Breaking Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EST
VIRUS OUTBREAK – MICHIGAN
8 Michigan counties drop orders requiring masks in schools
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Eight Michigan counties are dropping masking requirements for schools and daycares, indicating a sharp drop in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and the ability of many children to get vaccinated. The announcements from Oakland County, Washtenaw County and six northern Michigan counties come a day after Ingham County lifted its mandate. Orders will end from February 18 or February 28. Local health officials strongly recommend masking in indoor public places, including educational institutions. Schools will decide if they still require masks. Wayne County, which includes Detroit, is the only county without a plan to revoke its mandate.
Canadian judge orders end of border bridge blockade
WINDSOR, Ont. (AP) — A Canadian judge has ordered protesters at the Ambassador Bridge over the U.S.-Canada border to end the 5-day-old blockade that has disrupted the flow of goods between the two countries and forced the auto industry on both sides to roll back production. It’s not immediately clear when or if law enforcement officers will be dispatched to evict the protesters, who parked their vans and other vehicles to protest the country’s COVID-19 restrictions and a wave of fury at the prime minister. Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government.
Voting and ballots on payday loans advance in Michigan
DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Ballot campaigns to expand voting options, restrict payday loans and overhaul Michigan’s citizens’ initiative process have moved through procedural steps. Organizers will soon begin collecting the signatures needed to cast the vote. Promote the Vote wants to create more than one week of early voting and allow all voters to request a mail-in ballot for future elections. Michiganders for Fair Lending wants to reduce interest rates charged by payday lenders. The Michigan Election Commission also procedurally authorized a different voting rights initiative and a measure to eliminate lawmakers’ ability to pass some ballots without the governor’s signature. Another initiative would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.
AP-US-BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
Study: Fewer accidents after Utah establishes strictest DUI law in the United States
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Officials say car crashes and road deaths plummeted in Utah after the state enacted the nation’s toughest drunk driving laws. A study released Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests Utah’s roads have become safer after the state lowered the drink-driving threshold to 0.05 percent BAC. Accident and death rates have dropped in neighboring states, but not as significantly as in Utah. In a state where politics is heavily influenced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the findings are a victory for lawmakers who argued the change was about safety, not religion. The state has lowered the threshold on objections from the tourism industry.
EXPLAINER: A look at what’s behind the protests in Canada
TORONTO (AP) — For five days, a blockade of pickup trucks, cars and a handful of commercial trucks has choked off traffic at the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest border crossing between Canada and the United States. There are also blockages at two other crossings. And for two weeks, the streets of downtown Canada’s capital have been packed with a convoy of tractor-trailers and other vehicles as protesters rail against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Much of this can be linked to anger at Trudeau, a Liberal Party politician who has served as prime minister since 2015 and is hated by many conservatives.
US urges Canada to use federal powers to end bridge blockages
TORONTO (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to use its federal powers to end a blockade of trucks by Canadians protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions that are tightening the screws of the auto industry, forcing Ford, General Motors and other automakers to close plants or cut production on both sides of the US border. The bumper-to-bumper demonstration entered its fourth day Thursday at the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ont., to Detroit. It disrupts the flow of auto parts and other products across the border.
Deaf musicians take part in Super Bowl halftime for the first time
The Super Bowl will include a spectacular halftime show, as usual. Some of the biggest names in hip-hop will entertain the masses while the championship contending teams take a break. For the first time, two of the performers are deaf. Dr. Dre added deaf stars Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes to Sunday’s lineup which also includes Eminem and Snoop Dogg. Wawa and Forbes will use their hands, bodies and facial expressions to deliver unique renditions of American Sign Language songs as the superstars sing on stage in an inclusive and accessible show.
HATCHET ATTACK – POLICE SHOOTING
Deputy shoots, kills man who attacked another with a hatchet
ELLIS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — State police say a northern Michigan sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a man who attacked another deputy with a hatchet. Police say a Cheboygan County sheriff’s deputy responding to a domestic disturbance at a home in Ellis Township shot the 32-year-old suspect after hitting another deputy with the hatchet. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His name has not been disclosed. The MP received non-life threatening injuries. He was taken to hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale Clarmont released a statement saying “deputies responded in accordance with department policy and training.
Man convicted of shooting comatose Monroe officer
MONROE, Mich. (AP) — A Ypsilanti man was sentenced Thursday to serve 25 to 50 years in prison under a plea deal for a shooting that injured a Monroe police officer and put her in a coma . Kordney McDonald, 21, did not contest charges in November of assault with intent to murder, carjacking and assault/resisting a police officer causing serious impairment. Cpl. Renae Peterson was shot dead on a busy street in Monroe on May 24, 2020, while investigating a carjacking. Two bullets hit Peterson under his body armor. Monroe County District Attorney Michael Roehrig said she underwent numerous surgeries and spent 17 days in a coma.
VIRUS OUTBREAK – MICHIGAN
Ingham lifts school mask mandate; other counties may follow
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Ingham County is lifting indoor mask requirements at Lansing-area schools and colleges starting Feb. 19, citing a drop in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. Other Michigan counties could follow suit in the coming days, leaving schools to decide whether or not to mandate masks. Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail points to a 78% drop in the county’s case rate over two weeks and the fact that more children in the area are being vaccinated than in the rest of Michigan. Vail urges schools to maintain strict masking policies, especially in areas with significant or high levels of transmission.