COVID-19 | Michigan Radio
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COVID-19

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 surge in Michigan, Michigan Radio will be tracking stories about the people impacted, how our healthcare system is faring, what it means for our economy, and more. You can find all of our latest coverage below, or click here to see the latest update of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The feed below also includes national coverage of COVID-19 from NPR.

This is ongoing coverage. 

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man in a mask gets a vaccine from health care worker in a mask
Adobe Stock

Michigan has reached a vaccination rate of 60% for a first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. That's in the population aged 16 and older.

Ten days ago [June 1], there was a major loosening of economic restrictions, with Michigan fully lifting outdoor capacity limits. Indoor places can have 100% capacity on July 1.

City of East Lansing

Universities and the cities they call home often have relationships that are both symbiotic and strained. Some city leaders simply feel ignored by their biggest neighbors. But the COVID-19 pandemic created a new layer to the so-called town-gown dynamic. 


a national cherry festival sign
Pure Michigan

Grand Traverse County has the second-highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in Michigan, but in a few weeks, it’s hosting a festival that could bring in more visitors than the county has residents — with no way to know how many of the tourists are vaccinated.

That raises some thorny questions for health officials and event organizers in Grand Traverse and other tourist-heavy counties in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula: How can they prevent festivals from becoming super-spreader events? How can they make sure their tourism industry doesn’t inadvertently infect their local population, while visitors who seed outbreaks get to go home without facing any consequences?

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Canada is expected to ease its border restrictions for people who have been fully vaccinated, according to multiple reports.

Healthcare workers and other essential services, such as automakers, have been exempted from the restrictions put in place because of the COVID pandemic. But a lot of businesses and people in Canada and the U.S. have not been able to use the nation’s busiest trade border crossing.

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

Today on Stateside, a look at where Michigan stands with COVID-19 infections, vaccinations, and power machinations. Also, an exploration of writer Ernest Hemingway’s summers in northern Michigan. Plus, a West Michigan musician discusses how performance and therapy intersect in her work, and how her creative life has changed amid the pandemic.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This weekend marks the beginning of Michigan’s summer festival and fair season, without COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor events.

Last year was a tough year for many of the businesses that depend on Michigan’s summer festivals and fair.  The coronavirus pandemic forced most to cancel.

But June 1, the state of Michigan lifted restrictions on outdoor events.

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

Like so many other services, Michigan courts went virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, using Zoom, YouTube, and other technology to conduct and broadcast hearings, trials, and other court business. Now, the state says those remote proceedings are here to stay, at least in some cases.

Tom Boyd is the state court administrator for the Michigan Supreme Court. He says all judges and courts in the state court system got Zoom licenses in the summer of 2019, which eased some of the transition to online proceedings.

MDHHS

The state’s top health official says she stands by Michigan’s COVID-19 fatality numbers for the state’s nursing homes. But she concedes other numbers for long-term care facilities “could be low.”

About 30% of all COVID deaths in Michigan during the pandemic are connected to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

a passport, mask, and vaccination record card on a table
Evgenia Parajanian / Adobe Stock

The state, local governments, and school districts could not require people to show proof they’ve been vaccinated under a bill approved Wednesday by the state House, although the bill seems unlikely to become law.

The legislation says public entities cannot refuse to serve people based on their vaccine status. And it says the state cannot create or adopt a vaccine “passport” for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated.

Adobe Stock

New anti-bias rules were made final and official Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The rules require licensed or registered health professionals to undergo training to help recognize and weed out implicit bias.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer traveled to a Lansing health clinic to make the announcement. She said the pandemic in Michigan is being tamed, but the COVID-19 crisis laid bare disparities in who has access to the best health care. 

Samantha Gades via Unsplash

All COVID restrictions on outdoor or residential gatherings will be lifted as of Tuesday, June 1. Restaurants will be allowed to be up to 50% full.

But for the next month, people who haven’t been fully vaccinated are still required to wear masks indoors. The state says it intends to lift “all broad epidemic orders” on July 1. 

So until then, businesses are being asked to make “good faith efforts” to ensure unmasked customers really are vaccinated if they’re indoors. And business owners still have the ability to ask customers, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks - although many major chains like Meijer have already dropped mask requirements for vaccinated customers. 

A new study looks at diagnosing heart damage linked to the COVID-19 in Big Ten athletes.

Doctors examined 1,600 Big Ten college athletes who caught COVID during the pandemic and found 37 had developed a rare heart condition (Myocarditis), where a viral infection causes swelling of the heart.

Myocarditis is a leading cause of sudden death in competitive athletes. 

Adobe Stock

AAA Michigan predicts more than a million Michiganders will be traveling during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Many will be heading up north.

Mike Kent is with Traverse City Tourism. He’s expecting an “outstanding” weekend after a year of uncertainty because of COVID-19.

michigan quarter in a pile of change
calvste / Adobe Stock

A respected University of Michigan economic report says Michigan’s post-COVID-19 recovery is already underway and will likely continue.

But it also says a full recovery may take a while.

Gabriel Ehrlich leads the U of M Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics. State government relies heavily on it in its decisions.

office cubicles
Adolfo Félix / Unsplash

When Michigan's COVID-19 restrictions for office work ended this week, the change raised many questions for employees and employers preparing to return to work in-person.

With more than half of adult Americans now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, many employers have started laying the groundwork to get back to the office.

Returning to a post-pandemic workplace can be daunting — even more so as employers attempt to navigate safety and consider the sometimes-thorny issue of vaccine mandates.

A large number of Americans still say they are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving employers to decide about how to handle employee health and safety.

Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Faith leaders stood alongside Detroit public school officials in calling for more teachers to get vaccinated and return to classrooms. 

“We have a superintendent, we have a board that are working together to make sure that our school system is ready to receive children,” said Bishop Charles Ellis of Greater Grace Temple. “But we must not just have good buildings, sanitized buildings. We need the workforce.” 

Only about 600 teachers have returned to classrooms out of about 3,000, according to Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. An agreement with the district’s teachers union made teaching in-person voluntary.

Jill Biden wearing sunglasses and clapping
Gage Skidmore / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

First Lady Jill Biden visited Grand Rapids Thursday. She's promoting the emerging partnership between community colleges and pharmacies.

It’s all part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to create pop-up vaccination sites on campuses across the country.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she wants to use federal COVID relief funds and a surprise increase in state tax revenue to invest more in public education in Michigan.

Whitmer’s proposes $1.7 billion in one-time funding and over $900 million for ongoing investment. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey
senatormikeshirkey.com

Ingham County’s top health official says claims by Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey about the “natural immunity” of people who have had COVID-19 are incorrect.

Shirkey tweeted Tuesday that Michigan’s immunity totals should be the sum of those who have been vaccinated plus those who have been infected and recovered.

Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

It’ll be an “interesting test.” That’s how Wendy Hirschenberger, health officer for Grand Traverse County, is looking at the weeks ahead.

“For me as an epidemiologist, between now and July 1, it'll be interesting to see what happens with our [case] numbers,” Hirschenberger said Tuesday at a Munson Health press conference.

michigan state university sign in front of a blue sky
https://www.michiganstateuniversityonline.com/about/michigan-state/

A Michigan State University academic governance group is recommending requiring anyone on campus this fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Michigan State University Council voted 87 to 11 during a special meeting Tuesday to recommend mandatory vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff participating in on-campus activities. The resolution exempts certain individuals, like people with religious objections or those medically unable to get a vaccine.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Budget negotiations between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders will re-start this week with new numbers to work with.

A board made up of the state treasurer and House and Senate fiscal experts determined Friday that Michigan’s budget picture is much better than expected – with a $2 billion windfall. Some of that is due to the economic recovery. Some of it is federal COVID-19 assistance.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A worker, sitting at her desk, fingers poised on the keyboard. Busy hallways. Occupied meeting rooms. Mundane scenes that returned Monday, bringing – to some at least – a twinge of excitement.

“It feels great to be back in the office,” said Steelcase CEO Jim Keane on Monday morning, smiling mask-less in a sun-lit office area inside the company’s Grand Rapids headquarters.

ADOLFO FELIX / UNSPLASH

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday loosened COVID-19 workplace safety rules so fully vaccinated employees can go without a mask and disregard distancing requirements.

Industry-specific regulations were rescinded. Restaurants and bars, for instance, can reopen pool tables and dance floors. Cleaning standards were softened.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has apologized after apparently violating state-mandated social distancing guidelines at a local restaurant. The Detroit Free Press reports Sunday that a photo circulated on social media shows Whitmer with a large group of unmasked people at an East Lansing bar and grill.

The photo, which shows Whitmer seated with about a dozen people, was posted on social media by one of the attendees, but later deleted.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Whitmer and Michigan lawmakers have $26.3 billion to work with to draw up the next state budget. That number is $2 billion dollars more than initially anticipated as the state dealt with the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

“I’m delighted to say we’re in a much better place today than we were a year ago,” said Michigan Treasurer Rachel Eubanks.

James Marvin Phelps via Flickr Creative Commons

outdoor concert
Adobe Stock

Michigan will fully lift outdoor capacity limits on June 1 and, starting July 1, end indoor gathering caps that were put in place to curb COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday in a major loosening of economic restrictions.

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

Governor Gretchen Whitmer rolled out a “blueprint” Wednesday outlining post-COVID-19 return-to-school plans. The recommendations focus heavily on addressing racial and economic inequality, but would require buy-in from school districts and the Legislature to become a reality.

“Budgets are a reflection of values,” she told the group “Mothering Justice” shortly after releasing the plan. “How we invest state funds must be based on what the people need.”

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