Morning Briefing Feb. 3, 2021: I-696 crash under investigation, what state superintendent said about school year length, state offers free community college tuition, Fauci warns of Super Bowl parties spreading virus

Here are this morning’s top stories

A crash along eastbound I-696 on Feb. 3, 2021 in Madison Heights. (WDIV)

State police: Driver intentionally crashed into I-696 center median in Madison Heights

A driver intentionally crashed a vehicle into the center median along eastbound I-696 near Dequindre Road, blocking traffic for several hours Wednesday morning, Michigan State Police said.

The crash happened about 2:50 a.m. Eastbound I-696 had to be shut down at Couzens Avenue after the crash caused a light pole to fall onto the interstate on the eastbound side. A second vehicle struck that pole, police said, and then a third vehicle struck the initial vehicle that crashed.

Luckily, no serious injuries were reported.

State superintendent wants to extend Michigan’s school year

Testifying in front of a joint committee of the state Legislature, state superintendent Dr. Michael Rice advocated for increasing the number of required school days, which currently stands at 180 days.

“A return to pre-pandemic education is not enough,” Rice said. “As we plan for next year, as educators begin to do every winter, we need to pivot to a new better normal.”

Rice told legislators there needs to be state action but allow for districts to assess their students’ needs. Rice said the approach needs to be multi-layered. He also told the joint committee that in-person classes can resume this winter if the COVID cases remain flat and access to vaccines continues to rise.

Read more here.

Michigan offers free community college tuition

Michigan is accepting applications for tuition-free assistance for adults 25 and older to earn an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate at their local community college or a private training school.

The program, called “Michigan Reconnect,” is being supported with an initial $30 million in state funding. Applicants must be at least 25, have lived in the state a year or more, have a high school diploma or equivalent and not have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. More than 4.1 million residents could be eligible.

Read here to learn more about the program and how to apply.

Weather: Arctic cold fronts headed this way with some snow to watch for

Here is the weather forecast for Detroit.

Fauci: Don’t let Super Bowl parties become super spreaders

AP: The nation’s top infectious disease expert doesn’t want the Super Bowl to turn into a super spreader.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, says when it comes to Super Bowl parties during the pandemic, people should “just lay low and cool it.”

He said during TV interviews Wednesday that now isn’t the time to invite people over for watch parties because of the possibility that they’re infected with the coronavirus and could sicken others.

Big events like Sunday’s game in Tampa, Florida, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are always a cause for concern over the potential for virus spread, Fauci said.

“You don’t want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with,” he told NBC’s “Today” show. “You just don’t know if they’re infected, so, as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it.”

The NFL has capped game attendance at 22,000 people because of the pandemic and citywide coronavirus mandates.

What Michigan’s future could look like without action on climate change

This article was first published in the “In This Climate” Newsletter, a periodical newsletter looking at the impact of climate change in Michigan. Sign up for it here, or by using the form at the bottom of the article below.

“If climate change isn’t stopped soon, the impacts of the change will become much worse in Michigan.”

We’re continuing our series of newsletters with one of the top climate experts in the U.S. -- Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, Samuel A. Graham Dean and William B. Stapp Collegiate Professor of Environmental Education School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

Read here -- “What Michigan’s future could look like without action on climate change”

Coronavirus in Michigan 💉

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 562,510 as of Tuesday, including 14,672 deaths, state officials report.

Tuesday’s update includes 1,203 new cases and 63 additional deaths over the past two days, including 36 from a Vital Records review. On Monday, the state reported a total of 561,307 cases and 14,609 deaths.

New COVID-19 cases have plateaued and deaths are starting to slow. Testing has been steady with more than 40,000 diagnostic tests reported per day on average, with the 7-day positive rate average around 6%, now down to 4.9% this week. Hospitalizations continue to decline over the last several weeks.

Michigan’s 7-day moving average for daily cases was 1,461 on Monday -- the lowest since October. The 7-day death average was 38 on Monday. The state’s fatality rate is 2.6%. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 64,800 on Monday -- near the lowest it’s been since November.

Here’s a look at more of the data:

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.