix and maintain highway bridges. The Transportation department says Friday that the funding is from the Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program and will help repair about 1,240 bridges considered to be in poor condition. Improvements also will be made to more than 5,950 bridges deemed to be in fair condition. Roughly 15,000 highway bridges across the United States are to be repaired and upgraded as part of the five-year $27 billion program through the infrastructure law approved in November. It will be administered by the Federal Highway Administration.


State disputes report showing 42% more long-term care deaths

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is disputing the methodology and conclusions in a pending report that is expected to say there were thousands more coronavirus-related deaths tied to long-term care facilities in Michigan than reported by the state. Auditors plan to release their review next week, but the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services sought to publicly preempt it. In a letter written Sunday and released Wednesday, director Elizabeth Hertel referenced “serious concerns” to the state auditor's office — including with its plan to combine COVID-19 deaths at facilities that are subject to state or federal reporting requirements and those that aren't.


US Customs: Marijuana, ammunition seizures up in Michigan

DETROIT (AP) — Seizures of marijuana and ammunition at Michigan’s border with Canada have increased over the past year or so despite travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Detroit Field Office for U.S. Customs and Border Protection says Thursday that marijuana confiscated last year was up nearly 2,800% from fiscal year 2019. Fiscal year 2021 enforcement statistics show more than 14,000 pounds of marijuana, 240 pounds of cocaine, more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine and nearly three pounds of fentanyl were seized at ports of entry into Michigan. The Detroit Field Office's responsibilities include the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit Windsor Tunnel in Detroit and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.


Michigan professor on leave after bizarre video about grades

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan professor has been placed on leave after he told students in a profanity-laced video that he randomly assigns grades before the first day of class. Barry Mehler is a 74-year-old instructor at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. He told students in the video: “I don’t even want to know your name. I just look at the number and assign a grade. That is how predestination works. ... Take your complaints to God." In the 14-minute video, Mehler calls students “vectors of disease” and says they don't need to attend class in person. Ferris State says Mehler is on leave while his conduct is investigated. 


Detroit-area judge suspended for six months for misconduct

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area judge has been suspended without pay for six months for using crass and sexual language while discussing a trial with two female prosecutors. The Michigan Supreme Court says Wayne County Judge Bruce Morrow committed misconduct. But the court ordered a shorter penalty than the 12-month suspension recommended by the Judicial Tenure Commission. Among the allegations, Morrow tried to guess the weight of two prosecutors. He also used sexual language when discussing trial testimony with the prosecutors and a defense attorney away from the jury. Morrow's attorneys say asking someone their weight might be impolite but is not judicial misconduct.

The Associated Press