Caroline Llanes | Michigan Radio
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Caroline Llanes

Newsroom Intern

Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.

Construction area with hard hat sign
benjamin sTone / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM / cropped from original

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it will do more inspections in response to outbreaks of COVID-19 in construction and manufacturing. It says it wants to make sure businesses are following COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Flint Community Schools

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is granting $1,051,000 to Flint Community Schools with the intent of increasing access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

FCS has been conducting remote learning for its students since August. This grant is a supplement to a $163,000 grant given to FCS in April, towards the beginning of the pandemic.

Ridgway White is the president and CEO of the C.S. Mott Foundation. He says the money will be used to purchase over 600 iPads and 1200 Chromebooks.

Mya King holding a large rabbit
Courtesy Mya King

Mya King, a sixteen-year-old from Chelsea, says she's been involved in activism in her city for awhile now. She was issued a ticket for impeding traffic during a Black Lives Matter protest over the summer.

King's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the ticket in the 14A district court this week.

At another, separate protest, she says she was punched in the face by a woman who began yelling at middle schoolers and high schoolers at the event. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Elections officials in Oakland and Macomb counties are assuring voters that their ballots will be counted, even if they don't have results on election night.

Lisa Brown is the Oakland County clerk and register of deeds.

She says voters need to be patient with clerks, who are taking every precaution necessary to make sure that the election is accurate and fair.

New Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
Dave Coulter for State Representative

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter announced an updated economic development plan for Oakland County, the first since 2004. 

Coulter says the private sector is the primary driver of jobs, but hopes that the county government can help the process along.

a laptop computer with a zoom call on it
Gabriel Benois / Unsplash

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 1108 into law last week, which says that public bodies can hold meetings virtually.

The governor had issued similar executive orders in the past few months that allowed for government entities to hold virtual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. These orders were nullified by a recent state Supreme Court decision that declared the governor's executive orders to be unconstitutional.

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

On Friday, the University of Michigan's quarantine and isolation housing was at 46% capacity — a rapid increase from 22% the Monday before, but still a little less than half of the units that house students who have tested positive for COVID-19, had been exposed to someone who had tested positive, or were waiting on test results.

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

Health officials at the University of Michigan are concerned about outbreaks of COVID-19 in residence halls on campus. The occupancy of the university's quarantine and isolation housing has gone from 17% a week ago to 46% as of Friday, according to the U of M's COVID-19 dashboard.

In U of M's weekly COVID-19 update briefing, officials expressed particular concern over an outbreak occurring at Mary Markley Hall. 

profile shot of Gretchen Whitmer
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Supreme Court has denied Governor Gretchen Whitmer's request to extend her COVID-19 executive orders to the end of October.

The court ruled on October 2 that the governor did not have the authority to declare a state of emergency after April 30. Whitmer then requested that her emergency orders be kept in place until October 30 to facilitate an "orderly transition." The court says their ruling went into effect immediately.

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

The Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development is distributing 10,000 free masks to residents. It's a part of a state program that gives free masks and other personal protective equipment to community action agencies.

The masks are intended for low-income people, seniors, and other vulnerable populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Morghan Williams is the human services manager for the Washtenaw County office.

She says the county wants to make sure that all residents have masks.

Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A K-12 school employee has died from COVID-19, following an outbreak at a Montcalm County elementary school. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported the outbreak on Monday, September 28. 

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department confirmed that a woman in her 50s died due to COVID-19, but declined to give any identifying information. William DiSessa of the Michigan Department of Education confirmed that it was a school employee. 

Blood test.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says fewer kids under age six are getting their blood tested for lead as compared to last year. 2020 started with comparable numbers of kids getting blood lead testing between 2019 and 2020.

In March of 2020, however, 48% fewer kids got tested compared to March 2019. There was a 76% decrease in testing in April 2020 compared to April 2019. The most recent data the state has is from May. There were 61% fewer kids getting tested in May 2020 compared to May 2019.

prison bars
Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Legislature has approved a package of bills that would help more people clear their criminal records of certain convictions. They now go to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The seven bill package is composed of House Bill 4980, HB 4981, HB 4982, HB 4983, HB 4984, HB 4985, and HB 5120. The Legislature has given itself a period of two years to put the system in place.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization at the University of Michigan, along with other student groups, gathered last night to express their disappointment in the university's administration. They held a candlelight vigil outside of President Mark Schlissel's house, which they say was to mourn their lost faith in the administration.

Lucy Peterson is a graduate student in political science and a member of GEO. She says the evening was a great way for GEO members to affirm their support for their cause, even if they were no longer on strike.

geo members on strike
Catherine Nouhan / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan have voted to continue their strike for another week. The university has called the strike a "profound disruption" to students' education, and has asked the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to order striking GEO members to return to work.

U of M filed a restraining order and preliminary injunction against GEO with the Wastenaw County Circuit Court. GEO leadership assured members that no individual is at risk because U of M filed an injunction, and promised to update its members as it has more information.

horses in a barn or stable
Engin Akyurt / Unsplash

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will be conducting aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes that spread the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. The state has confirmed 22 cases of EEE in horses since July 31, all of which were fatal.

According to the MDHHS, this is double the number of cases in horses as compared to 2019. This years' cases were spread across ten counties.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan voted to renew their strike in protest of the school's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union has been on strike since Tuesday of last week, and that strike expired on Friday. The renewed strike will last five more days, and expire on Friday, September 18, unless an offer is put forward by the university and approved by union members.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union representing graduate student employees on campus. The Graduate Employees' Organization, or GEO, has been on strike since Tuesday, protesting the university's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union's list of demands include the universal right to work remotely and greater transparency from U of M in terms of the models it used to create reopening plans.

a sign for GEO that says UM works because we do
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Undeterred by heavy rain Tuesday morning, protesters gathered around the University of Michigan’s campus, chanting and marching in protest of the school’s COVID-19 reopening plans. Today was the first day of a strike organized by the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, the union that represents graduate student employees at U of M.

While COVID cases have been increasing in dorms, the University says the biggest increases are coming from group housing off-campus.
Katie Raymond

Members of the graduate student employee union at the University of Michigan have voted to approve a strike in response to the school’s COVID-19 re-opening plan. According to the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, 79% of its membership voted to approve the work stoppage.

DAVID MARK / PIXABAY

In an executive order issued last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said gyms and swimming pools could re-open September 9, with added health and safety measures in place. 

Some gym owners, however, are approaching the re-opening process with caution.

University of Michigan
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

Faculty members at the University of Michigan are considering a vote of no confidence in response to the university’s plan to reopen.

This comes after a memo from the school’s Ethics and Privacy Committee circulated online. The memo expresses concern that the school’s reopening plan does not meet a reasonable safety standard and notes that vulnerable populations would be the most hurt by the current plan. 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
USDA.gov

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to provide students with free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they were learning remotely. This also gave the department the flexibility in distributing the food, allowing them to work with districts and community organizations. The USDA will be stopping these services at the end of the month.

In Michigan, school districts have been providing meals for students who might not have otherwise received them during the statewide lockdown.

Muskegon Lake
Muskegon County

Muskegon Lake was designated an Area of Concern by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1985. For decades now, state and local groups have been completing a wide variety of projects in order to clean up the area and get it off the Areas of Concern list. One of the groups that’s been working on projects to restore the lake, the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Corporation, says that its goal is to have all of the projects completed by the end of 2021, and off the EPA’s list shortly thereafter.

Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed 14 school-related outbreaks of COVID-19. The MDHHS did not provide the specific locations of the outbreaks, saying that “infectious disease outbreaks are not commonly announced to the media, unless there is broad risk to the general public and all people exposed cannot be notified.”

An outbreak, in this case, is generally considered to mean two or more cases with a common source of exposure. It is unknown how many cases are connected to the 14 outbreaks.

a protester at the university of michigan holds a sign that says leaders and best should test
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Some faculty and staff at the University of Michigan are worried about the influx of students returning to campus. Around 40 faculty, staff, and graduate student employees gathered in front of the administration building on Tuesday. It was the first of a planned three days of protests, asking for the administration to let faculty opt out of in-person instruction and demanding a more robust testing infrastructure for COVID-19.

Dr. Robert E. Anderson in 1973.
UM Bentley Historical Library

Ten former student athletes are suing the University of Michigan for damages related to abuse by the late Dr. Robert Anderson.

One named plaintiff, Mike Robinson, is a former basketball play for U of M and the other nine have chosen to remain anonymous.

 

Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Federation of Teachers will be voting Wednesday on whether to strike over COVID-19 related health and safety concerns.

The union, which represents 4,200 Detroit Public School employees, wants to start the school year in a completely online format.

 

kids with backpacks on going back to school
WavebreakmediaMicro / Adobe Stock

Physicians throughout the state are asking lawmakers to consider science and research when making decisions about how to proceed with education this fall. 

The Michigan state senate is expected to meet this Saturday to discuss a package of four education bills. House Bills 5910, 5911, 5912, and 5913 were approved by the state house of representatives in July. 

 

University of Michigan near Rackham and Michigan League
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan faculty and staff will soon be asked to use an app to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms.

Dr. Robert Ernst is the executive director of the University Health Service.

He says the app, called ResponsiBLUE, will be available in the app store in the coming days. 

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