Will Callan | Michigan Radio
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Will Callan

Reporter

Will Callan, a reporter for Michigan Radio, hails from the Bay Area, where he lived in Oakland and San Francisco and reported for local newspapers and magazines. He enjoys a long swim in chilly water (preferably followed by a sauna) and getting to know new cities. That's one reason he's excited to be in Ann Arbor, which he can already tell has just the right combo of urban grit and natural beauty to make him feel at home.

ADOBE STOCK

As of last week, 2,134 long-term care facilities in Michigan had completed their first COVID-19 vaccination clinic with either Walgreens or CVS. Many locations are gearing up for their second clinic this week.

Staff members overall have been more hesitant about getting a shot than the residents in these facilities. Some, as they make their decision, are reflecting on a tough year.

Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

It’s going to take about a week for the state’s lab to answer an urgent question.

“Can we take some more proactive and aggressive action [against the more contagious COVID-19 variant] and really control these clusters that we're currently seeing?” Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, a Washtenaw County Health Department spokesperson, said Monday. “Or is, in fact, the variant already circulating more than we've detected?”

ADOBE STOCK

More than half a million Michiganders have received a first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the state's health department. But a smaller cohort, as participants in clinical trials, have received vaccines made by other companies.

DONFIORE / ADOBE STOCK

Michigan’s COVID-19 cases continue to plateau, hospitalizations continue to decline, and the seven-day average percentage of tests coming back positive fell to 7.6% over the week ending January 16.

Those are three takeaways from an epidemiology update hosted Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

From southwest Michigan to the Upper Peninsula, rural health departments are warning residents of a “severely limited” vaccine supply, “a high volume of calls,” and “full capacity for our clinics.”

What that's meant for Steve Hall, health officer at the Central Michigan District Health Department, is having to continually “shift on the fly.”

ADOBE STOCK

COVID-19 vaccinations will begin at a handful of Meijer pharmacies in Wayne County this week.

Prioritizing patients who are 65 or older, Meijer expects to give shots to 1,950 people — two shipments' worth of Pfizer doses — within a few days of receiving the doses.

Meijer’s director of corporate communications Frank Guglielmi says those shipments should arrive early this week.

ADOBE STOCK

Vaccinations are underway at Michigan’s long-term care facilities. Data from CVS show the pharmacy had distributed over 20,000 doses as of Friday.

Walgreens doesn’t provide the same state-level data, but says it expects to administer all first doses for those residents and staff who want them by January 25.

DONFIORE / ADOBE STOCK

Health officials believe that if it hasn't already, a new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus will soon land in Michigan. 

Two labs are on the lookout.

The state lab in Lansing and a research lab at the University of Michigan are actively sequencing genetic material from positive COVID-19 test samples to see if the variant — which was first identified in the U.K., and appears to spread more quickly — is present.

DONFIORE / ADOBE STOCK

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and outbreaks continued to decline statewide over the week ending Saturday, January 2, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

But case numbers appear to be plateauing, and state officials say holiday gatherings could drive a spike.

GUNDULA VOGEL / PIXABAY

Chronic issues in Michigan’s long-term care facilities were deepened in 2020 by the pandemic.

Public health measures often had the unintended consequence of forcing residents into isolation and loneliness. National studies show those conditions can have negative health impacts on older adults, and in some cases bring on an earlier death.

MXOBE: https://tinyurl.com/ycsj5z4p

Kalamazoo County commissioners have a year to plan before a new affordable housing millage goes into effect.

The property tax, passed in November, will raise over $6 million in that first year, two thirds of which will go toward affordable housing development, and the other third toward rental assistance and services like career counseling.

This November the measure prevailed by just 2.5 percentage points, a margin that county commissioner Zac Bauer says “we’re not overlooking.”

ADOBE STOCK

More than 5,000 long-term care facilities in Michigan are expected to receive the Moderna vaccine from either CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens in the coming weeks, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Through a partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pharmacy chains will set up three vaccination clinics at each enrolled site over a 12-week period.

KARAGRUBIS / ADOBE STOCK

One assumption among those who study housing discrimination has been that it’s more likely to occur in wealthier, whiter enclaves.

That was the hypothesis of researchers at the University of Michigan who analyzed incidents reported to the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit in order to understand how discrimination broke down across the region.

KATIE RAYMOND / MICHIGAN RADIO

Ten city-owned properties in Ann Arbor could become affordable housing sites over the next 10 years, which would put a sizable dent in the city’s goal of creating 2,800 affordable housing units by 2035.

A property tax approved by 73% of voters in November — effective July 2021, and expected to raise $6.5 million in its first year — would help fund those properties’ development.

DONFIORE / ADOBE STOCK

The coronavirus’s footprint in Michigan continues to shrink.

During a Wednesday Zoom call with reporters, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services presented data showing statewide declines in COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, and the percentage of tests coming back positive during the week that ended December 19.

SJ OBJIO FOR UNSPLASH @SJOBJIO

Staff at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in the Upper Peninsula will be joining Michigan’s largest nurses’ union.

The health care workers tallied their mail-in votes this week, with 35 voting in favor of joining the Michigan Nurses Association, and 17 voting against.

Kelly Engle, who’s been a nurse at the hospital for 10 years, says nurses and administrators alike were overwhelmed in the spring when decisions had to be made about caring for COVID-19 patients.


WILL CALLAN / MICHIGAN RADIO

Nurses, housekeepers, and other frontline workers at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs hospital received their first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

The Ann Arbor site was the only VA hospital in Michigan to receive doses this week and one of 37 in the U.S. selected for their ability to vaccinate a large number of people and manage the Pfizer vials, which require ultra-cold storage.

COURTESY OF MERCY HEALTH

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan continue to decline steadily at the state level.

As of Thursday, the number of confirmed COVID patients in hospitals statewide was more than 3,539, which includes pediatric patients, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The number of confirmed adult patients in the intensive care unit was 830.

HALFPOINT / ADOBE STOCK

At first, Dakima Jackson wanted to be a dentist. But, to support herself while studying, she got a job at an adult foster care home, and quickly “fell in love with working with seniors.”

She changed career paths, and for her next job, moved to another type of facility: a nursing home.

“Working at the nursing home, I was … just eager to spread myself around,” she said. “I decided that I would work at assisted living as well, because I wanted to know the difference.”

During the week she clocked into the nursing home. Weekends she spent at the assisted living facility.

DUSTIN DWYER / MICHIGAN RADIO

Applications for shoreline protection permits tripled this year compared to last, according to Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The department granted 2,284 permits in the year ending September 30, compared to 730 permits the previous year. Most of those permits went to residential property owners wanting to protect their homes from rising water levels.

Often those permits allow the construction of rock walls as a barricade against encroaching waves.

JOEL SAGET / AFP via GETTY IMAGES

Appearing before the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic last week, state health department director Robert Gordon said that residents and staff in long-term care facilities would be one of the first groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. 

Many nursing homes will be receiving their doses free of charge from a large pharmacy chain, through a program organized by the CDC.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

During the month of November alone, the number of people who died from COVID-19 doubled in certain hospitals and health systems across Michigan. 

Sparrow Health System recorded 50 deaths between March and October. In November, it recorded 47. (Those numbers are considered unofficial, and could change after officials review the medical records.)

Similar trends were recorded in Muskegon County and Ottawa County, both in West Michigan.

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Officials in southeast Michigan are increasing access to COVID-19 testing in response to colder weather and rising infections in the area.

Oakland County is moving a number of its testing sites indoors.

“It turns out fire stations are a wonderful place to do them because they have the large doors and you can drive through them,” said David Coulter, the county executive.

Starting November 30, the following locations will be open by appointment for free drive-thru testing:

GEORG ARTHUR PFLUEGER / UNSPLASH

People with loved ones in long-term care facilities are making the most out of this year's incomplete Thanksgiving gatherings.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance this week urging that residents stay in their facilities to avoid coronavirus infection. Many residents will be confined to their rooms.

COURTESY OF HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM

Researchers at the University of Michigan say that as many as two thirds of older adults in the U.S. would like to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

In an October survey, the university’s National Poll on Healthy Aging heard from 1,556 Americans between 50 and 80 years old about their opinions on immunization against the coronavirus.

Depending on the wording of the question, as many as 66% of respondents said they would get vaccinated. But only 20% said they would do so as soon as a vaccine became available.

PAULETTE PARKER / MICHIGAN RADIO

A potential COVID-19 vaccine tested at Henry Ford Health System is showing promising early results.

Interim data for the vaccine, developed by the drug company Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, shows 94.5% efficacy in producing antibodies that defend against the virus.

COURTESY OF TORY KAMERLING

Mari Esther Sheets is more powerful than she seems. The cancer and stroke survivor is 55. She lives at Samaritas, a nursing home in Grand Rapids. And because she’s so young — and aware — she can speak up for other residents in the facility.

Tory Kamerling, her boyfriend, describes her as an advocate.

The couple spoke with Michigan Radio’s Will Callan about being apart during COVID-19, and what it was like when the virus overran the facility.

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