COVID-19 | Michigan Radio


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. 

Helpful posts:

Have you been affected by coronavirus? We want to hear from you. Submit a tip.

Courtesy Photo

Need some restorative listening? Look no further. This is Getting Through, a new series where we cover the stories and sounds of how we’re staying grounded during this really challenging moment.

In this installment, we cook a meal with shane bernardo (who uses they and him pronouns and prefers their name lower-case). For bernardo, cooking cultural foods has been a practice to stay grounded during the past few months. bernardo is Filipino, a life-long Detroiter, and uses food as a medium for healing.

A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine during a drive-thru clinic.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Detroit on Monday immediately expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older, a week earlier than planned, as Michigan continues to confront spiking infection rates that rank third-highest in the country.

Mayor Mike Duggan said the seven-day testing positivity rate in the state’s largest city doubled in 10 days, to 10.3%. Hospitalizations also doubled over that period but, unlike during the second wave of cases last fall, involve younger people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

“The younger people are getting infected. The younger people are being hospitalized. We have got to start to get them vaccinated,” Duggan said.

elderly person in wheelchair holding hands with another person
Adobe Stock

Democrats are blasting a Republican-backed budget bill that would give local prosecutors money to investigate Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 response.

Republicans say the $1.25 million measure is necessary because they’re not getting the information needed to investigate nursing homes deaths. Democrats say that’s because the evidence does not exist to back the GOP claims.

Michigan Health and Hospital Association

The number of people in their thirties and forties being admitted to Michigan hospitals with COVID-19 now matches those numbers from the state’s fall-winter surge, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

testing swab
Shutterstock image

With Michigan in the midst of rising cases again in the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Clair County is being hit especially hard. St. Clair County's average test positivity rate over the last two weeks, at 20.3%, is nearly double the statewide average. The county's hospitalization rate is currently the highest in the state, and is more than double the hospitalization rate in the next hardest hit county, Crawford. 

teacher kneeling at desk, showing students papers
twinsterphoto / Adobe Stock

The remainder of the school year could be in doubt if Michigan communities don’t take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. That’s the message from some school superintendents in Wayne County.

The superintendents say that currently, they’re committed to continuing in-person learning and school-related activities. They say they’re being vigilant about precautions—and they’re confident that classroom transmission is relatively rare.

But cases in the community inevitably mean cases in schools. And that’s led to disruptive mass student quarantines in many districts.

Tim Folkert / Saugatuck Center for the Arts

Today, on Stateside, we talk to an epidemiologist from the University of Michigan about what worries her about the state’s rising COVID-19 numbers. Plus, we hear from Jordan Hamilton—a Kalamazoo-based cellist—about live performance and making music during a year of pandemic.

3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

The death toll from COVID-19 in Michigan officially surpassed 16,000 thousand today. That’s as the state races to vaccinate more people while the number of confirmed infections rise, and the number of people hospitalized because of the virus is at its highest level since January.

While the expanded availability has given a sign of hope for many in the state, public health leaders warn the risks of the virus haven’t gone away just yet.

mom in red dress, girl in pink dress, boy in blue jacket and red tie
Courtesy of Charisse Tuell

A lot of kids in the Lansing School District will have to wait a little longer to go back to the classroom.

Some students with special needs were set to return to in-person learning this week. Then the district pushed their start date to March 29, and on Wednesday, pushed it back again to April 12. That’s because of a spike of COVID cases in the area.

Also, some families that had been planning to join in-person classes recently learned they don't have the option anymore.

Idalis Pagan didn’t think it would be so long before she got to see her uncles. But if she can travel to the prison, like she plans to in the next month, new rules will allow her to give them each two real hugs.

Miguel and David are like older brothers to her. One is at Chippewa County prison, nearly 300 miles away from her home in Grand Rapids. The other was recently moved to another lockup.

File photo. State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday resubmitted 17 appointments to state boards and commissions that were rejected earlier by the state Senate.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday in a veto letter to the Legislature that she won’t sign away her administration’s power to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Republicans are still trying to rein in the different ways Whitmer has employed emergency powers to address COVID-19 in Michigan. This latest effort tied the power to spend $300 million in federal COVID funds with the state health department returning to the Legislature every 28 days to seek approval of COVID-related emergency orders.

Courtesy of the City of Grand Rapids

Public governing bodies across the state are facing an important deadline as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Michigan.

An amendment to the State's Open Meetings Act, signed into law on December 23, 2020, is set to expire on March 31. The amendment allows virtual public meetings for any reason.

Michigan Health and Hospital Association

COVID-19 hospitalizations are spiking again in Michigan, and this time younger people are driving much of that trend, showing that “adults of any age are vulnerable to complications from the disease,” according to data from the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

The MHA says older adults are still more likely to be hospitalized with COVID. But in this latest spike, more younger people are being hospitalized too, and the percentage increase among older adults is much smaller.

3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, COVID-19 cases are surging again in Michigan, with more outbreaks happening at K-12 schools. A reporter talks us through the latest data. Also, how one of Detroit’s first Black educator helped desegregate Detroit schools and bring the concept of kindergarten to Michigan. Plus, the founder of Detroit Vs. Everybody discusses his latest collaboration.

a classroom of empty colorful chairs
Flickr user Frank Juarez / Creative Commons

K-12 schools continued to be the largest source of Michigan COVID-19 outbreaks last week, according to state data.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 63 new school outbreaks last week. That’s up from the prior week, when schools surpassed long-term care facilities as the top source of COVID outbreaks in the state. The state also reports 144 ongoing school outbreaks.

Hospital Clínic Barcelona @franciscoavia

The rapid rise in COVID hospitalizations over the last few weeks has health officials worried, but still hoping vaccinations can help curb the fallout of climbing case counts.

As of Tuesday, more than 1,500 adults and 21 children are currently in the hospital with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state’s dashboard.

That’s still far lower than the peaks in November and last spring, when some 4,000 Michiganders were hospitalized. And it’s “too soon to tell” whether this is the start of yet another spike, said Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s appointment of the state health department stands confirmed. The state Senate had until Tuesday to reject the appointment of Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel.

Hertel is a department veteran who’s already played a major role in the Whitmer administration’s COVID-19 response. And that’s rankled Republicans who say the Whitmer administration’s used health orders to circumvent the Legislature.

Gabriella Clare Marino / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we talk about how the pandemic has reshaped public spaces in Michigan. Two urban planners weigh in on whether some of those changes should stay for good. Plus, a conversation with acclaimed Detroit documentary filmmaker dream hampton. Her 2019 docuseries Surviving R. Kelly sparked a national reckoning on Kelly's long history of abusive behavior.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report shows more than a third of Michigan households were struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Way’s 2021 ALICE report documents the challenges facing Michigan’s working poor families.   ‘ALICE’ stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. 

These so-called 'ALICE' families typically work for minimal hourly working wages that do not cover the basic costs of living. 

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

Detroit is taking its campaign to vaccinate residents against COVID-19 to more places in the city.

The city is opening up “Community Saturdays” at eight sites, mostly churches. Previously, these Saturday clinics were open only to seniors. Now, they’re also open to any adult Detroiter who has a job that requires in-person work.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says it’s part of an effort to reach the zip codes hit hardest by the pandemic, and people who don’t have easy access to the TCF Center mass vaccination site.

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This is the last week before the Legislature is expected to take its spring break.

The Legislature’s Democratic leaders said that recess should not begin without a vote on appropriating another round of federal COVID-19 response funds.

House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) said that money could help schools pay for COVID safety measures as they’re being asked to offer at least 20 hours a week of in-person learning.

"This money is what public schools need now, that they should have received by today for a safe return to in-person learning," she said. "Not tomorrow, or a week from now. Today."

Starting Tuesday, Michigan’s largest COVID-19 vaccination clinic begins delivering shots into arms.

In the past week, 110,000 people have signed up to get their coronavirus vaccine at Ford Field in Detroit.  

More than 14,000 appointments are scheduled for this week, with another 20,000 appointment invitations going out Monday.

Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, while vaccine eligibility is expanding in Michigan, new variants of COVID-19 continue to spread through the state. Plus we dive into the latest dustup between Governor Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders over non-disclosure agreements and payouts to former state employees.

people holding slices of pizza
Brenna Huff / Unsplash

A West Michigan restaurant owner defying state health orders restricting the spread of the coronavirus was arrested Friday.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney is the owner of Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria. The Holland restauranteur’s food establishment license was suspended in January by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for violating Michigan food laws and public health orders after investigators discovered the restaurant disobeyed seating capacity restrictions and failed to enforce mask requirements. Yet, it remained open.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

K-12 schools are now the number-one source of COVID-19 outbreaks in Michigan, according to state data released this week.

For the week ending March 11, the state identified 162 outbreaks in K-12 schools, including 54 new outbreaks with the prior week. For the first time, school-related outbreaks have surpassed those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state will soon require weekly COVID-19 tests for student athletes aged 13 to 19.

Previously, tests were only required for sports like wrestling and swimming, where masks could pose a hazard.

Doctor Joneigh Khaldun is the state's Chief Medical Executive.

“Due to the many outbreaks linked to sports, this new order requires youth athletes aged 13 to 19 years old to take part in the weekly testing program to participate in athletic practices or competitions.”

Courtesy of Katie O'Donnell

Katie O’Donnell asked her students to take out a worksheet for a writing exercise that she had included in a packet of supplies. She teaches kindergarten at Detroit Achievement Academy, a charter school on the city’s west side that has been operating on a hybrid model since the fall.

One of her students, a boy she said shifts between his parents’ houses, didn’t have the packet with him, so O’Donnell asked him if there was anything else he could use to write on. She and her students watched online as he and his mother scrounged around their home for supplies. “All they could come up with was this tiny ripped-off sheet of paper, and they didn't have any pencils or anything.” O’Donnell recalled, and added that similar situations have played out several times over the last year.

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

Ford Field will serve as Michigan’s largest mass COVID-19 vaccination site starting next week.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday the home of the Detroit Lions is one of 20 federally designated mass vaccination centers across the country. 

Tens of thousands of vaccine doses beyond Michigan’s regular allotment should be available over the next eight weeks.

It’s been more than a year since our lives were upended by COVID-19, and Michigan Radio has tirelessly chronicled the news along the way. Not just about the pandemic, but about historic flooding that displaced residents; street protests demanding racial justice; a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor; and more. 

It’s all felt like a little too much, right? 

We get it.