Taylor Wizner

Health care and tourism reporter

Taylor Wizner is the health and tourism reporter for IPR News. She joined IPR in 2019 after working at Detroit's Public Radio station, WDET. She graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Michigan. When not sharing the news of the day, she enjoys spending time in northern Michigan's beautiful woods and dunes, often with her dog in tow.

Charles Dawley

One northern Michigan county reeling from COVID-19 is Emmet County. It’s counted almost 800 cases and 27 deaths from the disease.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Starting Wednesday, restaurants in Michigan are again limited to delivery and takeout, high school and college classes can only be online, and non-professional sports games are cancelled. That’s under an order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s public health director.

Taylor Wizner

 

Hospital leaders from across Michigan say COVID cases are rising in rural and urban communities alike, straining the state's healthcare system.  

President Trump addresses a Traverse City crowd the night before election day.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Three weeks ago, John Roth, the now-elected representative for the 104th state house district, was door knocking in Grand Traverse County. There he met a man who says he votes Republican, but strongly disliked President Trump.

 

Taylor Wizner

According to unofficial election results, voters approved a plan to pay for improvements to Benzie County schools. The proposal passed with more than 700 votes as of Wednesday morning. Voters knocked it down in three previous elections.

Lexi Krupp / Interlochen Public Radio

Results are incomplete and unofficial. Updated at 7:00 p.m.


Taylor Wizner

 

Northwest lower Michigan is seeing a rapid rise in the number of COVID cases. Until recently, the region has largely avoided COVID spikes.

But as temperatures drop, residents are having to shift practices and behavior. 

In late May when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted the stay-at-home order for northern Michigan, Traverse City local Tyler Harkert braced for a rush of downstaters. 

Taylor Wizner

 

A look around Benzie Central Schools feels somewhat like a journey back in time. 

Morgan Springer

 

Update 10/22/30: TCAPS says TC Central High School  will return to in-class learning on Friday. The district says the health department completed its contact tracing efforts.

Traverse City Area Public Schools has closed TC Central High School for two days after positive COVID-19 test results from someone at the school were reported Tuesday. Depending on how many were exposed, or how long the health department needs to contact trace, the school may have to continue virtual instruction for longer, possibly for 14 days, TCAPS Superintendent John VanWagoner says.

Interlochen Public Radio

 

Thursday marked the highest single day of reported COVID-19 cases in Michigan. The state reported 2,030 new cases and 32 deaths. 

A partial reason that number is so high is due to a slowdown in the reporting of electronic lab results from the previous day, according to the Michigan State Police.

But on Tuesday, state Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said we may be in the second wave of the virus.

"Trucker” Randy Bishop, host of “Your Defending Fathers” radio show and leader in Michigan second amendment rights groups, says Facebook has taken down his account.

MPRN

State and federal authorities have charged a group of 13 suspected terrorists in an alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer and recruit militia members to storm the state Capitol.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the FBI announced the charges Thursday. They say the men wanted to overthrow the state government and incite a civil war.

Courtesy Michigan Executive Officer of the Governor

Citing a recent surge of COVID-19 in the Upper Peninsula, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is moving the region back one stage in the state’s reopening plan.

 

The order will take effect Friday, October 9.

Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance

Cold fall and winter weather may be the death knell for some northern Michigan bars and restaurants, worry several northern Michigan chambers of commerce.

 

Currently, the state requires these restaurants only seat 50% occupancy indoors, while bars can’t serve any patrons inside. Over the summer, the venues overcame those limits by serving more people outside. 

Consumers Energy says it will help thousands of northern Michigan residents with their energy bills. The company is pledging $12 million to help state residents and small business owners hit hard by the pandemic.

The utility says for the first time it’s offering assistance to families at most income levels who struggle to pay their bills. They say 40,000 customers in Michigan owe money or are in crisis.

Screenshot of the MI Safe Start Map on Sept. 24

 

Cases of COVID-19 in the Traverse City region have been declining this week and the percent of positive tests has also been decreasing.

 

  

 

But public health officials repeat the same refrain: don’t let your guard down. The pandemic is far from over and the upcoming flu season, in-person classes resuming and the cold pushing people in-doors — where risk is higher — remain top of mind.

 

Interlochen Public Radio

 

Testing wastewater can rapidly detect COVID-19 outbreaks in college campuses, nursing homes and prisons.

Thanks to a $10 million dollar grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act the state is beginning to test wastewater across Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the State Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will team up with local health departments and colleges for the three month pilot.

Courtesy Legs Inn

 

A steady stream of visitors to resort areas in northern Michigan over the summer exceeded national tourism averages. But local businesses are still hurting from lost revenue during the state’s COVID-19 lockdown, and are now putting their hopes into fall tourism.

Shared with IPR

 

Members of the far-right group Proud Boys volunteered at an Antrim County event that hosted John James, the Republican candidate for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat this year.

Taylor Wizner

 

A U.S. Postal Service facility in Traverse City is now running with two fewer mail sorting machines.

Last week, USPS workers removed and dismantled two of their four large mail processing machines. They sort mail for zip codes starting in 496 and 497, covering most of northern lower Michigan.

Friske Farm Market Facebook page

 

A northern Michigan health department says it’s struggling to make a local market comply with a state executive order. Now the Antrim County store may have also been a COVID-19 exposure site.

Interlochen Public Radio

 

Northwest lower Michigan health departments reported 37 possible COVID-19 exposure sites since Monday, August 10.

 

They included typical exposure sites, including restaurants, retail stores and airplane flights, but they also include other types of locations that have recently cropped up — a community pool, skate park and a ferry.

TOM SWIFT

 

The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to condemn racism in county government at its Tuesday meeting.

The resolution called for inclusivity and equity of services to minority residents, while acknowledging the negative impact of racism.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

 

State or local health department confirmed COVID-19 cases in northern Michigan:

Last updated September 29, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.

Tom Swift

 

On Sunday evening, Northport resident Tom Swift attached a duct tape message to a government building sign.

A few letters in black marker showed what he believes to be true: racism exists in Leelanau County.

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