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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Harlan Hatcher, Thomas Francis, Jonas Salk, and Basil O'Connor at Polio Vaccine announcement
University of Michigan News and Information Services Photographs, Bentley Historical Library

Crowds cheered this weekend as the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine rolled out of the production plant in Portage, Michigan. It was an emotional moment for some health care workers, too, as they became the first in the state to receive vaccinations. This historic step brings a cautious hope at the end of a devastating year. It also highlights how vaccine production has changed amid shifts in American science, medicine, and culture over the past several decades.

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

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In Northern Michigan, hospitals and health departments urged residents to continue following public health guidelines, noting that vaccine distribution will take some time.

Nick Torney is a Munson Healthcare Infectious Disease Pharmacist. He says for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, people will have to receive two separate doses.

“The FDA really does have a rigorous process for improving vaccines for safety. None of those processes were limited in the process of identifying a safe vaccine for COVID-19,” he says.

Representative Paul Mitchell
https://mitchell.house.gov/

Today on Stateside, we’re joined by a medical historian to talk about the extraordinary global effort that brought us the COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. Plus, a Michigan priest is facing accusations of sexual assault from several young men who used to work with him. And Rep. Paul Mitchell becomes the second Republican congressman from Michigan to split from the GOP.

man in a mask gets a vaccine from health care worker in a mask
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This weekend, a convoy of trucks rolled out of the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Portage, carrying the first doses of the freshly-FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. As people watched this historic moment, hopes soared  that this could be the beginning of the end of this deadly pandemic. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, was one of those people.

The small city of Portage is playing a big role in getting out Pfizer’s new COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer is manufacturing the vaccine at its 1,300 acre factory site in Portage, and distributing throughout the U.S.

Patricia Randall is mayor of Portage. She says everyone in town knows someone who works at the plant

“They have offered hope to the world,” Randall says. “I mean we have been unified in the world with suffering. And this has gone on for nine months. And it’s definitely a miracle. It’s a gift that we’ve all been waiting for.”

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For Dr. Luda Khait-Vlisides, an ER doctor at DMC Sinai-Grace in Detroit, this moment is a big deal.

“Holy sh--, this is actually going to happen! And I am so excited about it,” Khait-Vlisides said last week, as the country stood on the brink of distributing the first, much-hoped for COVID-19 vaccine.

Hospital workers on general medical floors, emergency departments, and ICU units are the first in line.

Pfizer starts rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

Dec 13, 2020
Junfu Han / Detroit Free Press

Three semi-trucks loaded with the nation's first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine rolled out of the parking lot of the Pfizer manufacturing plant early Sunday morning, met with cheering crowds of local residents who said they were proud of their hometown's contribution to science, and helping to bring the end to the coronavirus pandemic.


COURTESY OF MERCY HEALTH

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan continue to decline steadily at the state level.

As of Thursday, the number of confirmed COVID patients in hospitals statewide was more than 3,539, which includes pediatric patients, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The number of confirmed adult patients in the intensive care unit was 830.

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Michigan’s top health officials outlined plans Friday for distributing COVID-19 vaccines once they become available.

The plan includes giving first priority to frontline health care workers, emergency personnel, and people who live in nursing homes.

Though not in the first tier, childcare and K-12 school staff would also be high on the list.


Black Fire Brewery owner Mike Wells
Black Fire Brewery


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mrjn Photography / Unsplash

The Lansing Board of Water and Light is extending its utility shutoff moratorium to April 15 of next year.

In March, the BWL announced a moratorium on water shutoffs as people began coping with the pandemic, but electricity shutoffs only stopped for a short time.

The Lansing State Journal reports that nearly 2,400 customers had their power cut off this year.

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday her next round of actions to help people facing hardships due to the COVID-19 crisis. That includes a tax respite for businesses hurt by the COVID-19 restrictions and making plans for vaccines once they’re approved.

Under an executive order, entertainment venues and sit-down restaurants will be given more time to pay their December sales and payroll taxes. She says the postponed sales, use, and withholding taxes apply to recreation and entertainment venues as well as dine-in restaurants that have suffered due to pandemic restrictions. That means the businesses won’t have to pay their monthly taxes for December until January.

Ahmad Ardity / Pixabay

Wayne County rolled out a new program Thursday, called "Wayne County Cares," to help county residents who have been affected by the state's recent COVID-19 public health orders that shut down or reduced services at many businesses.

The county is offering a one-time, no strings attached $500 cash card to eligible applicants who must have worked in food service, group fitness, hospitality, or entertainment businesses since March 2020 and meet certain income limits.

Lots of unknowns as Michigan hospitals await first vaccine shipments

Dec 10, 2020
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The massive coronavirus vaccination effort to immunize Michigan's roughly 600,000 health care workers — and eventually the entire population — is in high gear as Pfizer's vaccine candidate undergoes a federal hearing Thursday to review whether it can be safely injected into the arms of millions of Americans.

In the scramble to stop a pandemic that's killed 288,000 people in the U.S. and 10,138 in Michigan, some metro Detroit hospital systems told the Free Press this week that they're mobilizing the biggest vaccination effort in U.S. history with so many unknowns that, in some ways, it's like they're flying in the dark.


Detroit mom still recovering from the spring wave of COVID-19

Dec 10, 2020
Nicole Vaughn, 50, is a single mom of five adopted kids. Back in March she came down with COVID-19 and was hospitalized and put on a ventilator.
Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

We’re in the middle of a second wave of COVID-19 here in the state, but the reality is some people are still recovering from the first wave back in the spring.

State health leaders say there's reason for “cautious optimism” that new cases of coronavirus appear to be declining.

The test positivity rate has plateaued. New cases have been dropping for two weeks. The number of deaths is still rising, but not as quickly as before.

Those are the reasons for optimism.

“The challenge here is making sure that people are wearing masks, maintaining their social distancing, so that we don’t see a second surge,” says Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the state’s Bureau of Epidemiology.

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At first, Dakima Jackson wanted to be a dentist. But, to support herself while studying, she got a job at an adult foster care home, and quickly “fell in love with working with seniors.”

She changed career paths, and for her next job, moved to another type of facility: a nursing home.

“Working at the nursing home, I was … just eager to spread myself around,” she said. “I decided that I would work at assisted living as well, because I wanted to know the difference.”

During the week she clocked into the nursing home. Weekends she spent at the assisted living facility.

Serenity Mitchell / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, COVID has turned life upside down for many people. For homeless LGBTQ youth, their lives were already in a state of crisis. We speak with two people at the Ruth Ellis Center about what life looks like for these youths right now. Plus, Detroit extended its water shutoff moratorium until 2023. What that will mean for residents and the city.

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Oakland County

“The only way to beat it is to face it.”

That’s the slogan Oakland County is using in its public messaging campaign urging people to stick with COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic drags on.

Updated Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. ET

In Michigan, the House of Representatives is being investigated by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration over violations to COVID-19 workplace regulations following an employee complaint.

Since the start of the pandemic, 11 Michigan state legislators and more than 30 legislative staffers have tested positive for coronavirus. Those numbers do not include Democratic Rep. Isaac Robinson who died of suspected COVID-19 on March 29.

Children in the hallway of a school
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Today on Stateside, a group of Ann Arbor physicians is calling for in-person schooling for the district’s younger students. We speak with a doctor about why he thinks the benefits outweigh the risks. Plus, as holiday traditions are put on hold, a performance of the Nutcracker moves online. And, Christmas tree sales are booming as people look for a slice of normal in 2020. 

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A group of Christian high schools claims Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions violate religious freedom rights.

The schools have filed a federal lawsuit in West Michigan to block the continuation of the restrictions.
That’s after the state Department of Health and Human Services extended its COVID restrictions through December 20.

For COVID long-haulers, trouble lingers long after "recovery"

Dec 8, 2020
Antranik Tavitian, Detroit Free Press

Gloria Vettese of Warren is haunted by the terror she felt in late March and early April, when she lay awake night after night, waiting and wondering whether COVID-19 would kill her and make her only child an orphan.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -  Nonpublic schools are suing after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration extended a coronavirus order that prevents in-person instruction at high schools, saying it violates the First Amendment right to practice religion. The federal lawsuit, filed in Michigan's Western District, was brought by a group representing more than 400 nonpublic schools across the state, as well as three Catholic high schools and 11 parents. The state health department lengthened the restriction by 12 days, through Dec. 20. It took effect Nov.

Michigan Executive Office of the Governor

Citing continuing concerns about hospital capacity and “alarmingly high” death rates, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a 12-day extension of the COVID-19 restrictions initially put in place three weeks ago. 

That means high schools, colleges and universities must continue online learning only. Theaters and casinos must remain closed, and bars and restaurants can’t resume indoor dining, an especially tough blow during the crucial holiday season.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that she will extend the “pause” on indoor restaurant dining and in-person high school and college classes for another 12 days.

Whitmer's initial three-week order was implemented through a Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order, and was set to expire Wednesday. The extension will last through December 20.

rudy giuliani in front of a black and red background
Gage Skidmore / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The Michigan House has canceled its voting session scheduled for Tuesday following an announcement that President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani tested positive for the coronavirus.

Giuliani visited Lansing last Wednesday to testify for hours before a Republican-led committee investigating alleged election irregularities. Without wearing a mask, he pushed lawmakers to ignore the certification of Democrat Joe Biden's win over Trump and appoint electors.

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