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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rona4real.com (used with permission)

Soon you’re going to see Rona on billboards, hear Rona on the radio, and Rona will pop up on some of your favorite social media sites. Rona is a new ad campaign to get young adults to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

Rona – as in co-RONA-virus – is a red dot wearing sunglasses, described as a mischievous, malevolent character bent on infecting Michiganders who let down their guard. It has several arms that cannot quite reach six feet away.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, mortality rates and life expectancy are far better for white Americans than they are for Black people during normal, non-pandemic years, according to an analysis published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Two conservative groups, One Nation and Election Integrity Fund, filed suit in federal court, claiming that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Orders violate their rights. Whitmer's orders limit the number of people who can gather in an attempt to avoid spreading the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

More than half of Michiganders hospitalized for coronavirus during the first several months of the pandemic were unnecessarily given antibiotics, in part because testing delays meant doctors didn’t know whether patients had COVID-19, or another potentially dangerous infection like strep, pneumonia, or both.

While antibiotics don’t treat COVID, they can increase the risk that a patient will develop a resistance to antibiotics later on, when the treatments may be desperately needed, says Dr. Valerie Vaughn. She’s an assistant professor and hospitalist at the University of Michigan, and one of the authors of a new study published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The U.S. Justice Department is asking for data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from Michigan and other states.

The agency says it’s evaluating whether to initiate investigations under the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others.

police in downtown detroit on May 31, 2020
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, protests in Detroit over police brutality have been peaceful for weeks. That changed this past Sunday when police arrested protesters. Legal observers, there in a citizen oversight capacity, say they were assaulted by police. We'll hear from a legal observer who was there. Plus, a look at Michigan’s preparedness for the upcoming school year amid a profound decline in state revenue.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
USDA.gov

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to provide students with free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they were learning remotely. This also gave the department the flexibility in distributing the food, allowing them to work with districts and community organizations. The USDA will be stopping these services at the end of the month.

In Michigan, school districts have been providing meals for students who might not have otherwise received them during the statewide lockdown.

Lance McCord / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The governor set a goal of vaccinating an additional one million people in Michigan compared to last year.

She said Tuesday that the upcoming colder months represent a double threat.

She said an increase in serious flu cases would make it tougher for hospitals and other health care providers to handle an expected uptick in COVID-19 cases. Whitmer said it’s also not fair to expose health care workers to the double threat.

the exterior of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor
Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

Today on Stateside, the summer of calls for racial justice continues into the school year. A Black student at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School has filed a civil rights complaint against the school, alleging racial discrimination and an overall hostile environment for Black students. Also, an interview with the editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine as she works to create a more inclusive car culture and dealing with a changing auto industry.

A person with a high viral load walks into a bar.

That, according to researchers who study the novel coronavirus, is a recipe for a superspreading event — where one person or gathering leads to an unusually high number of new infections. And that kind of occurrence is increasingly considered a hallmark of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

prison exterior
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

In April and May, Michigan prisons saw a wave of COVID-19 infections among inmates. Things simmered down in midsummer, but have spiked again recently with a large outbreak at the Muskegon Correctional Facility.

Throughout the pandemic, prisoners have raised concerns about how the Michigan Department of Corrections is responding to COVID-19 in the state's prisons. 

Joey Horan is a reporter with Outlier Media. In an investigation for Bridge Magazine, he found that once the virus enters a facility, prison officials rely heavily on punitive measures to control its spread.

people dancing in front of a mirror at a dance studio
Unsplash

Some Michigan businesses have been able to retool and reopen this summer under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 “Safe Start” plan. But for businesses that usually rely on close physical contact with clients, adapting to life under the pandemic is uniquely complicated. One example? Dance studios.

University of Michigan
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

This post was originally written on June 24. It has been updated to reflect any major changes to universities' plans for the fall semester.

After cancelling face-to-face classes this spring due to COVID-19, many universities across Michigan are gearing up to bring students back to campus this fall. But high-profile cancellations at other universities across the country may lead Michigan schools to re-think that plan. 

The epidemic is far from over. Cases of COVID-19 have started going back up since June in Michigan, and the state is still not testing at a high enough rate.

a classroom of empty colorful chairs
Flickr user Frank Juarez / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

School districts will be looking for some hints as the state’s budget experts and economists try to forecast state revenues.

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crash mean cuts are ahead for schools.

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

Even as some colleges and universities blame students for hosting off-campus parties and contributing to the risk of COVID-19 spreading on campus, Dr. Preeti Malani believes administrators can rely on students to follow public health advice to prevent outbreaks that could lead to the cancellation of in-person classes.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, state health officials report that there are currently 14 COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Michigan associated with schools, but they won’t say which ones. A reporter talks us through how the health department shares—and retains—information on outbreaks. Also, the story behind the viral video of U.S. Postal Service mail sorter machines being scrapped in Grand Rapids. Plus, a new podcast documents the history of the Ford Bronco.

University of Michigan

There were 12 graduate students living in the co-op house this spring, all sharing two-and-a-half bathrooms, when one student’s boyfriend (a doctor in Detroit) tested positive for COVID. That meant everyone in the house could have been exposed to the virus. 

They all needed to self-isolate. But in a house with so many people, the question was: how?  

“It was pretty hard trying to kind of organize any kind of quarantine in the house,” says Steven Mace, one of the residents. “The University [of Michigan] stepped in and gave housing to, I think, four or five of us. So they put us up in Northwood housing, because they had empty units. So they did two weeks of quarantine up there for a bit, and provided food.”

Eastern Michigan University
F. Delventhal / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Eastern Michigan University students will need to take a COVID-19 test before going back to school.

The university is mandating that students who will be living on campus take an at-home saliva test for the coronavirus before returning to school.

Pre-pandemic, about half of U.S. families reported having trouble finding care for a young child.

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

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed 14 school-related outbreaks of COVID-19. The MDHHS did not provide the specific locations of the outbreaks, saying that “infectious disease outbreaks are not commonly announced to the media, unless there is broad risk to the general public and all people exposed cannot be notified.”

An outbreak, in this case, is generally considered to mean two or more cases with a common source of exposure. It is unknown how many cases are connected to the 14 outbreaks.

girl at a laptop
Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we hear from one of the attorneys who helped negotiate a groundbreaking $600 million settlement between the state of Michigan and Flint residents impacted by the water crisis. Then, as school starts up in both virtual and in-person formats, advice for how to talk to kids about the uncertain year ahead. And we meet a comedienne and author who dismantles mansplaining and affiliated acts of conversation fail.

Vince Fleming / Unsplash

In a move sure to frustrate high school athletes, their coaches, and parents, the Michigan High School Athletic Association said Thursday, in what was already a one-day-delayed announcement, that it still needs another week or so to figure out if most of the state can play girls volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming & diving indoor this year. 

 

group of college students wearing face masks
Valerii / Adobe Stock

The Washtenaw County Health Department has issued an order that limits the size of outdoor gatherings and events. The order applies to gatherings within the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Those gatherings are now limited to 25 people, down from 100. The health department says it's issuing this restriction ahead of students returning to area universities.

ANDREW PARSONS / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Michigan hospitals will keep using convalescent plasma to treat certain COVID-19 patients — they’ll just have to keep jumping through certain hoops to do it. That's after the FDA has reportedly delayed authorizing the experimental treatment for “emergency use.” 

 

governor gretchen whitmer standing at a podium
michigan.gov

Though coronavirus cases in the state appear to be plateauing, Michigan is still under a state of emergency.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says as cases continue to decline in the state, businesses may be allowed to reopen based on the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

But the state of emergency will likely remain in place.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, on Tuesday, Michigan State University announced it was transitioning to remote learning for undergraduates and urged students to stay home. Meanwhile, faculty at the University of Michigan are protesting the university’s decision to continue with in-person classes. Conversations with professors from both universities tell a tale of two schools. Plus, how the pandemic highlights racial inequality in college access.

Ketut Subiyanto / unsplash

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has directed Michigan's unemployment insurance agency to apply for federal unemployment benefits of $300 a week to boost state benefits. 

The benefit is coming from FEMA's $44 billion disaster relief fund.

a protester at the university of michigan holds a sign that says leaders and best should test
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Some faculty and staff at the University of Michigan are worried about the influx of students returning to campus. Around 40 faculty, staff, and graduate student employees gathered in front of the administration building on Tuesday. It was the first of a planned three days of protests, asking for the administration to let faculty opt out of in-person instruction and demanding a more robust testing infrastructure for COVID-19.

https://www.michiganstateuniversityonline.com/about/michigan-state/

In a message to the campus community Tuesday, Michigan State University President Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr. asked students planning to live on campus for the fall semester to stay home and continue their education remotely. 

While many of MSU's classes were offered in remote formats, the university will work to transition remaining hybrid or in-person classes online over the next few weeks.

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Having a big house party near Michigan State University just got harder. 

On Tuesday, the Ingham County Health Department announced a new emergency order banning outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people in certain parts of East Lansing near campus - including the downtown area. 

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