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Health

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Governor Whitmer announced this week Michigangers age 50 and up are eligible for the vaccine. But there are still many younger essential workers who still can’t get vaccinated, despite constant interaction with strangers. 

Front-line workers in Michigan’s food processing facilities, grocery stores, and big-box stores have had no choice but to show up for work, interacting with customers that are sometimes physically distanced, and sometimes not. 

a person holds a vaccine vial
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Today on Stateside, a third type of vaccine to prevent COVID-19 will be available to qualifying Michigan residents in the coming weeks. A journalist discusses how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could help local health officials get more vulnerable populations vaccinated. Also, a look at what it takes to find work in Michigan’s booming cannabis industry. Plus, the path to some kind of normal after a year of pandemic living.

building marquee that says "socially distant but always together"
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

March 10 marks one year since Michigan’s first confirmed COVID-19 case. We want to know how COVID has changed your life this year. What’s the worst thing the pandemic has brought - and what’s the best thing?

State officials say they've detected the first known case of a new coronavirus variant in Michigan.

The variant is called B.1.351 and it was first discovered in South Africa last fall. The new variant has been identified in a child in Jackson County.

a man wearing a mask receives a covid-19 vaccine
C/O Spectrum Health

Local health districts in Northern Michigan said Thursday they will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility at a faster pace than state guidelines.

Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services said earlier this week that anyone 50 and older could get vaccinated against the virus starting on Monday, March 22. People in that age group could get vaccinated earlier — March 8 — if they had a pre-existing condition that would make them particularly vulnerable to the virus.

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Today on Stateside, how the pandemic is delaying parole for people who are incarcerated in Michigan, even as prisons continue to have outbreaks of the virus. Also, two grocery store workers discuss waiting for a vaccine after a year of being on the front lines of the pandemic. Plus, why the United Auto Workers corruption scandal isn’t over yet.

When Latoya Jenkins talks about her mom, she likes to focus on happy memories like the games she used to play with her kids.

"She used to buy two bottles of dish soap," Jenkins said. "One bottle was for the dishes. The other bottle was for rainy days. She would take us outside and we would make bubbles."

Jenkins, who lives in upstate New York, says her mom, Sonya Hughey, had a hard life, first using crack cocaine when she was a teenager.

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Today on Stateside, what is the role of primary care doctors in Michigan’s vaccination plan? Plus, one family talks to us about starting a podcast during the pandemic. And, some advice for adults trying to help kids through the mental health challenges of the moment.

After nearly a year of grief, vaccinations bring joy to Michigan

Mar 1, 2021
Elaine Cromie / Bridge Michigan

For much of last year, Michigan’s nurses and other frontline workers were sometimes called names, cursed at, or lied to.

They scrambled to fill staff shortages, track down masks or other supplies, and, in some cases, as the virus tore through their communities, found there was precious little they could do for thousands of the sick and dying.

Then, finally, vaccines arrived.

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The city of Detroit's health department is investigating a large COVID-19 outbreak at the Whole Foods store.

Twenty-three of the store's 196 workers have tested positive so far.

Denise Fair is Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer. She calls the outbreak "outrageous," and says it raises questions about Whole Foods' internal practices.

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Michiganders aged 18-64 with disabilities are currently in group 1C in terms of priority for the COVID-19 vaccine. Disability rights activists are asking the state to move them to group 1B, along with the support staff and other people who provide them care.

In a letter to the governor and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Elizabeth Hertel to consider moving the group.

Updated 2:12 p.m. ET

With coronavirus infections on a steady, six weeks long descent in the U.S., it's clear the worst days of the brutal winter surge have waned. Yet researchers are still not sure how sustainable the decline is. And a small but concerning uptick in cases in the last three days has health officials on edge.

The University of Michigan football stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, two-thirds of Washtenaw County's COVID-19 cases are affiliated with the University of Michigan. A campus health official discusses efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Also, a look at Michigan’s possible future as a haven for those escaping the worst effects of climate change.

Vaccines are like milk. Both make us stronger, but if stored at the wrong temperature, they spoil.

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The Livingston County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution at its meeting Monday night, criticizing the state's use of the CDC's social vulnerability index in determining COVID-19 vaccine allocation and calling on the state to retract the plan.

The resolution claims that the state's use of the index is disproportionately hurtful to Livingston County seniors. It says that the population at biggest risk of contracting COVID-19, according to experts, is senior citizens, particularly those with underlying health conditions.

How do we wrap our minds around the fact that nearly half a million people have died of COVID-19 in the United States alone?

The nation is on the cusp of that milestone: 500,000 lives lost, in just one year.

Dr. Remus Robinson poses for a portrait during his time serving on Detroit's Board of Education. This photo was taken in the 1960s.
Courtesy photo from the Robinson family

Dr. Remus Robinson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1904. He first came to Detroit as a teen before getting his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1930. 

At the time, Detroit had about 120,000 Black residents, but the overwhelming majority of people who lived in the city were white. Many institutions in the city, including the biggest and most well-funded hospitals, were still segregated and openly discriminated against Black people. Black patients who did go to the city’s major hospitals were kept in separate wards and died from treatable diseases more often than white patients.

COURTESY OF SPECTRUM HEALTH

Beaumont Health has canceled some scheduled second doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, citing an unexpected shortage of doses from the state.

Beaumont announced Monday that it would cancel 1,884 second dose appointments scheduled for Thursday.

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On March 1, tens of thousands of Michiganders will be added to the growing pool of those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the state health department announced Monday. An estimated 79,000 workers in the food processing and agricultural industries will be eligible as part of the “1B” category, making them the latest group to become eligible.

Healthcare workers, teachers and childcare workers, corrections workers, and those who work in group living settings (like homeless shelters and foster homes) are already eligible, as well as anyone over the age of 65.

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An executive order from President Joe Biden has made it possible for for uninsured Michiganders to get health insurance outside of the regular enrollment period.

People would usually have to enroll between November and December, and would need a qualifying life change to enroll outside that period.

man in a mask gets a vaccine from health care worker in a mask
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Today, on Stateside, we talked with photographer Leni Sinclair about her years of political involvement and her stunning photos of Detroit’s stages and people. Also, how Detroit leveraged help from a large and well-funded partner to coordinate its massive effort to vaccinate residents. 

black and white archive photo of two nurses wearing masks.
National Archives

Today, on Stateside, a new state budget paves the way into another uncertain year. Also, a discussion about how undocumented immigrants have been shut out of federal aid during the pandemic.

COURTESY OF MERCY HEALTH

Mercy Health in West Michigan has distributed 21,960 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date. Of the vaccines distributed, 3% of those doses have gone to Black people and 3% have gone to Latino people. That’s a number that the health system is hoping to improve.

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Michigan’s top doctor says the state is planning to increase COVID-19 vaccine access for the hardest hit communities.

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun spoke at a virtual town hall Wednesday evening, addressing vaccine skepticism in the Black community. She announced that the state will be allocating vaccines based on the CDC’s social vulnerability index.

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There are over 370,000 people in Michigan who have finished both doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

"I kind of feel like I'm a little bit of a superhero," said Jamina Washington, a labor and delivery nurse from Ypsilanti. She got her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine in early January.

"I just want to walk around, flashing my card like it's a badge of honor or something to have completed our doses."

Mayor Mike Duggan says the city is expanding options for Detroiters over age 65 to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Duggan says the city will be providing low-cost or no cost rides to a vaccination clinic at the TCF center.  And for the next four Saturdays, the mayor says the city will be providing special vaccination clinics just for seniors. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County health and education officials want young children from Flint evaluated for developmental issues.

Testing has shown Flint’s drinking water has long since recovered from its lead crisis in 2014 and 2015.   

But Nicole Jason, Intervention Services Supervisor with the Genesee Intermediate School District, says women may still be passing lead on to unborn children.

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Meijer is expanding COVID-19 vaccinations across Michigan this week, with plans to administer up to 25,000 doses to people age 65 and older by week's end. Monday's announcement comes more than three weeks after the retailer began immunizations at a limited number of its pharmacies in Wayne County. Residents can pre-register by sending a text message, going online or visiting a Meijer pharmacy. Meijer reports administering more than 20,000 doses since its first clinic on Jan. 15, primarily to seniors.

It's been more than a year since I've seen my mother. Like many families, we live a fair distance apart and the pandemic has put a stop to our visits. I was supposed to visit last April to celebrate her 90th birthday, but instead we shared a toast over the phone and tightly crossed our fingers that by summer things would be better. They weren't.

Homeless man
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Groups across Michigan that provide emergency shelter are bracing for a rough two weeks.

Temperatures some nights could plunge to near or below zero, and COVID-19 restrictions will make it even more difficult than usual to keep people safe in life-threatening cold. 

Faith Fowler runs Cass Community Social Services in Detroit, which typically has about 150 people being sheltered overnight.  She says that number can easily double in single digit cold snaps. 

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