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Thursday, August 13: Latest developments on coronavirus in Michigan

Michigan reported 517 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, Aug. 12, and nine deaths.

In other coronavirus news: The Hispanic community makes up more than half of coronavirus cases in a Southwest Michigan county, Michigan school leaders in support of fall season say high school athletics are safer than college and a northern Michigan orchard sues Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to prevent shutting down the business.

Here’s all the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan going into Thursday, Aug. 13.

Michigan reports 517 new coronavirus cases and 9 deaths on Wednesday, Aug. 12

The state added 517 new coronavirus cases and nine more deaths related to the virus to its records on Wednesday.

That’s down considerably from the 796 cases reported Tuesday, a number that included 181 cases in the state’s prison system. Correctional facilities in Muskegon and Newberry are experiencing outbreaks, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. The MDOC had four new cases in Wednesday’s report.

Since the start of the pandemic, Michigan has tallied 89,271 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

There are currently 6,273 deaths attributed to COVID-19, in which patients tested positive for the virus. There also are 266 probable deaths, based on symptoms.

Health officials recommend looking at seven-day moving averages to evaluate data trends during the pandemic. The state now averaging 652 new cases, and six new deaths per day.

Hispanic community makes up more than half of coronavirus cases in Southwest Michigan county

Despite making up a relatively small part of the population, the Hispanic and Latino community is making up a majority of those in Van Buren County testing positive for coronavirus.

The local health department reported that there are four times the number of Hispanic or Latino cases than there are residents.

The Hispanic or Latino population made up 52% of Van Buren’s cumulative 416 cases, said Danielle Persky, director of Health Promotions for Van Buren/Cass District Health Department.

Van Buren’s population of 75,677 is 11.7% Hispanic or Latino, according to 2019 U.S Census data.

In Kalamazoo County, 14% of the county’s total 1,559 cases are among the Hispanic or Latino population. For comparison, Hispanic or Latino residents make up 5.2% of Kalamazoo County’s population.

Michigan school leaders in support of fall season say high school athletics are safer than college

As a former college baseball player and father of two college athletes, Geoff Bontrager is well-versed on the differing demands associated with high school athletics and those at the next level.

So when the Big Ten announced it was canceling its fall 2020 sports season due to health concerns related to the coronavirus crisis, the superintendent for Northwest Community Schools didn’t jump to the conclusion that his school district in Jackson would need to necessarily follow suit.

“Initially, you would think if college sports cancel, high school sports would cancel,” Bontrager said. “But the demands and travel on college athletes and high school athletes are apples and oranges. College sports are much more demanding on the athletes, as far as training and practices, and the travel schedules cross states not districts.”

Bontrager is one of more than a dozen school officials who told MLive they’re waiting for guidance from the Michigan High School Athletics Association before finalizing their plans to begin the 2020 fall season. That update is expected to come Thursday, Aug. 20.

Northern Michigan orchard sues Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to prevent shutdown of business

A northern Michigan orchard filed a Court of Claims lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Wednesday to prevent any administrative action that would effectively shut down its operation.

David Kallman, the same lawyer that represented Owosso barber Karl Manke in his successful litigation battle with the state, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Friske Orchard Farm Market of Antrim County near Charlevoix on Aug. 4, according to an Aug. 12 press release. The other defendants are the state’s Agriculture and Rural Development and Labor and Economic Opportunity departments and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

Friske Orchard Farm Market seeks injunctive relief on restrictions to its business to “ensure its business and employees have the opportunity to earn a living, and to protect itself from wrongful prosecutions by various state and local governmental agencies,” the lawsuit states.

The orchard and market defies Whitmer’s executive orders 2020-153 and 2020-161, which requires mask-wearing and following other COVID-19 mitigation guidelines. Richard Friske and his family, who own the market, allows customers to “make personal choices regarding their health,” according to the release.

The lawsuit claimed that Whitmer and state agencies are attempting to revoke business and health licenses for not adhering to executive orders. The Court of Claims ruled in June that the penalty for violating the orders is a misdemeanor, up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS

In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.

Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.

Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued executive orders requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. See an explanation of what that means here.

Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

For more data on COVID-19 in Michigan, visit https://www.mlive.com/coronavirus/data/.

Read more on MLive:

As coronavirus cases climb in Muskegon prison, families express fear and confusion

Letter from the Editor: Agonizing over school uncertainties? MLive is working for parents like you

People ignoring ‘the 3 W’s’ are contributing to coronavirus spike in Saginaw County


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