Local News Archives

Michigan COVID-19 Cases At 4,650 With 111 Deaths

A big jump is being reported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in COVID-19 cases statewide. The new figures released Saturday show an increase of 993 cases to 4,650. An additional 19 have died, bringing that total to 111. In southwest Michigan, Allegan County has gone from 1 to 2 cases; Berrien from 18 to 22; Cass from 1 to 2; Kalamazoo from 11 to 15; and Van Buren County’s number is up from 3 to 4 from Friday. There remain no confirmed cases in St. Joseph County. No one has died from coronavirus in southwest Michigan to date, and the Berrien County Health Department says three of the people in the county who tested positive have fully recovered.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Seeking Funds, Supplies

With many Michiganders sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is looking for some extra help. It says shelter life has been rough during the pandemic, and its animals need support. The organization notes it has its own particular set of challenges right now, needing resources for supplies, medicine, utilities, staffing, and more. It’s launched a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to collect $30,000 to get through the coronavirus. As of Friday afternoon, the organization had raised $2,250. You can find it right here. The Human Society also needs items like bleach, paper towels, laundry detergent, floor cleaner, postage stamps, and Lysol. They’ve got donation bins outside the shelter on M-139 in Royalton Township.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Home Sales Down In February, Prices Up

Home sales in southwest Michigan were down in February, although prices were up. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says the number of houses sold in February of this year dropped to 181 from 235 in February of 2019 for a 23% decrease. However, the average selling price was up 12% over the same period. Meanwhile, the median price soared 30%. With fewer houses sold, the total dollar volume, even with higher selling prices, was down 14% in February. The association says housing inventory was down 2% from February of 2019, while the percentage of sold homes that were foreclosures remained the same as January at 7% overall.. ...Read Full Story

State Confirms More Than 800 New Cases Of COVID-19

The number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan rose by 801 from Thursday to Friday. The latest numbers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also show 32 new deaths. The state’s total number of cases as of Friday afternoon was 3,657. It’s had 92 deaths. Berrien County has seen seven new cases, now with 18 total. Van Buren County has one new case, bringing its total to three. Cass County has one. The city of Detroit is listed as having 1,075 cases of COVID-19 with 23 deaths. Oakland County has 824 with 26 deaths, and Wayne County, which is being counted separately from Detroit, has 735 with 14 deaths. The cases are divided about equally between men and women, while men account for 65% of the deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Speaks In Favor Of Stimulus Bill

Congressman Fred Upton took to the U.S. House floor on Friday to urge his colleagues to approve the COVID-19 stimulus bill. The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act would send checks of at least $1,200 to every American adult, bail out airlines, provide financial aid to small businesses, and expand unemployment benefits, among other things. Upton said the coronavirus crisis warrants major action.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Department Of Health and Human Services Revising COVID-19 Reporting

Changes are being made to how the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reports COVID-19 cases in the state. Starting today, they will no longer give updates of new cases by county, and instead will offer a map illustrating case density by county. Cumulative cases and deaths will still be broken down county-by-county, however. The reporting time is also moving an hour later in the day from 2 to 3 p.m., as there have been several times in the past week where the release of the numbers has been delayed. Health officials add information regarding the pandemic is changing rapidly, and remind Michiganders the most recent information can be found at Michigan.gov/coronavirus and at CDC.gov/coronavirus.. ...Read Full Story

Meijer No Longer Accepting Any Returned Merchandise Due To COVID-19

If you have something from Meijer that needs to be taken back, you’ll need to put it aside for a while. The retailer is no longer taking returns of any sort due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that will last until April 16 at the earliest. Meijer has already stopped accepting bottle and can returns. The new change keeps customer service desks open, but only for postal services, lottery sales, and Western Union services. Also suspended are rentals of carpet cleaners and power washers and exchanges for Soda Stream carbonation containers. Customers who currently have the rental cleaning equipment are being asked to hold on to it until the health crisis eases. Meijer is extending the window for returns to 120 days to accomodate any receipts that would have expired during the suspension.. ...Read Full Story

Niles History Center Offering Virtual Tours

The Niles History Center is offering virtual tours while the COVID-19 crisis continues. It says it’s making the resource available so people can continue to learn about local history even while safe in their homes. The center has put up historical photos, videos, and other information on its Facebook page and is planning virtual tours of the historic Chapin Museum. During the closure of the Niles History Center, staff are working on collection inventory and updating the storage areas and first floor exhibits. Work at the Historic Chapin Mansion and Fort St. Joseph Museum is proceeding on schedule. The Niles History Center has put up videos of virtual field trips at its website and YouTube channel.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Suspending Burn Permits

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is suspending burn permits around the state. DNR fire supervisor Dan Laux says emergency response resources need to be kept available for other priorities at this time. He also says the order protects firefighters who often work closely together on scene and when traveling to and from incident locations. The decision to hold off on allowing burns has the support of the state fire marshal. Open burning in some parts of the state may still be allowed in areas where the ground is snow-covered.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Coronavirus Cases Up Sharply Again To 2,856

There are another 561 people in Michigan who have tested positive for COVID-19. The new number of cases in the state is now 2,856, with 60 deaths. Metro Detroit remains the state’s epicenter, with 2,404 cases total in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. That region has also recorded 52 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. Cass County is one of the new additions to the list, as that county’s first case has been confirmed. St. Joseph County is now the only area of southwest Michigan where no one has tested positive for the illness. Berrien County has 11 people who have tested positive, and Van Buren County has two. The state is again releasing the number of tests that have been done. As of Wednesday afternoon, which does not reflect today’s spike in cases, there had been 9,109 people tested with 6,550 of those coming back negative.. ...Read Full Story

Arson, Attempted Murder Charges Faced By Ohio Woman For Lincoln Twp Mobile Home Fire

An Ohio woman is in the Berrien County Jail, accused of setting a mobile home on fire in Lincoln Township. Firefighters and police were called to The Spring Lake Mobile Home Park on West John Beers Road around 10:30 Wednesday night. The fire had been put out by the time they arrived. The 28-year-old suspect had taken off before the officers and firefighters got to the scene, but she was found a short time later and arrested. Police say she’s related to the home’s occupants and had driven there due to a family dispute, which caused her to allegedly start the fire. No one was hurt, and damage is estimated at around $7,000.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Strawberry Festival Canceled

The Hartford Strawberry Festival has been canceled for this year. The event at Ely Park in Hartford was slated for the second weekend in June, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, organizers thought it best to take a year off. The Strawberry Festival Committee made the decision this week. If you’re looking to stay up to date on what’s planned for the future, you can check out the Facebook page of the Hartford Strawberry Festival.. ...Read Full Story

Cell Phone Data Shows Michiganders Are Social Distancing

Based on cellphone data, Michiganders are heeding the suggestions to keep away from each other and stay home. The Social Distancing Scorecard by the firm Unacast give the state a grade of “A” for following what we’re being asked as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Broken down by county, Cass and Kalamazoo counties are doing the best in southwest Michigan with an “A,” while Allegan and Berrien counties get a “B,” and St. Joseph and Van Buren counties look to have more work to do with “C” grades. Overall, the firm finds a 42% drop in distance traveled by Michigan residents since the coronavirus pandemic brought about the suggestions for social distancing that were later followed this week by Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Expecting Extension Of School Closures Soon

The closure of all K-12 schools in Michigan is halfway through its second week, and there are starting to be expectations it will go on longer than first announced. Governor Whitmer ordered the schools closed for three weeks as part of her strategy for social distancing and to try to slow down the spread of coronavirus. In an automated phone call to district parents Wednesday, St. Joseph Public Schools superintendent Dr. Thomas Bruce says they will receive guidance soon from the governor’s office regarding the length of the shutdown, and he expects it will be extended. The governor was asked about the possibility of canceling the rest of the school year last week, but said it was too early to address that idea. Kansas has already ended the school year, and Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Education this week urging the same action for this state.. ...Read Full Story

Coronavirus Cases In Michigan Rise To 2,295

The number of coronavirus cases in Michigan is now 2,295. The Department of Health and Human Services says 43 people have died, almost double the total from Tuesday. Berrien County now has 10 cases, up from 8. Van Buren County has two cases after reporting their first this morning. There are 5 in Kalamazoo County and one in Allegan County. No one has tested positive for COVID-19 as yet in Cass or St. Joseph counties. The vast majority of the cases are in the metro Detroit area.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township Shooting Under Investigation

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating a shooting at a party store on Tuesday evening. It says the incident happened at the Quik Way Party Store at 105 South Fair Avenue around 8 p.m. Officers were called to Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital on a report of a man with a gunshot wound, and found the 22-year-old had been hit in the upper leg. He told police he was leaving the store when he saw some men arguing and then heard shots. The victim said he was hit with a bullet as he drove away from the scene. From there, he took himself to the hospital. Police found evidence of the shooting in the store parking lot, but have not yet located a suspect. The victim’s injury is non-life threatening. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Twin City Players Cancels Rest Of The Season

The Twin City Players have announced the cancellation of the remainder of their season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The players say the decision comes following federal, state and CDC recommendations to reduce social gatherings in an attempt to curb the spread of the illness. TCP Board President Kraig Kirkdorfer says it was a difficult decision, but the theater group must put the safety and health of patrons and members first. The cancellation affects two shows. They are The Women of Lockerbie, which had been set for March 20 through April 5, and Fun Home, which was to have taken place from June 5 through June 28. The Twin City Players are now working on reaching ticket holders and those with season passes. They’re hoping patrons will simple donate the cost of their ticket as the organization says it’s taken a significant financial hit as a result of the cancellations. Twin City Players say they continue to plan for the 2020-2021 season, which is slated to start in September.. ...Read Full Story

Dial A Ride Open, But Advises Only Necessary Travel

The Twin Cities Area Transportation Authority, or Dial A Ride, says it remains open, but it’s urging riders to only use the bus service when it’s absolutely necessary for trips to work for essential service providers, to pick up food or prescriptions, or to travel to emergency medical appointments not related to COVID-19. Dial A Ride offers three fixed routes as well as on demand response service in the Twin Cities area. Dial A Ride Director Paul Gillespie says the organization is committed to providing service as long as it’s safe for passengers and drivers. He says Dial A Ride urges people to stay at home and heed the warnings to avoid unnecessary travel. Anyone who is sick or showing signs of respiratory illness should not take the buses or any public transportation.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Coronavirus Cases At Nearly 1,800

There’s another sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the state. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the number now stands at 1,791 with 24 deaths. In southwest Michigan, one case is in Allegan County, eight cases are in Berrien County, with three in Kalamazoo County. Cass, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties remain without any confirmed COVID-19 cases. Kent and Ottawa counties numbers are up, with 31 in Kent and 15 in Ottawa.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Schools Superintendent Wants School Year To End Now

End the school year now. That’s the plea from Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti to the Michigan Department of Education. In a letter, Vitti says there are too many questions about how things will proceed once the three-week shutdown of K-12 schools around the state is over in April. He wants measures put in place for seniors to be able to have enough credits to earn their diplomas and for 8th graders to have what they need to advance to high school in the fall.. ...Read Full Story

City Of Benton Harbor Buildings Now Closed To The Public

The city of Benton Harbor is the latest municipality in the area to close its offices to the public. The closure took effect today and will be in place until April 13. However, city staff remain on the job and things will be done. The Public Safety Department and Benton Harbor Water Plant are operating normally without interruption to services. Water payments can be made online at bhcity.org or by putting those in the payment drop box in front of city hall. The city commission approved a moratorium earlier this month on water shutoffs for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, and those who need water service turned on can get that scheduled through the city’s Water Payment Center. There will be no additional costs to turn on service. All other departments will service emergency calls only for the time being.. ...Read Full Story

Bottle, Can Returns On Hold Due To Coronavirus

Because the coronavirus can survive on surfaces for several days, stores in Michigan are no longer accepting bottle and can returns. That recommendation was made this week by the Michigan Retailers Association, the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, and the Midwest Independent Retailers Association. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont have stopped taking in the returnables already. The move is meant to help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect the health of the retail workers who handle those returned cans and bottles.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County COVID-19 Cases Rise To 8

Berrien County’s COVID-19 cases are rising quickly. They were at 4 on Sunday, and have now doubled to 8 as of Tuesday morning. There have not been any deaths in southwest Michigan from the coronavirus outbreak, and the Berrien County Health Department has not released information on the three positive tests since Monday. Three of the first five were of two people who attended the Sandi Patty concert on March 8 at Andrews University, and the husband of one of those women. There are officially 15 people in the state who have died from the illness, but that number is expected to be increased this afternoon when the latest figures from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are released, as a Detroit police officer has died from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Urged to Ensure Sanitation for All

Community leaders from Detroit and clean water organizations are calling on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to establish public hand-washing stations because of the slow pace of returning water service to households whose water has been cut off. Detroit resident Nicole Hill has experienced shutoffs several times in recent years, and says limited access to drinking water is impacting her family’s health as it makes eating adequately difficult. She adds more also needs to be done to inform residents about how to get water restored and protect themselves from the virus.. ...Read Full Story

Coronavirus KO’s First Antiques On The Bluff Of Year

Antiques on the Bluff is the latest event put on by St. Joseph Today that’s being impacted by coronavirus. Executive director Amy Zapal says they are canceling the first show of the year, which had been set for Saturday, May 3. As a result, this year’s Antiques on the Bluff season is set to start on Sunday, June 7, but that can also change depending on the latest developments with COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Calls For Special Health Insurance Enrollment Period

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is urging the federal government to open a special enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Last week, the governor and Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Anita Fox issued a call for an extra enrollment period so people without coverage could get another chance to sign up. Whitmer reiterated her call this weekend, saying it “is more important than ever for Michiganders to know they have health insurance coverage that will pay for them to be tested and treated for COVID-19.” Her office says Michigan and 32 other states with federally-facilitated marketplaces need the Trump administration to allow the state to open enrollment. As of Saturday, nine states that operate state-based exchanges have opened special enrollment periods to allow people to sign up for health insurance coverage. The governor’s office says special enrollment periods have been allowed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the past. For example, after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, they were allowed for residents affected.. ...Read Full Story