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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unemployement insurance form on a clipboard
Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Adobe Stock

The state unemployment agency says the number of people waiting to have claims processed is growing. The agency says the backlog is largely due to suspected instances of fraud.

As the COVID-19 crisis has spurred furloughs and layoffs, complaints from people waiting for their jobless benefits have grown.

Chuttersnap/Unsplash.com

Starting Monday, 15 churches in Pontiac and Southfield will offer free COVID-19 tests on a rotating basis over the next two weeks.

It’s a joint effort with Oakland County health officials to reach two communities hit hardest by the pandemic: Black people and older adults. Officials say African Americans make up just 14% of Oakland County’s population, but represent 33% of the COVID-19 cases, and about 36% of the deaths there. Nearly 80% of COVID deaths in Oakland County were people over 70. (Statewide data shows similar disparities.) 

waving michigan flag
Courtesy Michigan Photography

Two University of Michigan student-athletes and one at Michigan State University have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent tests.

Between them, U-M and MSU have tested more than 300 student-athletes as the Big Ten schools prepare to return to athletic competition.

Two other MSU athletes previously tested positive for COVID-19.

U-M Athletic Director Warde Manuel says the testing is part of the Ann Arbor university’s plan to restart its athletic program.

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. 

 

Band members standing on stage
Mark Samano

Many clubs and bars opened last weekend since stay-at-home orders have gone into effect, and musicians are eager to return to work and play for an audience. One of the venues to open last weekend for the first time was The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

The Blind Pig reduced its occupancy to 100 people, giving concert-goers more room in the small space. Masks are also required for entry.

On stage at the club last weekend was Sabbatical Bob, a local funk band.

The U.S. Supreme Court building
U.S. Supreme Court

Today on Stateside, we talk to a Detroit artist whose new mural is a monument to Malice Green and the wider community of Black citizens killed at the hands of police. Plus, two young Dreamers discuss what the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) means for them.

Mr. Music / Adobe Stock

The Emagine Royal Oak theater is planning to reopen on Friday for a weeklong Juneteenth film festival, even though the reopening would violate Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive order that indoor movie theaters remain closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Whitmer's spokesperson Tiffany Brown said the Governor expects that by July 4th, movie theaters throughout the state may be allowed to open, subject to specific health and safety restrictions. That option is currrently available in only two of eight regions in Michigan.

Flickr/creative commons / Jeff Clark, BLM

Updated:  6/18/2020

Sixty eight people have died of COVID-19 so far in Michigan prisons, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

It's the second highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in a state prison system in the country, according to the non-profit Marshall Project, which is tracking the cases. Ohio is number one for COVID-19 related inmate deaths.

designer491 / Adobe Stock

Michigan’s unemployment rate remains high, but it’s getting better.

The state’s May unemployment rate was 21.8%.  That’s down 2.8 percentage points from the previous month. Construction, transportation and utilities sectors saw job increases last month.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Owosso barber who challenged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay at Home order has gotten his state license back.

Emergency room hospital
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, a conversation with a community activist in Grand Rapids looking to defund the police and what that would entail. Plus, four nurses have filed a lawsuit against the parent company of DMC and Sinai-Grace over what they say was negligence and mismanagement that led to unnecessary COVID-19 deaths.

RAWPIXEL

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. 

Photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit is celebrating Juneteenth with a week-long series of events starting on Monday.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19. It commemorates the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas learned they would be freed.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Over the past three months Flint has restored water service to hundreds of homes.

Mayor Sheldon Neeley ordered the city to start reconnecting water service to occupied homes on March 12, a few weeks before Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered all Michigan cities to end water shutoffs and restore service.

screenshot of TouTube video of students playing instruments
Monroe High School

Michigan schools are wrapping up a year like no other. As COVID-19 closed K-12 buildings, teachers and students struggled to recreate the chemistry of some group activities.

Jack Amick / Creative Commons

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has delivered a blow to an effort to release medically-vulnerable inmates from the Oakland County Jail.

Inmates and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit in April. They said Oakland County wasn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the jail, and asked the court to order that inmates with medical conditions be released.

Back of a school bus
Pixabay

Oakland County is bringing some new employees on board for when schools re-open this fall—nurses.

The Oakland Together School Nurse Initiative calls for hiring 68 nurses. Each nurse would be assigned a school district to work with through December.

Sinai-Grace nurses file lawsuit, allege patients died because hospital was short-staffed

Jun 11, 2020
Junfu Han / Detroit Free Press

Empty classroom
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Forty-six west Michigan school superintendents have warned state and federal officials that school funding cuts are not acceptable.

In a joint statement released on Wednesday, the superintendents from Muskegon, Kent and Ottawa counties called on the U.S. Congress to quickly take action to provide additional aid for public education. 

Nathália Rosa / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we’ll check in with former Michigan Radio reporter Bryce Huffman, who started working for BridgeDetroit—a newsroom made up entirely of people of color—just days before George Floyd was killed by police and Black Lives Matter protests took hold across the globe. Also, a conversation with a Detroit radio journalist about the music that made the city an indelible part of punk history.

(Subscribe to Stateside on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or with this RSS link)

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, less driving statewide during the COVID-19 pandemic means insurance companies need to distribute refunds. We find out about what this means for drivers, as well as how they’ll be affected by upcoming changes to the state’s no-fault law. Also, a look at how the history of LGBTQ Pride and the Black Lives Matter movement intersect. Plus, social media’s relationship to social change.

Three months after confirming its first case of COVID-19, Michigan's death rate is one of the highest in the nation, even as the number of new cases reported daily has been falling dramatically. 

DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti
Detroit Public Schools Community District

The Detroit Public Schools Community District wants feedback on its recently released draft plan to re-open schools.

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Tuesday before the state Senate Elections Committee.

The first-term Democrat asked the committee to back efforts to keep voting places clean and safe to avoid spreading the coronavirus in the August and November elections.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced the creation of a health corps to help Detroiters during the COVID-19 pandemic. The deputy mayor, Conrad Mallett, Jr., says various municipal departments will meet over the next thirty days and develop a plan for what the corps will look like.

Duggan says Detroit residents have expressed concerns about water shutoffs, evictions, job losses, and access to medical care during the pandemic.

“I really envision a corps of folks who work for the health department who can reach out to those of low income and say we will be there to help you on these issues,” says Duggan.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, more Michigan businesses reopen, including some bars and restaurants. A bartender weighs in on some service industry workers’ concerns. Also, two Black American journalists discuss covering protests against police brutality, during a pandemic, in a field dominated by white reporters and editors. Plus, an artist collective based up north relaunches.

Courtesy of Patrick Echlin

It’s a hot day to be laying brick, but Patrick Echlin is working on the patio at 734 Brewing Company in Ypsilanti. He and his co-owners celebrated the brewery’s second anniversary just last week, amidst very different circumstances than when they opened. 

 

Downtown Ann Arbor
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

Starting Monday, Michigan’s restaurants and bars can reopen to dine-in customers at half capacity. Business districts have welcomed the news, but as customers return, there are also concerns about spreading COVID-19.

Traverse City recently voted to close two blocks downtown to vehicle traffic to allow for more outdoor seating. And last week, the Ann Arbor City Council passed its own plan for some downtown streets.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

As retail businesses re-open throughout Michigan, small business owners are being asked to walk a fine line:  Attracting as many customers as they can, while also enforcing new state and local rules meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We talked to two small business owners about how they’re navigating this new world. We also spoke to a number of grocery store workers from across the state, all of them union members in UFCW Local 951. 

Here’s what they had to say.

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.

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