Kate Wells | Michigan Radio
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Kate Wells

Reporter

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and co-host of the Michigan Radio and NPR podcast Believed. The series was widely ranked among the best of the year, drawing millions of downloads and numerous awards. She and co-host Lindsey Smith received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Judges described their work as "a haunting and multifaceted account of U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s belated arrest and an intimate look at how an army of women – a detective, a prosecutor and survivors – brought down the serial sex offender."

Wells and her family live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

C/O Spectrum Health

“Extreme call volumes.” Crashing servers. Cancellations. And one county says it’s been completely wiped out of vaccine supply by Monday afternoon. 

The airplane is being built as we fly it here, folks.

That’s the message from hospitals and local health officials around the state Monday, as they started (or in some cases, tried to start) vaccinating people 65 and older, as well as some essential workers.

C/O Beaumont Health

Technically, Michiganders 65 and older, as well as some frontline essential workers, are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, January 11th. 

But that’s not going to get them an appointment any time soon at the Kent County public health clinic.


Jacek Dylag for Unsplash

First, it was gyms. Now, it’s bars, restaurants, and even a donut shop. For Lansing attorney Dave Kallman, representing the small businesses that have had their liquor licenses suspended, been cited by the health department, or in the donut shop owner’s case, been criminally charged for allegedly violating the state’s COVID-19 orders, has become a bit of a cottage industry.

“They're really attacking these people big time, and going right for their ability to operate and be a business,” Kallman said by phone last week.

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Michigan will likely update its vaccination distribution plan by putting people 75 and older higher on the list, making them part of “Phase 1B.” Previously, that category included just “frontline essential workers,” a large group including  teachers, corrections staff, first responders and others. 


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

Two bills seeking to help hundreds of people who say they were sexually assaulted by a University of Michigan sports doctor will be reintroduced in January, the bills’ sponsors announced Friday.

The proposed legislation would make it easier for victims of the now-deceased Dr. Robert Anderson to successfully sue the University of Michigan, which employed him from the mid-1960’s through 2003. Allegations that Anderson sexually assaulted scores of students (most of them male) and community members, under the guise of medical treatment, date back decades.

Macomb County

Former state sex crimes prosecutor Brian Kolodziej has been charged with two counts of felony misconduct in office, the Kent County prosecutor announced Thursday, in connection with his handling of a college rape case at Central Michigan University.

Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker was appointed special prosecutor in the Kolodziej investigation in September 2019. Kolodziej had resigned his role as an Assistant Attorney General hired to prosecute sexual assault cases, after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with one of the victims in the CMU case where he was the lead prosecutor.

Hands gripping jail cell bars
maxpixel

The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially brutal for Michigan’s corrections system, with nearly 20,000 inmates testing positive since the pandemic began - a staggering figure, given the state’s entire prison population stood around 39,000 in March.

“We are still auditing the numbers to ensure we weed out any double counts or additional reinfections, but yes, it’s about 50% in total,” says Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz.


The call came one warm night in June 2019. A young Polish priest referred to as “John Doe 1” in a federal lawsuit filed Monday knew it was his boss, Rev. Miroslaw Krol, and he knew that Krol was drunk. But he didn’t know the night would end with him driving an intoxicated Krol and another visiting priest to a motel to meet a male sex worker, and then, according to the suit, withdrawing cash from an ATM so Krol could pay him.


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For Dr. Luda Khait-Vlisides, an ER doctor at DMC Sinai-Grace in Detroit, this moment is a big deal.

“Holy sh--, this is actually going to happen! And I am so excited about it,” Khait-Vlisides said last week, as the country stood on the brink of distributing the first, much-hoped for COVID-19 vaccine.

Hospital workers on general medical floors, emergency departments, and ICU units are the first in line.

Michigan Executive Office of the Governor

Citing continuing concerns about hospital capacity and “alarmingly high” death rates, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a 12-day extension of the COVID-19 restrictions initially put in place three weeks ago. 

That means high schools, colleges and universities must continue online learning only. Theaters and casinos must remain closed, and bars and restaurants can’t resume indoor dining, an especially tough blow during the crucial holiday season.

Dr. Arnold Monto thinks he and his colleagues will be back at their offices at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and otherwise resuming relatively normal lives by the spring, maybe early summer at the latest.

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

More than two years since Michigan passed legislation giving childhood victims of sexual abuse more time to sue, lawmakers are again taking up bills inspired by the Larry Nassar scandal. 

Jakayla Toney for Unsplash

Labs are taking an average of just under three days to process the nearly 900,000 COVID-19 tests performed in Michigan over the last two weeks, according to data the state began posting publicly just this week. 

It’s the clearest look so far at how long it’s taking each provider, from massive commercial labs in California to small strip mall urgent cares, to go from collecting a sample to the results being logged by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

SJ Objio for Unsplash @sjobjio

For one ICU nurse in Marquette, Thanksgiving is her sixth day straight working 12-hour shifts caring for COVID-19 patients.

Flickr Creative Commons/Sanofi Pasteur

Several “hundreds of thousands” of doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be distributed to Michigan as early as mid-December, according to the state health department, with one health system publicly predicting Moderna’s vaccine will arrive in early January. 

Image by Jason Shivers from Pixabay

Fearing staffing shortages as COVID-19 hospitalizations are on track to break the state record set this spring, several major Michigan health systems are telling employees to report to work, even if they’ve recently had a close or household contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Brian Vernellis/Holland Sentinel

Eric Kumor has been a nurse for 10 years, but the last few weeks he finds himself having to gear up emotionally just to walk in the door to work.

illustration of nurses and doctors wearing PPE
Kevin Kobsic / United Nations / Unsplash

We’ve been hearing a lot about the numbers of this COVID-19 surge. How many cases. How many deaths.

But healthcare workers want people to understand what it feels like to be back here, fighting this battle again, inside the hospital.

“Initially, there were a lot of feelings of anger.”

Sparrow Hospital entrance in Lansing
Allen Neighborhood Center / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Update, Monday November 16: After a weekend that was "incrementally better" than expected in terms of COVID-19 patient admissions, Sparrow leadership now believe the Lansing hospital will reach full capacity around Thanksgiving, rather than this week. As of Monday, Sparrow was at 81% capacity with 136 COVID patients, according to the state's census. 

"You never know what will happen day to day," says Sparrow spokesperson John Foren. "The latest I saw was conceivably Thanksgiving week. It'll be day to day." 

Ryan Garza for the Detroit Free Press

woman wearing mask
Wikimedia Commons

If the spread of COVID-19 continues at its current trajectory in Michigan, the state is on track to see an average of 100 deaths per day by the end of December, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the state’s Chief Medical Executive, said at a press briefing Thursday.

US District Court Western District of Michigan

Libertas Christian School, a small non-denominational private school in West Michigan, currently remains closed after a federal judge denied its request for an injunction against the Ottawa County Health Department on Tuesday. 

At the state's current trajectory, concerns are growing about overwhelming the healthcare system. And experts are looking at how we adapt our pandemic response to deal with pandemic fatigue.
Brad Gowland / Michigan Radio

Roughly six months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michigan hit a grim threshold on August 14, 2020: 100,000 confirmed and probable cases.

But it took just 80 days after that for cases to double. By November 2nd, the state had 204,326 confirmed and probable cases, including 7,716 deaths.

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

Thursday morning, on a quiet Ann Arbor street, agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Child Exploitation Investigations Unit arrested a master violin teacher and former longtime University of Michigan music professor at his home. 

Stephen Shipps, 68, was charged with two counts of transporting a minor girl across state lines in 2002, “with the intent that such individual engage in sexual activity,” according to an indictment unsealed the same morning. 

THOMAS PARK / Unsplash

Two universities in Michigan are now each reporting more than 1,000 cases in ongoing COVD-19 outbreaks, according to weekly data released Monday by the state health department. Meanwhile, pre-K-12 schools in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are being hit especially hard as those regions remain hot spots for the virus. 

 

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

The Ottawa County health department has temporarily shut down a Christian school in West Michigan, and the related legal battle is one of the first to challenge the state health department's recent orders.

Ottawa County issued a final "cease and desist" letter to Libertas Christian School in Hudsonville this week, alleging the school didn't report two teachers' COVID-19 infections and has refused to provide students' information to contact tracers. A judge denied Libertas Christian's request for a temporary restraining order against the county.

Mladen Borisov for Unsplash

 

For one elementary school teacher, it feels like “the wheels are coming off the bus.” 

It was around the third week of school when her coworker, a fellow teacher at Dieck Elementary in the Flint suburb of Swartz Creek, tested positive for COVID-19.

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