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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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.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

At least 1,412 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as part of new or ongoing outbreaks across 27 schools, according to data released by the state for the first time on Monday.

The vast majority of outbreaks (defined as two or more cases with shared exposure on school grounds) are among college students, who account for 20 of the total reported outbreaks and 1,370 of all school cases. (Two of the colleges, Adrian College and Calvin University, said their outbreaks included staff as well as students, but those numbers weren’t broken down.)

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A top Ingham County Health official calls the situation “alarming.”

Monday, the county health department placed 21 Michigan State University fraternities and sororities under a mandatory quarantine for COVID-19.

In all, the Ingham County Health Department has identified 30 large houses in East Lansing with known exposure to the coronavirus. People living there have been ordered to quarantine for the next two weeks.  Residents of the quarantined properties are being told to remain at home unless they need medical care or necessities that cannot be delivered.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan voted to renew their strike in protest of the school's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union has been on strike since Tuesday of last week, and that strike expired on Friday. The renewed strike will last five more days, and expire on Friday, September 18, unless an offer is put forward by the university and approved by union members.

METRON OF CEDAR SPRINGS

Visitation restrictions at long-term care facilities will ease up slightly on September 15. 

An order from the state health department will allow certain skilled nursing facilities, homes for the aged, and other long-term care facilities to hold outdoor visits for their residents, while maintaining safety measures such as distancing and mask-wearing requirements. 

someone getting a shot
Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some clinical trials for potential COVID-19 vaccines are going well—but don’t expect a vaccine any time this year, says an infectious disease specialist with Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System.

Dr. Allison Weinmann is involved in phase three clinical trials for Moderna's mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) vaccine study. Henry Ford is participating in the national study, which has recruited 30,000 volunteers to receive either the vaccine or a placebo, and monitor the results for both safety and efficacy.

Courtesty of Cate Sullivan

Cate Sullivan wasn’t expecting the Ritz - this was student housing, after all. And the on-campus apartment the University of Michigan sophomore was assigned for quarantine “was not like in bad shape or anything. It was certainly livable,” she says. “[But] I’m really lucky I got to leave after [I tested negative.]”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan will allow more families to visit loved ones in nursing homes and other residential facilities.

The state imposed restrictions on nursing home visits to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan's nursing homes. About a third of the state's coronavirus fatalities have been among people in long-term care facilities.   

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer leveled harsh words Thursday against President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

She called Trump “the biggest enemy of the state” over an interview taped by journalist Bob Woodward.

In it, Trump said he downplayed the danger of COVID-19. The governor said, if that is true, the President prolonged the crisis.

Noah / Unsplash

On Stateside, a church in Romeo grapples with systemic and politically motivated vandalism. And, what six months of COVID have looked like. Plus, we continue a focus on Detroit Month of Design with a conversation with the winner of the Design in the City competition.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer told a business group Wednesday that she can’t predict exactly how long her emergency measures will be required to address the COVID-19 crisis.

That was at roughly the same time those powers were being challenged in the state Supreme Court.

The governor has issued more than 170 COVID-19-related executive orders. The governor has withdrawn and re-issued orders, she says, to meet changing circumstances.

RAWPIXEL

For the second week in a row, a comprehensive report has been released recommending how Michigan’s health department could better manage COVID-19 in nursing homes. 

a sign for GEO that says UM works because we do
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Undeterred by heavy rain Tuesday morning, protesters gathered around the University of Michigan’s campus, chanting and marching in protest of the school’s COVID-19 reopening plans. Today was the first day of a strike organized by the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, the union that represents graduate student employees at U of M.

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