News | Michigan Radio


Five generations of women in Biba Adams' family, standing in the grass with trees behind them
Courtesy Biba Adams


On March 26, two of the most important women in Biba Adams’ life went into the hospital with COVID-19 infections, and would soon be fighting for their life.


Adams dropped her mother, Elaine Head, off at the ER at Beaumont’s Royal Oak hospital at about 11a.m.

“They put her in a wheelchair. Didn’t even allow me to crack my door open,” Adams says. She was about to say “'Bye mom, I love you,’ and she was in.”

People across social media are sewing their own facemasks, but they don't do much to protect against coronavirus.
Adobe Stock

Update, April 6, 2020:

The Centers for Disease Control issued new guidance on facemasks for the general public Friday, recommending that people consider wearing cloth face coverings in public.

The guidance is based on growing evidence that presymptomatic and asymptomatic people can spread the virus. 

Work crew replacing a lead service line in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is suspending its lead pipe replacement program amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flint started replacing service lines connecting city homes and businesses to city water mains in the wake of the city’s water crisis.

Since 2016, the city has inspected more than 25,000 service lines and replaced more than 9,000 lead and galvanized pipes.

scrabble tiles that spell out mental health

Michigan’s mental health community is facing some unique challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, and is making changes. Mental health care providers say isolation can be difficult for everyone, but especially for people with depression and other mental health issues.

Some mental health providers are providing telehealth – helping people over the phone and online.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha speaks at a book signing
umseas / CreativeCommons

Today on Stateside, we talk to Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha, who tested positive for COVID-19. Plus, we talk to children who just found out the rest of their school year is cancelled.

(Subscribe to Stateside on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or with this RSS link)

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued another COVID-19-related executive order. The order says employees who think they have the disease have a right to stay home.

It also says businesses cannot fire or punish employees who stay home because they show symptoms or think they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. The order also covers workers who have to care for someone at home who’s sick with COVID-19.

flickr user Darren Whitley /

The final whistle has blown for high school winter and spring sports in Michigan.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Friday it is cancelling the remainder of the 2019-20 Winter and Spring sports seasons. 

The association says the decision is in compliance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “state of disaster” directive closing K-12 schools and moving education online for the remainder of the school year. 

user meddygarnet / Flickr

An employee at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit has died due to the new coronavirus. They were in their 70s. The VA did not provide any other details as to underlying health conditions due to “privacy concerns.”

This employee is at least the second known medical professional to die of COVID-19 in Detroit. 

lisa ewald
Courtesy of Aubree Farmer

Updated April 4, 10:33 am: Lisa Ewald, a 54-year-old nurse who worked for more than 20 years at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, died this week after telling friends and family she’d tested positive for COVID-19.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr -

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order ending face-to-face instruction for the current school year. But Whitmer also wants kids to move forward.

“What we want to make sure is that no student is penalized because of COVID-19, that they are not held back because of this global crisis that we’re confronting,” Whitmer said in a press conference Thursday.

Lisa Hagel is superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District. She spoke with Michigan Radio’s Doug Tribou about how the new order will affect students and families.

Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the doors to school buildings are locked for the rest of this school year. This is not a surprise. It just makes permanent an earlier order that temporarily closed schools. That was to buy time to come up with plans to address the rapid spread of the coronavirus. But the governor says it won’t be safe anytime soon for students and teachers to return to school. 

auchter's art
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I hope and pray you are all dealing with your coronavirus contradictions as best you can.

Governor's office

Michiganders heard Governor Gretchen Whitmer address a wide range of topics related to the state’s response of the COVID-19 outbreak during an hour long program broadcast Thursday night on television and radio stations, including Michigan Radio. 

Artur Tumasjan for

Updated April 2, 11:00 pm: The president of the Michigan Nurses Association says members are being asked by their employers to transfer to hospitals in metro Detroit, where health systems are reaching capacity amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases

Despite the extra risk inherent in those jobs, the requests aren’t coming with any guarantees about personal protective equipment, says Jamie Brown, president of the MNA and a critical care nurse at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo.


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System is asking 3,000 southeastern Michigan first responders to take part in a clinical trial of a treatment that doctors hope may prevent people from contracting COVID-19. 

Hydroxychloroquine is a commonly used drug for lupus, which has shown some effect on the new coronavirus in early studies. However, published research remains thin.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr -

Today on Stateside, we talk to Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell about the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Southeast Michigan, and how the outbreak is shifting the tone of partisan politics in Washington. We'll also hear about what impact ending the school year early could have on the state's most vulnerable students. 

Candice Fortman with her family.
Courtesy of Candice Fortman

This week, we've spent some time talking about how to cope with grief, uncertainty, and isolation in these strange times. Candice Fortman, Chief of Engagement and Operations of Outlier Media, has had to think about this for many years. Two years ago, she wrote in an article on Medium titled "Why I Still Get Out of Bed" about grieving the loss of her mother as an only child. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Research into the Defense Department’s records finds hundreds of military installations are contaminated with PFAS. The toxic substances are confirmed to be in the tap water or ground water in 328 military sites. They’re suspected in the water at 350 more sites. (See map here.)

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The number of people applying for unemployment insurance in Michigan continues to soar.

More than 311,000 Michiganders filed initial claims for unemployment insurance during the week ending on March 28th, an increase of more than 183,000 from the week before.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Construction is underway for a COVID-19 field hospital at Detroit's TCF Center.

As of April 1, Michigan health officials said there were 9,334 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan and 337 confirmed deaths. In Detroit alone, there were over 2,400 cases and 83 deaths.

Those numbers are guaranteed to continue climbing over at least the next several weeks, pushing local hospitals past capacity.

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
State of Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday morning that ends all face-to-face K-12 schooling for the 2019-20 academic year. 

Instead of meeting in person, the order establishes guidelines for distance learning, which will continue.

Gov. Whitmer
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is set to answer questions about COVID-19 in Michigan during a town hall Thursday evening at 7 p.m. Watch the event in the livestream below. If you're having trouble seeing the page, please try refreshing your browser. 

wind turbines and solar panels in a field
pkawasaki / Adobe Stock

Utility companies are required to file long-term plans with the state government. DTE Energy filed a plan in 2018 and the Michigan Public Service Commission had concerns. One of them was DTE’s plans to meet Michigan’s 15 percent renewable energy requirement. The Commission thought DTE’s numbers were vague.

Brad Gowland / Michigan Radio

For weeks, we've been hearing all about "flattening the curve." 

The idea is if everyone stays home and practices social distancing, the number of COVID-19 cases will increase at a rate that won't overwhelm the health care system. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting Thursday, the city of Flint is imposing a curfew to try to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.   

Two weeks ago, Flint was untouched by the coronavirus pandemic. As of Wednesday, Flint and Genesee County have recorded 249 positive COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.  


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of disaster in Michigan. And she is asking the Legislature to extend her emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus outbreak that’s claimed more than 300 lives in Michigan.

Governor Whitmer sent a letter to House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake). She asked the Republican leaders to call votes to extend emergency powers she’s exercised on her own until now.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin
U.S. Congress

How states have responded to the growing spread of COVID-19 has largely depended on governors' decisions. The result has been a patchwork of containment strategies across the country. Numerous officials have called on the federal government to create a more coordinated national response. That includes Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who represents Michigan's 8th Congressional District.

prison cell for two people
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court says county jails should accelerate efforts to reduce the number of incarcerated people. And Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says the rapid spread of COVID-19 has made jails more dangerous for inmates, staff, and the sheriff’s deputies who guard them.

doctors walking down a hallway
Luis Melendez / Unsplash

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is fast tracking hundreds of licenses for graduating nurses, medical doctors, and osteopathic physicians across the state.

Many medical facilities are experiencing a shortage of healthcare personnel due to COVID-19. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is trying to increase the number of healthcare professionals fighting the pandemic as soon as possible. The graduates have already completed their respective programs and are just going through the typical procedures before they can get to work.

stock photo of surgical masks on a table
Macau Photo Agency / Unsplash

Michigan’s prison factories are re-tooling to produce personal protective equipment for prisoners and staff. According to MDOC, this is to slow the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan’s twenty-nine prisons.

There are three prison factories in Michigan: a Michigan State Industries factory at Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan State Industries Print Shop and Mattress Factory at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, and Michigan State Industries garment factory at the Boyer Road Correctional Facility in Carson City. Those factories are now producing cloth surgical masks, gloves, and gowns.