Local News Archives

County Commission Discusses COVID-19 Planning


The Berrien County Board of Commissioners is starting to think about how some aspects of life could return to semi-normal. At this week’s meeting, Board Chair Mac Elliott noted Oronoko Township has approved a resolution asking for some local discretion on the ability to follow CDC guidelines for COVID-19. Elliott wondered if the board thought some autonomy should be requested for the county as most COVID-19 cases are around Detroit. Commissioner Bob Harrison urged caution, talking about the number of local coronavirus cases.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Releases COVID-19 Demographics Info


The Berrien County Health Department is now sharing demographic information on the COVID-19 cases the county has had. It says due to the number of confirmed and presumed cases in Berrien County, it’s now able to share data broken down by zip code and other categories like age, gender, and race. It says the county as of Thursday had 133 confirmed cases and 162 presumed cases. The total number of recoveries is 71. 54% of the cases have been in women, and 43% in men. COVID-19 cases have been spread somewhat  evenly among people between the ages of 30 and 69. 37% of the cases have been in patients who are white, 23% in patients who are black, 5% Hispanic, and 2% Asian. The most heavily affected zip code is 49022, or Benton Harbor, while five zip codes in Berrien County have had no cases. You can see all of the information here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, Others Seek Help For Hospitals


With hospitals around the country making COVID-19 their main focus and losing a massive amount of revenue, Congressman Fred Upton thinks emergency loans they got through the CARES Act should not have to be paid back. He tells WSJM News he and most of Michigan’s Congressional delegation have made that request to the House and Senate leadership.. ...Read Full Story

National Cherry Festival Canceled For 2020


One of the biggest summertime events in Michigan is the latest to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City is not going to be held this summer. Executive director Kat Paye  tells WSJM News this is the first time they’ve had to cancel the festival since 1947, and the decision wasn’t easy.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Coronavirus Deaths Top 2,000; Berrien County Has 10 New Cases


The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in Michigan is now over 2,000. The state Department of Health and Human Services says 172 people have died from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing the total number to 2,093. There are just over 12-hundred new cases as well, with the state total up to 29,263. In southwest Michigan, there are 10 new cases in Berrien County to bring the case total to 133. The number of Berrien County deaths remains at 7, while Cass County has two new cases for a total of 19 with one death and Van Buren County’s numbers are unchanged with 26 cases and two deaths. The state has started to report the case fatality rate as of Thursday, with the statewide fatality rate at 7%.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer Optimistic On Coronavirus Cases Peaking


Michigan’s coronavirus case total is up by 1,058 to 28,059. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is the state’s chief medical officer and says officials are “very optimistic” that actions taken by the state are working, noting they’re seeing “continued slowing of cases and hospitalizations across Michigan. However, a plateau does not mean we are out of the woods,” Khaldun said. She adds more tests need to be done for COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backs MSU Proposal For PPE


Congressman Fred Upton is waiting on a decision from the FDA on a proposal from Michigan State University for the possible sanitation of personal protective equipment so it can be reused. He tells WSJM News the MSU idea involves using a commercial grade oven.. ...Read Full Story

State Launches Virtual Food Drive


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced a virtual food drive to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. It says its Aging and Adult Services Agency and the Food Bank Council of Michigan are raising money to provide food boxes to seniors who are staying home to protect themselves. They’re asking Michigan residents to make monetary donations on the virtual food drive website. One box is filled with 33 food items that provide for 22 meals. Each box contains breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes for seniors who are food insecure. A donation of $28 pays for an entire box containing canned chicken, green beans, peanut butter, and diced tomatoes. Boxes are distributed from local food banks through Area Agencies on Aging and delivered by volunteers. You can make a donation right here.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Records Two More COVID-19 Deaths, State Cases Rise To 28,059


There are more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the state. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the statewide total is up to 28,059 with 1,921 deaths. That’s an increase of 1,058 new cases and 153 deaths from Tuesday. In Berrien County, the number of deaths is up by two to seven, and cases rose by 22 to 123. Cass County has four new cases, rising to 17, with one death. Van Buren County also increased by four cases to 26, and remains at two deaths. The Berrien County Health Department is reporting at least 65 people have recovered in the county.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-LGBT Discrimination Ballot Drive Moves To E-Signatures


A group spearheading a ballot drive to add LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is moving to collect voter signatures online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fair and Equal Michigan says the electronic petition campaign is believed to be the first in state history. The group says the strategy is legal and secure. People who want to sign can go to a website with a two-factor authentication system and enter their driver’s license or state ID card number to be cross-checked against the voter file. The ballot committee has until late May to collect about 340,000 valid signatures.. ...Read Full Story

Beaumont Health Opens Huge Study Of Coronavirus Antibodies


Beaumont Health in the Detroit area is launching a new study using tens of thousands of people to test for the antibodies of COVID-19 to see if those can help develop a treatment. One of the 38,000 test subjects is a lab manager from the hospital system only identified by ABC News as Tyler, who was sick in February with what he now believes was COVID-19. He got word this week that he had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. ...Read Full Story

State Working To Handle Over 1,000,000 Unemployment Claims


Over a million in Michigan have filed for unemployment, an unprecedented number that strangled the state’s unemployment claims system and caused to crash for hours on Monday. Aside from adding more servers and call centers, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity director Jeff Donofrio says the system has to become more consistent with those in other states.. ...Read Full Story

Pole Barn Destroyed By Fire In Van Buren County


A pole barn in Van Buren County is a complete loss following a fire. Four fire departments were called in to battle the blaze in Arlington Township in the 49-thousand block of 38th Avenue around 10 p.m. Tuesday, and the roof had already collapsed by the time the first units from the Bangor Community Fire Department arrived. More help came from the Columbia Township, Lawrence Township, and South Haven Area Emergency Services fire departments. No one was hurt, and no cause has been identified yet. The pole barn contained farm equipment and hay.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, Other House Members Send Letter To Whitmer Expressing Concerns About Stay Home Order


Congressman Fred Upton has signed on to a letter from several Republican members of the U.S. House asking Governor Gretchen Whitmer to ease some of the restrictions in her recent expansion to the stay home order. The members write the governor was right to issue the initial stay home order, but question aspects of the extension. Upton tells WSJM News some businesses should be allowed to operate.. ...Read Full Story

Six New COVID-19 Cases In Berrien County, 1,366 New Cases Statewide


Michigan is reporting 1,366 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reports 166 deaths from the illness since Monday, bringing the state’s total to 1,768. The state has had a total of 27,001 COVID-19 cases. In Berrien County, Tuesday brought six new COVID-19 confirmations, bringing the county’s total to 111 with five deaths. Cass County is reporting 13 cases, up by two with one death total. Van Buren County on Tuesday reported 22 cases of COVID-19, the same as the day before. However, the county also reported its second COVID-19 death.. ...Read Full Story

Intercare Operating COVID-19 Test Site


A new drive-thru COVID-19 testing site is now up and running at InterCare in Benton Harbor. CEO Velma Hendershott tells WSJM News it opened Friday with the help of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and took 13 tests on its first day. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you need to get an order from your doctor or InterCare to be tested.. ...Read Full Story

Perrigo Making Hand Sanitizer


West Michigan-based drug maker Perrigo is now making hand sanitizer. The Allegan County company says it’s responding to the needs of hospital, medical, and first responder staff who are running low on supplies. Over the next few months, Perrigo will donate at least 500,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to hospitals and first responders facing shortages. The company says when it learned of the hand sanitizer shortage, it got to work formulating, producing, and shipping its own within a few weeks. The hand sanitizer is being made at its New York facility and the product is being delivered to hospitals and healthcare providers in west Michigan, including Allegan General Hospital and Spectrum Health Hospitals, and the greater New York City area. Perrigo President Murray Kessler says the company has “a special responsibility to do everything in our power to assist those in need.” Additional batches of hand sanitizer will also be provided to Perrigo essential employees.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Make Repairs To Dyckman Avenue Bascule Bridge To Prevent Future Water Damage To Hydraulic System


Repairs are coming for the Dyckman Avenue bascule bridge in South Haven. The city council this week approved raising the HPU control cabinets to get them away from the high water in the Black River. The motors for the hydraulic system to operate the bridge are located in those cabinets, which are sealed and remained water-tight during a surge in the river in late November, but the Public Works Department says that can’t be relied upon for a long period of time. While the water has not risen to that level since then, there is concern it could happen again this summer or fall due to what is expected to be a record height for Lake Michigan. Strain Electric has been hired to make the repairs, including fabrication of two stainless steel brackets to raise the cabinets, reinstall pipes and wiring, and energizing and testing the system. Work is expected to start next week, and the city says raising the cabinets will lessen the chance of water reaching them again.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grants Announced


The Berrien Community Foundation has announced this year’s Heart of Cook grant recipients. The Heart of Cook is a grant program run by employees of the Cook nuclear power plant near Bridgman. Each year, the program gives out thousands of dollars to non-profits and other community organizations throughout Berrien County. This latest round of grants is a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Berrien Community Foundation has released the following statement:. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Announces Amway Donation Of Personal Protective Equipment In West Michigan


More donations of personal protective equipment are coming in to the state’s healthcare facilities. Governor Whitmer says Amway has “really stepped up to help Kent County families and health care workers during this time.” Amway employees have distributed nearly 28,000 units of hand sanitizer to hospitals, clinics, senior care facilities and more around west Michigan as of April 9. The company is also working to get disinfectant wipes for hospitals and to distribute secure hygiene kits for those who are homeless in Kent County. Whitmer adds Amway is also planning to fly in a “steady stream” of N95 masks to the state over the next several weeks. She adds she’s eager to work with them and “every other business that wants to contribute their time and machinery” to helping Michigan fight coronavirus.. ...Read Full Story

Stevensville Gun Store Hit By Early Morning Thieves


Three suspects are on the run after getting in and out of the Black Arsenal gun store in Stevensville this morning in about 30 seconds, and getting away with five long guns. Surveillance photos released by Lincoln Township police show the three getting in by breaking a window on the south side of the business at 2797 Kimmel Street at 5:11 a.m. Police arrived at 5:14, and the suspects were already gone. Witness saw the three running westbound away from the business and drove off in what police say appears to be a newer, light-colored Chevy Camaro. A neighbor called 911 after hearing the suspects break in to the gun store.. ...Read Full Story

Contract Approved To Tear Down St. Joseph Eyesore


The contract is in place for the demolition of what’s become known as the “Tarp House” in the city of St. Joseph. The home at the corner of Niles Avenue and Hoyt as you enter the city from the south has been vacant and falling apart for years. Owner Dennis Knuth fought the city in court, but has run out of appeals. The St. Joseph City Commission Monday night approved the bid of B&Z Company of Benton Harbor to handle the demolition. The timing, however, will be subject to the lifting or expiration of Governor Whitmer’s action last Thursday extending and expanding the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Testing Site Opens In Benton Harbor


13 new testing sites for COVID-19 are opening this week around Michigan, and one will be in Benton Harbor. The site at InterCare on M-139 is a drive-thru testing center, meaning the patient will not have to get out of their car. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News there are now new standards for who can be tested.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Calls For Restrictions On Landscapers To Be Eased


State Senator Kim LaSata is calling on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to ease some of the COVID-19 restrictions on landscaping companies. She’s sent a letter to the governor warning that a failure to allow Michigan residents to follow state guidelines to kill and prevent mosquitoes further threatens their safety. LaSata tells WSJM News that means landscapers are needed to prevent Eastern equine encephalitis, which is spread by mosquitoes.. ...Read Full Story

State Passes 25,000 COVID-19 Cases, Berrien County Records Fifth Death


The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan rose by 997 from Sunday to Monday. The latest numbers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show 115 additional deaths from the illness. The total number of cases statewide is at 25,635, and the total number of deaths is at 1,602. Berrien County as of Monday was reporting 105 cases, up from 104 the day before. The county has now had five COVID-19 deaths. The fifth death, reported by the Berrien County Health Department on Monday, has been identified as “an older male with underlying health conditions.” Out of the county’s 105 cornavirus cases, the department says 53 have recovered. Cass County on Monday was at eleven cases, the same as the day before, with one death total. Van Buren County is at 22 cases, an increase of one from Sunday, with one death total.. ...Read Full Story

Strong Winds, High Waves To Batter Lakeshore Today


Strong winds and high waves will batter the Lake Michigan shoreline today. The National Weather Services has issued both a Gale Warning and a Lakeshore Flood Warning for Berrien and Van Buren counties. Winds along the shore will be gusting to over 50 miles an hour as a cold front moves through, producing waves as high as 12 to 15 feet. Meteorologists say the waves will result in more erosion along with flooding from New Buffalo to as far north as Mason and Oceana counties. Significant erosion of beaches and dunes is expected. A loss of property will be possible, with any buildings near the edge of the dune possibly in danger of falling in. Moderate inundation of low-lying areas along the lakeshore and in river mouths is expected, and road closures are possible. Utilities are also warning of the likelihood of power outages due to downed wires.. ...Read Full Story

Big Drop Sunday In New COVID-19 Cases In Michigan


There has been a substantial decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Michigan. The Department of Health and Human Services says there were 645 new cases Sunday compared to 1,392 on Saturday, and the number of deaths fell from 111 on Saturday to 95 on Sunday. State health officials say they cannot say if the new numbers “represent a true decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths in our state.” The statement goes on to say reported case counts may reflect a reduction in the amount of laboratory testing performed over the weekend and holiday. Single day fluctuations in the number of confirmed cases may not be significant, as a number of external factors can affect data reporting.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Up By 6 In Berrien County, 1,210 Statewide


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 1,210 new cases of COVID-19 for Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 23,993. It says there have been 111 additional deaths since Friday, making the state’s total 1,392. Meanwhile, Berrien County is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 for Saturday, bringing the county’s total to 94. The Berrien County Health Department says 44 have recovered. The county has had three deaths from the illness. Cass County is unchanged from Friday with 12 cases of COVID-19. Van Buren County is up to 21 cases from 20 on Friday. Cass and Van Buren counties have had one COVID-19 death each.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of South Haven Performance Series Canceled


The South Haven Performance series has announced the cancellation of its May, June, and July concerts. It says the decision was made due to the COVID-19 crisis with the agreement of the artists involved. It hopes to be able to reschedule the engagements for next year. A decision on the August, 2020 concert will be made at a later date. You can find out more about the South Haven Performance Series right here.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Benton Harbor Shooting


The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is investigating a fatal shooting that occurred on Friday. It says officers were in the southeast area of the city shortly after 10 p.m. when they heard several gunshots. They then found 19-year-old Marcas Purnell of Benton Harbor near the intersection of Cross Street and Bishop Avenue with gunshot wounds. He was unresponsive when police found him, and he later died at Spectrum Health Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story