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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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a press conference holding a "vote" sign
State of Michigan

A Michigan Supreme Court opinion has created confusion surrounding the state’s COVID-19 response. But Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she still has options to require people to abide by mask and social distancing advice. Health experts say that remains the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The opinion raises lots of questions, and no shortage of assumptions, on the status of the governor’s emergency orders. Those orders affect stores and shops, schools, as well as indoor and outdoor gatherings.

MDHHS

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is imposing new mask requirements, gathering limitations and restaurant capacity rules tied to COVID-19.

Last Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion that could restrict Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s authority to issue executive orders in response to the pandemic.

On Monday, state health department director Robert Gordon stepped into the void with an order of his own. Gordon says he is using authority unconnected to the court’s ruling to keep much of the governor’s coronavirus restrictions in place.

“Orders have helped to stem the spread of COVID. They have reduced the number of cases. They have saved lives,” Gordon told reporters on a conference call on Monday. “We need shared action through orders as much today as we did in March and April.”

David Wilson/Flickr

More than 80 schools and universities in Michigan are now experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, according to the latest update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The department reported 24 new, and 63 ongoing outbreaks at schools Monday afternoon. More than 4,000 students and staff have tested positive for the virus, more than 90% of which were at colleges and universities.

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

A K-12 school employee has died from COVID-19, following an outbreak at a Montcalm County elementary school. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported the outbreak on Monday, September 28. 

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department confirmed that a woman in her 50s died due to COVID-19, but declined to give any identifying information. William DiSessa of the Michigan Department of Education confirmed that it was a school employee. 

gretchen whitmer at a press conference
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Sunday a court opinion that said she exceeded her authority with a series of COVID-19 emergency orders will not be the final word on the issue.

Whitmer said on CNN the advisory opinion from the state’s highest court puts the health of Michiganders at risk. The Michigan Supreme Court’s opinion said the governor exceeded her authority by issuing and re-issuing orders that require masks, distancing, and restricting public gatherings without getting approval from the Legislature.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court has issued an opinion on months of orders by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that were aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

The court says Whitmer illegally drew authority from a 1945 law that doesn't apply. The court determined that the law was an "unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution."

White House

Former Vice President Joe Biden started a campaign event in Grand Rapids Friday by saying he’s praying for President Donald Trump and the first lady.

“My wife Jill and I pray that they will make a full and complete recovery,” Biden told reporters, referring to the president’s positive test for COVID-19.

President Donald Trump will spend the next few days undergoing treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is moving the Upper Peninsula back to Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan.

Whitmer downgraded the U.P.'s category after a surge of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. It is the first region in the state to move backwards.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, COVID-19 hits home with Michigan’s Republican leaders. We hear from two journalists about how the lack of a mask mandate at the Michigan state Capitol hampers work in the legislature. Also, a veterinarian weighs in on the cheap vaccine that can prevent Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses--if owners choose to use it. Plus, an artist on bringing texture to children’s book illustrations.

Here's a stunning stat: Women are leaving the workforce at four times the rate as men.

The burden of parenting and running a household while also working a job during the pandemic has created a pressure cooker environment in many households, and women are bearing the brunt of it.

migop.org

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The news comes hours after the White House announced President Donald Trump and his wife Melania tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

The country was put on edge overnight as President Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that raises concerns about their health and throws the final stretch of the presidential campaign — already upended by the pandemic — even further into unknown territory.

The couple's 14-year-old son, Barron Trump, has tested negative for the virus, the first lady's chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, told NPR.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is tweaking how the state decides which nursing facilities can safely accept recovering COVID-19 patients. 

Under an executive order issued on Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will replace regional hub facilities with “care and recovery centers.”

 

The two are essentially the same.

 

Both of them — recovery centers and regional hubs — are isolation wings within nursing homes where residents with COVID-19 can recover. Both are supposed to be able to accept COVID patients from long-term care facilities that aren’t able to set up an isolation wing, or from hospitals, when patients can’t safely return to the facility where they live.

 

When the coronavirus arrived in Philadelphia in March, Dr. Ala Stanford hunkered down at home with her husband and kids. She's a pediatric surgeon with a private practice, and staff privileges at a few suburban Philadelphia hospitals. For weeks, most of her usual procedures and patient visits were canceled. So she found herself, like a lot of people, spending the days in her pajamas, glued to the TV.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a $62.7 billion state budget for the new fiscal year that begins Thursday.

The budget did not reduce funds for schools or for local governments. That’s despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Back in early spring, Khristan Yates worked as a quality assurance analyst at a marketing company and loved her job. "I had one of the best jobs of my career," recalls Yates, 31, a resident of Chicago.

Yates, who's a mother of two children, had moved into a bigger apartment just before the pandemic hit because she wanted to give her kids more space. At the time, she felt like she was "at the top of her world."

But as the economic effects of the pandemic hit the marketing industry among others, she lost her job in May.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

The COVID-19 state of emergency in Michigan has been extended by Governor Gretchen Whitmer through October 27.

This action is not a surprise since Governor Whitmer already said she intended to renew the emergency declaration. But it’s still controversial since her authority to do so and continue to issue emergency orders is being challenged in court.

Thomas de Luze for Unsplash

On paper, the COVID-19 outbreak at Michigan State University, the largest reported at any university in the state thus far, with 1,395 cases, appears to be getting better, fast. Very fast. 

The Dog 'n Suds sign in Muskegon
Dog '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 Dog '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.

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.

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