Sarah Cwiek | Michigan Radio
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Sarah Cwiek

Sarah Cwiek - Detroit Reporter/Producer

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October, 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit. Before her arrival at Michigan Radio, Sarah worked at WDET-FM as a reporter and producer.

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The rising number of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan has prompted the state to activate the Michigan Mortuary Response Team (MI-MORT) for the first time in its history.

MI-MORT is a collaborative effort of approximately 40 volunteers from across the state, including medical examiners and investigators, law enforcement, forensic scientists, chaplains and funeral directors.

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday urged Governor Gretchen Whitmer to re-open portions of the medical system that have been closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying some people’s medical needs are “being neglected.”

Whitmer put a freeze on “non-essential” medical and dental procedures on March 20, citing the need to conserve health care resources as the pandemic was surging.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city is ready to jumpstart some construction projects that were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but only with health protections in place.

All workers will need to get a COVID-19 test before they go back to work. They’ll also be required to wear masks, and employers will need to perform daily temperature screenings and symptom checks.

City of Detroit

The city of Detroit says it’s now tested all residents at its 26 nursing homes for COVID-19, and the next step is to test all nursing home staff.

Staff testing will be available for free at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds drive-thru testing site. That will become mandatory on May 11.

hands under pouring water
mrjn Photography / Unsplash

In a letter to the state, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says it’s aware of fewer than 10 homes that continue to be without water service.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered that all municipalities reconnect households that had been shut off for nonpayment during the COVID-19 crisis. Detroit launched a program in early March that allows households to reconnect for $25, then an additional $25 per month for the duration of the pandemic.

white casket with flowers on top being carried by pallbearers
Pixabay

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it here in Michigan.

It’s also changed death.

As more people die from the disease, funeral homes are making radical adjustments to help families mourn their loved ones without putting more lives in danger.

Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek has spoken with some funeral directors about the changes they’re making. Here is a summary of what they reported.

rollingroscoe / Morguefile

A new lawsuit demands the release of medically vulnerable inmates from the Oakland County Jail while the COVID-19 pandemic rages.

The civil rights groups behind the lawsuit call for the immediate release of inmates with conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order last month allowing those people to be released early, so long as they don’t pose a threat to public safety, as well as others serving time for things like traffic offenses or failure to appear in court.

City of Detroit

Detroit Police Chief James Craig is back on the job full-time after recovering from COVID-19.

Craig appeared at a Thursday press conference alongside Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. He urged others with the disease to “fight to survive.”

Oakland County

One Oakland County hospital has run out of space to store deceased COVID-19 patients, so those bodies are headed to the county morgue.

County officials aren’t naming the hospital. But several southeast Michigan hospitals have struggled to find enough store storage space for bodies of the pandemic’s victims.

Jake Neher / via oakgov.com

Oakland County is opening up its own drive-thru COVID-19 testing site on the county government’s Pontiac campus.

It will only test people with COVID-19 symptoms. It will focus on first responders, essential business employees, and Pontiac residents to start.

flickr user Stephan Ridgway / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s climbing number of COVID-19 deaths hasn’t taxed county morgues beyond capacity so far. But it is taxing the capacity of some hospitals and funeral homes.

The state is looking into providing alternative storage space, such as refrigerated trailers, according to the Michigan Hospital Association.

Beaumont Health

Beaumont Health is launching what it believes to be the largest study in the country to date to test people for COVID-19 antibodies.

The serological blood-testing study looks to answer some crucial questions about the body’s immune response to COVID-19, including: how much immunity does having had COVID-19 provide? And how long does that immunity last?

sign in detroit
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said on Friday that the city’s rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths are rising more slowly—but that’s “nothing to celebrate.”

On Friday, Detroit reported 6,218 COVID-19 cases and 327 deaths. While it saw its biggest single-day spike in deaths on Friday, Duggan said the doubling rate of deaths has been stretched from 3-4 days to 7-8 days.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Macomb County is putting plans to build a new jail—and ask voters to fund it—on hold because of COVID-19.

Plans to either renovate the jail or build a new one have been in the works for years. County officials say the current facility is outdated, and dangerous for both inmates and staff.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

In Detroit, which has been ravaged by COVID-19, Mayor Mike Duggan has made mass testing the centerpiece of his administration’s response.

“The way we beat this is through testing, and knowing who’s infected and who’s not, so we can separate," Duggan has said.

Some may wonder what benefits mass testing provides at this stage in the pandemic. After all, we know it’s here and that it’s spreading. And testing may not change any individual patient’s treatment.

But experts say widespread testing is crucial for public health — and can be vital for patients as well.


DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti
Detroit Public Schools Community District

The Detroit Public Schools Community District will start making assignments and teacher instruction videos available next week, according to the district’s superintendent, Nikolai Vitti.

Online course materials will be posted on the district’s website. Paper copies will also be available at sites throughout the district, starting at its food distribution centers.

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.

City of Detroit Health Department

Detroit continues to be hit hard by COVID-19.  But Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says efforts are underway to provide testing to every Detroiter who needs it.

As of Tuesday, Detroit reported 2,086 COVID-19 cases, and 73 deaths.

Paulette Parker / Michgian Radio

This week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says Detroit will become one of the first cities in the nation to use rapid-response COVID-19 testing kits.

Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories is providing the tests. They were just approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and can give results in as little as 15 minutes.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District

Hospitals across southeast Michigan are scrambling for more space and staff to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, as the need surges across the region with no end in sight.

As of Sunday, Michigan reported 5,486 COVID-19 cases, with 132 deaths. Those numbers are guaranteed to continue climbing over at least the next several weeks, pushing local hospitals past capacity.

Illustration of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

President Donald Trump has approved Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request for a major disaster declaration in Michigan.

That means Michigan is now eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan now has among the most COVID-19 cases in the country. As of Friday, that number was 3,657, with 92 reported deaths.

But the state has tested far fewer people relative to other states with similarly high numbers.

City of Detroit Health Department

Metro Detroit has become one of the nation’s COVID-19 hotspots. And experts predict the situation will get even more dire in the next several weeks.

The city of Detroit is a hotspot within the hotspot. As of Thursday, the city reported 888 COVID-19 cases, with 19 deaths so far.


detroit skyline
Wikimedia commons

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan warned on Thursday that southeast Michigan is already a national COVID-19 hotspot—and the worst is still to come.

Detroit itself is a huge hotspot within southeast Michigan. The city is reporting 888 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. 19 people have already died.

detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The hard-hit Detroit Police Department is taking new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the new protocols should start this week.

Mike Duggan
detroitmi.gov

The former Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit will have a new use starting Friday: as a drive-through testing site for COVID-19.

The new testing site is a partnership between the city of Detroit, three local health systems—Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Medical Center, and Trinity Health—and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. Those three counties account for nearly 85% of Michigan’s COVID-19 cases right now.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Detroit is turning on water service to thousands of households that had been shut off—but some say it’s moving too slowly.

Detroit established an affordable program to restore and prevent shutoffs for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Friday, the city’s water department had restored service to 434 households.

detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Five Detroit police officers have tested positive for COVID-19, and a total of 152 are quarantined, Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced Friday.

The 152 officers represent around 7% of the roughly 2200 Detroit police officers.

test with bubble answers
mehmet / Adobe Stock

If Michigan students return to classrooms this school year, they won’t have to take the M-STEP test.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Friday that students in states that have closed schools will not have to take federally-mandated assessments this year.

a ventilator with tubes coming out of it
Adobe Stock Images

As cases of the novel coronavirus surge in Michigan and nationwide, Ford and GM have been talking with the federal government about possibly re-tooling some plants to make ventilators.

Both automakers temporarily suspended production this week due to the coronavirus. Now, they’ve confirmed that they’ve talked with the government about switching production to ventilators and other medical equipment.

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