Michigan County to reimburse virus aid

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Leopard tests at the zoo

positive for virus

The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO – An unvaccinated snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo has contracted covid-19.

Guards noticed Ramil, a 9-year-old male snow leopard, had a cough and runny nose on Thursday. Two tests of his stool later confirmed the presence of the coronavirus, the zoo said in a statement on Friday.

Ramil does not show any additional symptoms, the zoo said, but because he shares an enclosure with a female snow leopard and two Amur leopards, staff assume they have been exposed. As a result, the animals were quarantined and their exhibition was closed.

It is not known how Ramil got infected.

In January, a troop of eight gorillas from the zoo’s sister facility, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, contracted covid-19 from a guard who had the virus but showed no symptoms. The gorilla troop, which has since recovered, has become the first known example of the virus infecting monkeys.

The case prompted the zoo to request an experimental vaccine for animals for emergency use. The vaccine from Zoetis, an animal health company that was once part of Pfizer, has been given to species most at risk of contracting the virus, including several primates and big cats.

However, Ramil had not been vaccinated prior to his infection. There is no vaccine mandate for staff, but unvaccinated employees are required to wear masks at all times, the zoo said.

Michigan County

to repay virus help

The Associated Press

CORUNNA, Michigan – Elected officials in a conservative Michigan county who gave themselves bonuses totaling $ 65,000 with federal Covid-19 relief aid have said they will return the money after days of criticism.

Shiawassee County commissioners acted after the prosecutor said the payments were illegal, The Argus-Press reported. The Michigan Constitution prohibits additional compensation for elected officials “after services have already been rendered,” Attorney Scott Koerner said on Friday.

The commissioners, all Republicans, voted on July 15 to give themselves $ 65,000 as part of a plan to give $ 557,000 to 250 county employees as a “risk premium” to deal with the pandemic of coronavirus.

The smallest amounts for recipients were $ 1,000 to $ 2,000, but county board chairman Jeremy Root received $ 25,000. Two other commissioners received $ 10,000 each, while four others received $ 5,000 each.

The vote was 6-0 with a commissioner absent.

The commissioners gave money to other elected officials, including the district attorney, sheriff and clerk, all Republicans. They too said they would return it.

“Since these payments were made, confusion over the nature of these funds has become widespread,” said a statement from the commissioners. “[We] deeply regret that this gesture was misinterpreted and unanimously decided to voluntarily return the funds to the county, pending further guidance from the state of Michigan. “

Commissioner Marlene Webster insisted she had no idea she voted to pay herself and returned the money last week, even posting a copy of the check on Facebook. She criticized the latest statement, saying there had been no misinterpretation of the payments.

“This is an insult to the citizens of Shiawassee County,” said Webster.

Two members of Congress from Michigan, a Democrat and a Republican, said federal virus aid was not meant to reward elected officials.

A judge has set a hearing for today in a lawsuit to overturn the bonuses. It was filed before the last action.

In this October 10, 2019 photo, provided by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, Ramil, a male snow leopard, rests at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego. Ramil was tested for the coronavirus after guards noticed he had a cough and runny nose on Thursday, July 22, 2021. The animal’s stool sample was tested by zoo staff and in a lab at the state level, both of which confirmed the presence of the coronavirus, the zoo said in a statement the next day. It is not known how Ramil got infected. In 2017, vets removed his left eye due to a chronic illness he was already suffering from when he arrived at the zoo. (Tammy Spratt / San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance via AP)


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