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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Dogs'N'Suds of Muskegon and Montague

For some Michiganders, the potential health risk of a pandemic has made dining out seem like a faint memory. This has been a huge stressor on a majority of the restaurant world, but one little pocket of the industry has been booming. Drive-in restaurants seem to be handling the uncertain times quite nicely.

While other restaurants scramble to add outdoor space and rearrange seating, drive-in restaurants have had to make surprisingly few changes, says David Hosticka. He owns two Dogs 'n Suds locations in Muskegon and Montague. Hosticka said both have been hopping this past summer.

WILL CALLAN / MICHIGAN RADIO

 

Last week, along with the rest of Adrian College’s nearly 2,000 students, Hunter Causie returned to in-person classes.

A COVID-19 outbreak in late August has resulted in more than 11% of students and staff testing positive for the disease, and Causie, a senior, is one of them. For two weeks, classes were held online.

Michigan Tech University from an aerial view
Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Today on Stateside, former Congressman Bart Stupak joins us to talk about the political climate in rural Michigan, and what he observes as the Democratic party moves left. Plus, the Upper Peninsula is dealing with some scary spikes in COVID-19 infection rates. We'll talk to Michigan Tech University's president about how that influenced his decision to pause some face-to-face classes.

While COVID cases have been increasing in dorms, the University says the biggest increases are coming from group housing off-campus.
Katie Raymond

Forty-six Michigan pre-K-12 schools are now reporting COVID-19 outbreaks, according to data released Monday by the state health department. That brings the count to 199 students and staff, although that’s likely a significant undercount: only cases that local health departments can confirm had “shared exposure on school grounds and are from different households” are included in the state’s weekly data updates. 

 

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she will extend the COVID-19 state of emergency. It would otherwise expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

A nurse administers a vaccine.
Rhoda Baer / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

One in three parents do not plan to have their children vaccinated for the seasonal flu this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

And only one third of parents believe that it's more important for their children to get a flu shot this year than in previous years.

That's according to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at Michigan Medicine. 

Courtesy of Andrew Cohn

Today on Stateside, the Upper Peninsula recorded its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases this week, and Houghton County’s public schools will close face-to-face instruction starting Monday for two weeks. We check in with the Western U.P.’s health officer to find out more. Also, a documentary filmmaker’s first feature film, set in Michigan. Plus, a journalist and an organizer on Black voters’ roles in the upcoming presidential election.

3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

The Upper Peninsula recorded its biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases this week. In response, Houghton County Schools will close face-to-face instruction starting Monday for a two-week period. More outbreaks have been noted in Iron, Menominee, and other counties in the western U.P. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan movie theaters and other indoor entertainment venues will soon be allowed to re-open. 

Doors closed at cinemas and similar businesses in March during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan.

But while other businesses have slowly reopened in recent months, indoor movie screens have remained dark.  

Each week we answer some of your pressing questions about the coronavirus and how to stay safe. Email us your questions at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

Courtesy of the artist, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, and MOCAD.

Today on Stateside, a curator who left the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit returned to the institution and spoke with us about working at the overwhelmingly white spaces in the art world. Also, a conversation about the discrepancies in Michigan State University’s number of COVID-19 cases.

Updated at 1:37 p.m. ET

Amid criticism from Democrats that politics may be guiding decisions at the nation's top health agencies, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told Congress on Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine would not be approved until it met "vigorous expectations" for safety and effectiveness.

MSU Belmont Tower
EMMA WINOWIECKI / Michigan Radio

Update, Thursday September 23: Michigan State University has updated its online COVID-19 dashboard to reflect cases reported by the Ingham County Health Department, two days after the county's public health director revealed the health department's case count was far higher than what the university was publicly stating. 

The university notified the public of the change, says spokesman Dan Olsen, by contacting reporters Thursday morning and sending out a notice in the campus newsletter that afternoon. 

"The university’s COVID-19 dashboard now reflects the total number of positive cases of MSU students and employees reported by the Ingham County Health Department," the newsletter reads. "It does not include students and employees tested outside of the county and does not necessarily include those who self-reported a positive case to the university." 

That change means the case numbers listed on MSU's site essentially doubled overnight, from 548 cases at the start of this week, to 1,239 cases since July 27th. A spokesperson for MSU said the university is "continuing our ongoing partnership with [the health department] to report this information weekly (each Monday.)" 

Those case numbers are still slightly lower than the 1,250 MSU-related cases Ingham County Health Director Linda Vail said her department had recorded in the last 30 days. Those cases only include those the health department can verify are MSU students, faculty, or staff, Vail said Tuesdsay, and do not include secondary cases in the broader East Lansing community. 

This story will continue to be updated. 

Original post, Tuesday September 22: Michigan State University is knowingly underreporting the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among students, faculty, and staff, according to information released by the Ingham County Health Department on Tuesday.

In a year that's been plenty scary, this much is clear: Pandemic Halloween will be different than regular Halloween. Many traditional ways of celebrating are now considerably more frightful than usual, because now they bring the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

South Quad residence hall at University of Michigan
University of Michigan

Resident advisors at the University of Michigan are ending their strike after nearly two weeks.

Members voted late Monday night to accept an offer from U of M's housing department.

Belmont Tower at MSU
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

More than 900 students and staff members have been added to the growing list of COVID-19 outbreaks in Michigan’s schools, according to state data released on Monday. And college students account for almost 95% of all school outbreak cases.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Update: Friday, September 18, 6:40 p.m.: The faculty Senate at the University of Michigan has voted "no confidence" in President Mark Schlissel's administration.  

That announcement, however, comes two days after the vote itself took place. That's because the "no confidence" motion was initially ruled to have failed during the September 16 meeting, when 957 faculty members voted in support of the motion, 953 voted in opposition, and 184 said they were abstaining. A majority of all votes cast is required for a motion to pass, and the Senate's interim secretary incorrectly counted those abstentions as part of the total votes. 

"Abstentions should not have been counted as votes, and Motion 6 should have passed," faculty Senate chair Colleen Conway said in an email addressed to all faculty Friday afternoon. "We ask for your patience and understanding while we not only discussed how abstentions should be handled, but we also discussed in depth our concerns about the lack of accessibility to voting experienced by some of our colleagues."

Michigan infant, whose death was tied to COVID, had serious health troubles

Sep 18, 2020
Adobe Stock

A two-month-old boy — who Michigan’s top health official said this week had died from COVID-19 — had serious health conditions beyond the virus.

The child was born with gastroschisis, a birth defect in which a baby’s intestines develop outside the body. The condition was listed as the cause of his death Sunday, according to the Milwaukee County Medical examiner’s office, with the coronavirus as one of two complicating factors.

MICHIGAN.GOV

Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked business owners Thursday to be patient with executive orders and other actions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Whitmer engaged in an online session with the Small Business Association of Michigan.

She said it’s important that businesses be held to the existing standard of taking “reasonable” efforts to provide a safe environment.

a picture of a brick building on Albion College's campus
Albion College

On Stateside, how can schools keep COVID-19 cases under control on campus, while also holding in-person classes? Albion College is hoping that their pandemic pod model might be the answer. Also, why the spectacular skies caused by Western wildfires are a reminder of the collective stakes of climate change. And finally, we hear from members of an artist collective that questions white people's fascination with—and sometimes fetishization of—Indigenous culture.

Spartan stadium
Flickr/Ken Lund / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The Big Ten Conference will play football this fall. After postponing the season – and a lot of behind-the-scenes back and forth since then – the leaders of the member universities voted in favor of a plan to start the season next month.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Doug Tribou on Morning Edition to discuss the decision.

2-month-old baby becomes Michigan's youngest COVID-19 victim

Sep 17, 2020
3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

A 2-month-old from Michigan died this week of COVID-19 and is believed to be the state's youngest victim of the virus.

"Children are not spared from this disease," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, at a news conference Wednesday. "My condolences go out to their parents and family."

Spartan Stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University’s athletic director says it's “probably inevitable” that one or more Big Ten teams won’t be able to play a week or more during the conference’s 2020 football season.

Michigan State University

The state of Michigan is launching a pilot effort to establish a wastewater surveillance system for COVID-19.

Yes, the novel coronavirus can be detected in human poop—even when people are asymptomatic, or have yet to show symptoms. And there are a number of pre-existing wastewater testing programs already running in Michigan.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she supports the Big 10’s decision to allow an abbreviated football season.

That’s after the conference reversed its earlier decision and agreed to protocols to allow football games.
Whitmer said it’s not her decision, but she’ll keep a close eye on how things play out at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

Unsplash

On Stateside, the state Senate passed a bill this week that allows local and county clerks to begin preparing absentee ballots a day ahead of the election. We check in with two clerks on whether the state's election system is ready for a potential wave of absentee ballots as November approaches. Also, a Detroit Free Press reporter updates on the Big Ten’s decision to resume football this fall. Plus, a look at the legacy of the first Black faculty member at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

As the fall semester kicks into gear, college campuses have become the pandemic's newest hot spots. The New York Times reports there are more than 88,000 coronavirus cases at the nation's colleges and universities.

Scott Carlson, a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, isn't surprised by those numbers.

Grand Valley State University
GVSU

Updated: 4:50 p.m. 9/16/20

Students at the Allendale campus of Grand Valley State University have been ordered to remain in their residences for 14 days, with limited exceptions, following a surge of COVID-19 cases on campus.

The public health officer of the Ottawa County Department of Public Health issued the order Wednesday.

There have been 600 cases of COVID-19 reported in the GVSU student population at the Allendale campus since August 24, and the university currently has the highest number of active cases of any school in the state.

EMMA WINOWIECKI / Michigan Radio

The Big Ten has reversed course. There will be college football this fall.

The Big Ten announced Wednesday that the fall football season will begin October 23. The conference has not said when or if other fall sports will also get the go ahead. 

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel at podium
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The president of the University of Michigan, Mark Schlissel, held a livestreamed conversation on Tuesday to address what he described as an “erosion of trust” on a campus, both in him and the administration as a whole, regarding the school’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“If we said [before the start of this semester] ‘Let's not teach in-person at all, too many people are concerned, and people don't feel free to tell us that they're concerned, so let's just not do it,’ there are many, many, many of our students that are disadvantaged,” Schlissel said of the University’s decision to re-open dorms and teach about 22% of the school’s courses in-person, as opposed to almost entirely remote.

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