Will Callan | Michigan Radio

Will Callan


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.


Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office might bring charges against long-term care facilities that don’t follow an executive order designed to protect residents and staff. 


“Willful violations of this executive order are considered a misdemeanor offense, which carry a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail,” read a Thursday press release



Some of the first volunteers in a new COVID-19 vaccine trial received their injections at Henry Ford Health System on Wednesday.


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a bill that would have had serious implications for nursing home residents recovering from COVID-19. 

Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Charter Township) was the bill’s sponsor. He’s says that the governor’s policy of placing recovering COVID patients in so-called regional hubs has resulted in loss of lives. 


Henry Ford Health System will recruit up to 5,000 participants for a phase-three COVID-19 vaccine trial.


Ann Arbor City Council members have voted unanimously to award the non-profit Recycle Ann Arbor a 10-year contract to run the city’s materials recovery facility.

The facility hasn’t sorted recyclables since 2016, when it was shut down for unsafe working conditions. 


Recycle Ann Arbor will raise and invest more than $5 million to upgrade the facility with high-tech machines like optic sorters and ballistic separators, says Bryan Ukena, the company’s CEO. 



In late May, the Kalamazoo County Health Department joined what looked to be a promising COVID-19 testing effort. 

Working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the state police, three-person teams from the Michigan National Guard fanned across the state, testing staff and residents in long-term care facilities, inmates in county jails, and thousands of individuals at temporary drive-through sites. 



Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that seeks to establish entirely separate facilities for nursing home residents with COVID-19. 

The state Senate has already voted in favor of the bill.


The number of people getting tested for COVID-19 in Michigan is on the rise. But in order to maintain quick turnaround times for results — a prerequisite for an effective public health response — some of the labs that process those tests are turning away new clients.

Last week, Michigan was completing more than 24,000 COVID-19 tests a day, based on a rolling 7-day average. At the start of July, average daily testing was less than 17,000.


Labs that process COVID-19 tests in Michigan are taking several days to get results back to nursing homes, according to the state health department.

More facilities are testing residents and staff in order to comply with a June directive from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 


That order requires facilities with active COVID-19 cases to test staff and residents weekly until 14 days have passed since the last positive test. Facilities in medium to high-risk parts of the state — as of Friday, all of them — must test staff weekly, regardless of whether the virus has been detected. 


Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Every weekday at 2 p.m., 81-year-old Gladys Acklin settles into her couch to watch the soap opera “General Hospital.” 

“We both like Sonny,” she says. “He’s the mobster.... And his hit man Jason. We like him too. We like all the crooks.” 


When Ms. Acklin says we, she’s including Jean Reinbold, a social worker, but also a friend. Since the lockdown began back in March, Reinbold has been calling Ms. Acklin, who lives alone, quite a lot. 


The financial strain caused by COVID-19 is forcing a Muskegon nursing home to close its doors. In a press release issued Thursday, management said Sanctuary at the Park was less than half-full due to a reduction in hospital transfers. 

“Sanctuary at the Park was built and staffed for 99 residents, but currently is only caring for a very small number of individuals,” said administrator Julie Winkle, in the release. “This decline in residents and reduced hospital referrals due to COVID-19 make it unsustainable to continue operations.”


Sen. Peter Lucido

The Michigan Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would require the state health department to identify facilities for the exclusive care of nursing home residents with COVID-19. The legislation next goes to the House Committee on Health Policy. 

Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Charter Township), who sponsored the bill, defended it during the Senate session. 


“This bill is for the benefit of those who cannot be admitted into a hospital,” he said. “These are the ones that don’t meet the threshold for a hospital. Those individuals, this bill is aimed to protect.”

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr.

The state Senate is expected to vote on Wednesday on a bill that some say would further protect residents in skilled nursing facilities from COVID-19. 

Introduced by Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Charter Township), the bill would require that the state establish facilities for the exclusive care of nursing home residents recovering from COVID-19. It charges the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services with deciding how the state would go about finding or building these facilities. 

Sen. Peter Lucido

In an often emotional hearing that raised more questions than it answered, the state Senate health policy committee heard testimony on a bill that would prohibit nursing homes without COVID-19 positive patients from caring for patients with the disease. 

Nursing home residents account for more than one third of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths, according to the state health department. 



Nearly 2,000 nursing home residents in Michigan have died of COVID-19, making up about 34% of the state’s total deaths from the disease. That figure was announced on Monday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

person in wheelchair being consoled
Gundula Vogel / Pixabay

Update: June 5, 2020 11:25 p.m.

Data released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about COVID-19 in U.S. nursing homes appears to be partially inaccurate. Michigan Radio’s data analyst Brad Gowland reviewed the federal agency’s numbers and found that for 32 skilled nursing facilities in Michigan, the total number of COVID-19 resident deaths was greater than the total number of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents.


Michigan is currently reporting more than 2,300 COVID-19 cases in nursing homes. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the number of deaths is 748. That’s nearly 15% of the state’s COVID deaths.


But information about how well Michigan’s nursing homes have controlled the spread of COVID-19 has been limited. 



Without proper controls, infection will spread quickly through a nursing home. It’s one reason states have been grappling with the question of where to put elderly patients who’ve mostly recovered from COVID-19, but are still testing positive.

Connecticut has designated facilities that will care for COVID patients exclusively, while New York, rewinding a previous strategy, is requiring that nursing-home residents test negative before being discharged to a facility.

In Michigan, the state has selected about 20 facilities to take on these patients. As of today, all of them exist as separate units within nursing homes, many of whose residents have not tested positive for COVID.


Michigan’s first field hospital is no longer accepting COVID-19 patients, less than a month after opening its doors to the public. COVID-19 hospitalizations are leveling off, and health systems no longer need TCF’s beds as an option for overflow. 

The TCF Regional Care Center, in downtown Detroit, opened on Friday, April 10, and admitted its first patient that Sunday. On May 1, MDHHS confirmed that the field hospital would accept no more transfers, and the final patient was discharged on Wednesday. All told, the hospital cared for 39 people.


The TCF Regional Care Center in downtown Detroit is down to its final seven patients. 


According to Michelle Grinnell, a spokesperson for the facility, the field hospital stopped admitting new patients last week after health officials and hospital leadership noted “health data improvements” and a “reduction in hospital surge capacity overload” across Michigan. 



More than 2,800 of Michigan’s nursing-home residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Two weeks ago the state issued new rules for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities intended to curb the spread of the virus through these vulnerable communities. As of Wednesday, the median age of those who had died from the disease was 76. 



Nearly 2,200 nursing home residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data released by the state for the first time today

In a press conference Friday, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical officer, said there are 2,198 confirmed cases in nursing homes, the vast majority (75%) of which are in southeast Michigan. Out of the state’s 458 facilities, only two-thirds have submitted data. 

Markus Spiske on Unsplash

As lawmakers debate how we can safely start returning to normal life, here’s what you need to know about this “plateau” in Michigan cases, and how the experts say we can avoid a second surge.


In a Thursday press conference, Henry Ford Hospital System’s chief clinical officer expressed measured confidence over the question of unstable drug supplies for COVID-19 patients. 


Dr. Betty Chu said the hospital system was “comfortable” with its current stock of sedatives, but acknowledged that maintaining it would be “an ongoing problem — especially if we see a second surge of patients.” 



On Thursday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the TCF Center would begin accepting its first 25 COVID-19 patients.

The announcement also stated that Henry Ford Health System, Beaumont Health, McLaren Health and Detroit Medical Center would be stepping in to provide administrative support, and that a FEMA strike team would provide initial staffing.

Ascension Borgess Hospital
Imzadi1979 / Wikimedia Commons

The health care system Ascension Michigan has issued an updated staff re-assignment policy to its medical workers.

Ascension sent the policy to the Michigan Nurses Association and MNA shared it with Michigan Radio.


A major healthcare network, Ascension Michigan, will be working with health department officials to run Michigan’s second field hospital for COVID-19 patients, according to a Tuesday press release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office. 

Ali Hammoud, University of Michigan Medical School

When hospital rotations were placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of Michigan’s third- and fourth-year medical students wondered how they could stay useful. 

Within a few days, a handful of student-led volunteer groups popped up around the state, assisting medical workers and community members with tasks like mask-collection, childcare and food delivery.