At least 46 COVID-19 cases tied to local Meijer warehouse outbreak


Kyle Kaminski

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TUESDAY, May 12 — Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said at least 46 local residents have been infected with COVID-19 following an outbreak at an Eaton County Meijer warehouse.

Last week, Vail identified a surge in coronavirus cases in south Lansing zip code 48911, tied largely to a concentrated outbreak at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Ionia County and a Meijer distribution warehouse off Waverly Road in Delta Township. More details were released today.

Vail said of the cases tied to the warehouse, at least 46 are Ingham County residents. Thirty of those local cases are employees, she said. The other 16 are household contacts of employees.

Statistics from 48911 showed last week that the local Asian population, namely refugees, had been disproportionately impacted by the virus in the county’s statistical COVID-19 epicenter. Reports showed that about 47% of cases in that zip code were among Asian residents.

A variety of factors can cause different socioeconomic classes and geographic areas to have more cases than another, like population density, health care and testing access, poverty, employment types and housing. But when many work at the same place, that’s a red flag too.

Vail said the outbreak at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch and the Meijer warehouse together employed at least 36 of the 74 infected Asian residents of 48911. At least 21 worked at Herbrucks and 15 worked at Meijer — some of the only centralized outbreaks in 48911.

“I think we’ll find those two facilities are linked,” Vail said last week. “Someone from Herbruck’s likely interacted with that warehouse in the distribution line and brought this into the community.”

Vail also noted that most of the cases tied to those locations have been relatively mild. Still, county health department officials are working with community action agencies to provide preventative outreach to the affected population and making plans for targeted testing.

In Greater Lansing…

The Ingham Community Health Centers’ board of directors is calling on the city of Lansing and the Michigan State Police to ramp up enforcement of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders on social distancing ahead of yet another protest expected downtown on Thursday afternoon.

In emails obtained by City Pulse, board members said they were “deeply troubled” by the response of both the Lansing Police Department and the Michigan State Police and their failure to adequately enforce social distancing measures at several anti-lockdown protests in Lansing.

A budget shortfall exacerbated by the coronavirus is poised to drain millions of dollars in reserve funds from the city of Lansing, even as officials look to lay off staff and slash annual expenses.

In a budget plan that the city’s administration has revised in light of the pandemic, Mayor Andy Schor is proposing a $4.8 million hit to reserve funds in addition to a $700,000 payroll cut by freezing hiring and leaving dozens of unfilled positions vacant across several departments.

Those and other changes were outlined yesterday to the City Council, which has until May 18 to decide on a budget for the FY 2021 budget year, which begins July 1. More coverage of the city budget and protest enforcement will be in tomorrow’s print edition and made available online.

Schor also announced this week that groups of city employees are being offered voluntary furloughs. Volunteers are able to retain medical benefits, will be able to collect unemployment — in many cases making more than their usual salary — and then can return to work by July 31.

Eligible employees include those represented by the UAW and Teamsters 214, including many employees in the city’s public services department. Schor said union members, mayoral staff and all employees not represented by a labor union will be able to take the furlough.

The East Lansing City Council has called a special virtual meeting at 7 tonight. The city’s Downtown Development Authority will also meet at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow and again on noon Thursday. The Election Commission will also meet virtually at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Across Michigan…

Michigan officials are also preparing for another protest rally at the Capitol Thursday, with the state Senate’s Republican leader denouncing threats against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and asserting that anyone “brandishing” a firearm should be arrested, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, said today that despite a longstanding rule that Michiganders with carry permits can bring firearms into the Capitol, anyone brandishing them in such a way as to intimidate or threaten anyone else should be handcuffed and fingerprinted.

Michigan United for Liberty, a group opposed to Whitmer’s sweeping-stay-at-home orders intends to gather at the Capitol from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. Its leaders say they have discouraged violence and have not encouraged anyone to bring guns, reports the Free Press.

Heated speeches at the end of the Michigan Senate session today featured Democratic lawmakers’ demanding action to limit guns inside the Capitol. Sen. Malory McMorrow said threats weren’t about being required to stay at home but were “about spreading blood on the front lawn of this building,” according to recent reports published in the Detroit News.

Whitmer also signed a trio of executive orders this week to make it easier for younger residents to obtain work permits for summer jobs, to allow administrative hearings to be held by video and to temporarily lift weight restrictions for vehicles that carry essential supplies, MLive reports.

More than 120 of Michigan’s state-chartered banks and credit unions have stepped up to provide Paycheck Protection Program loans to support small businesses facing financial hardship due to the pandemic. At least 90% of Michigan’s 68 chartered banks and nearly half of Michigan’s 137 chartered credit unions have participated in the program to support businesses.

To date, more than $16 billion in forgivable loans were provided to more than 110,000 businesses with an average loan amount of $146,999, according to state data. The first round allocated nearly $350 billion in loans nationally. The second provided $310 billion in funding.

Crain’s Detroit Business reports that former State Sen. Morris Hood III died this week after contracting the coronavirus. Whitmer said he was a proud Detroiter and a dear friend.

“There was not a more loyal friend, thoughtful advisor or quicker wit,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Mo was the type of guy that lit up the room and made you glad to be there. He is doing that in his next life now and those of us left here are better having known him.”

In the numbers…

Eight cases of COVID-19 were tracked across Greater Lansing today, with no new deaths reported since yesterday. The regional death toll still stands at 33 with at least 874 confirmed cases reported across Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties over the last few months.

Michigan tracked at least another 469 coronavirus statewide cases this afternoon with another 90 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count past 48,000 with nearly 4,700 total deaths.

Ingham County                       

Cases — 594 (+7)

Recoveries — 218

Recovery Rate — 36.7%

Deaths — 17

Fatality Rate — 2.9%

As of this afternoon, zip code 48911 tracks at least 171-180 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 71-80 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip codes 48906, 48854 and 48864 each track 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842 and 48912 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip code 48917 and 48895 each track between 11-20 cases. Zip codes 48840, 48285, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48909, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 1-10 cases.    

Eaton County                    

Cases — 152 (+1)

Recoveries — 116        

Recovery Rate — 76.3%      

Deaths — 6             

Fatality Rate — 3.9%         

Clinton County                                       

Cases — 128       

Deaths — 10

Fatality Rate — 7.8%                                                

The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.                  

Michigan                       

Cases — 48,021 (+469)

Recoveries — 22,686 (as of 5/8/20)               

Recovery Rate — 47.2%    

Deaths — 4,674 (+90)

Fatality Rate — 9.7%      

State reports show that about 67% of cases (and 80% of deaths) are reported from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Other hotspots include Kent County with 5% of cases, Genesee County with 3.7% of cases, Washtenaw County with 2.5% of cases, Saginaw County with 1.7% of cases, Kalamazoo County with 1.3% and Ingham County with 1.2% of cases statewide. About 4.5% of cases, or 2,144 cases (and 55 deaths) have also been reported among state prisoners at the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Caucasians account for 35% of cases and 49% of deaths reported in Michigan. Despite accounting for a substantially smaller segment of the statewide population, African Americans account for 32% of cases and 41% of deaths.    

U.S.                     

Cases — 1,358,000

Deaths — 81,650

Fatality Rate — 6% 

Source: CNN             

Michigan reports the seventh most cases of any state in the country, behind only New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Michigan ranks fourth in the country in virus-related deaths, behind only New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.



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