Health | Michigan Radio


Excellacare Care Provider Sarah Sutherlin helps her client Carmela Palamara, 92, of Brownstown stand up to stretch her legs after the two color and play a game of UNO at Palamara's home on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.
Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press

Updated:  05/07/2021

Misty Evans stands in her client Ric’s living room in Midland, helping him pick out a record to play on the turntable.

out of focus soldiers stand in front of a raised american flag
Bumble Dee / Adobe Stock

A congressional committee will hear testimony next week on the need to speed up health care benefits for service members exposed to toxic burn pits overseas. 

Two Michigan representatives are behind the "Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act of 2021" to accomplish that.

a nurse holds a vial of one of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Spectrum Health

Not all COVID-19 vaccine programs in Michigan were designed with people with disabilities in mind, says Jim Moore, the executive director of Disability Network Northern Michigan.

But his group is working with local health departments to make vaccines more easily accessible for people with disabilities. Moore says it’s a process that will help everyone.

governor gretchen whitmer standing at a podium

Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans to get her second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at a vaccine clinic in Grand Rapids.

newborn baby

Michigan has achieved its lowest infant mortality rate in the state's recorded history, according to an announcement this week by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before reaching the age of one. 

The newly released data shows an infant mortality rate of 6.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2019. That's down from a rate of 8.5 per thousand in 2003.


Today on Stateside, we revisit how one year of pandemic life has changed our relationships — from close connections, to pod problems, to loved ones lost. A funeral director discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted mourning in 2020. Then, a counselor and psychologist talk us through how pod life, solitude, and mental health challenges during the pandemic have affected the ways we interact with other people.

Abdul for Michigan

Today on Stateside, the 2020 census results are in and Michigan has lost a congressional seat. What this means for the state’s political landscape. Plus, the story of a Filipino Michigander serving in the Civil War. And, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed on why now is not the time to let up on the pandemic.

a gloved hand holding a vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Mohammad Shahhosseini / Unsplash

Health care providers in Michigan have been given the go-ahead to administer the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. That’s as Michigan faces some of the worst coronavirus hotspots in the country.

Michigan health officials lifted a pause on the J&J vaccine based on advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC determined getting more people vaccinated outweighs the very remote risk of developing a blood clot.

arm of a person receiving an infusion in a hospital bed
smolaw11 / Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, a look inside a hospital ward caring for a bunch of younger COVID patients. Plus, a Detroit council trail-blazer Raquel Castaneda-Lopez talks about why she’s leaving politics to go back to advocacy. And, we get up close and personal with one of the biggest fish in the Great Lakes, the sturgeon.

Inside a Michigan COVID-19 ward: Younger patients, familiar sadness and politics

Apr 26, 2021
Mandi Wright / Detroit Free Press

Andrea Kanerva sat on the edge of the bed with her hair pulled up, exposing the ties of her blue hospital gown. Fuzzy green socks with white treads covered her feet.

She spoke deliberately, breathing deeply as the lines on the monitor behind her danced up and down, graphing fluctuations in Kanerva's pulse, blood-oxygen level and respiratory rate. 

Michigan’s seeing a small, but hopeful, drop in daily new COVID cases, and there’s optimism that hospitalizations may have peaked in this third wave as well. At Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital – where nurses like Maddie Schrauben care for COVID patients like 6
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Jeanne Bishop and Kathleen Marble are huddled together over their laptop and notes, quietly trying to figure out where they’re going to put all the kids and infants coming into Sparrow Hospital with COVID-19. It’s Tuesday, April 20, and the 8 a.m. incident command meeting has just wrapped. Now the real work begins.

Cherry Capital Airport sign in front of trees and a blue sky
Traverse City Capital Airport

The state health department is trying to encourage more people to get tested for COVID-19 by making it convenient.

The state is beginning to offer testing at travel sites. Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City is the first airport to offer free rapid tests.

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Nurses in the Henry Ford Health System say they're feeling the strain of the latest COVID-19 surge.

When Lauren Varley saw her first COVID-19 case in the ICU last year, she told her parents she couldn't see them for a month. That month stretched into six as she worried about exposing her parents to the virus that claimed the lives of so many of the patients she risked her own life to treat.

"It made me feel extremely hopeless and very helpless as a nurse because I knew that any patient that I saw with COVID, I knew there was a very high possibility that they just were not going to survive," Varley said.

Andrea Piacquadio for Pexel

Michigan nurses took their concerns about COVID-19 workplace issues to members of Congress Thursday.

Many Michigan hospitals are at or near their capacity limits as the state struggles with another surge in COVID cases.

During a zoom conference with Michigan congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib, nurses said the recent surge in COVID cases is showing again problems in Michigan hospitals that have existed since the pandemic began.

A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine during a drive-thru clinic.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

There are early signs that demand for COVID-19 vaccines in Michigan has started to level out and drop off.

State data show that 664,349 COVID vaccine doses were administered across the state during the week of April 5, which is when Michigan opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years or older. The following week, it dropped to 607,517 doses.

Metro Detroit is helping to drive that trend. The city of Detroit and surrounding regions — Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties — all saw drops in the number of vaccine doses administered between the first two full weeks of April.

a nurse holds a vial of one of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Spectrum Health

Today on Stateside, what it could take to get Michiganders who are hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine to roll up their sleeves. Also, no, you’re not imagining it — why your seasonal allergies seem to be getting worse. Plus, the effort to make the great outdoors safe and accessible for Black and brown Michiganders.

Scientists and public health experts agree that masks are effective at lowering the spread of the coronavirus indoors, where the vast majority of transmission is likely to occur.

But what about outside?

About two dozen states have statewide mask mandates that generally require people to wear masks outside when they're not able to stay at least 6 feet apart. Many cities have their own rules.

In movies such as Contagion, a pandemic begins in a flash. A deadly virus spills over from an animal, like a pig, into humans and then quickly triggers an outbreak.

But that's not actually what happens, says Dr. Gregory Gray at the Duke Global Health Institute. "It's not like in the movies," he says, "where this virus goes from a pig in Indonesia and causes a pandemic."

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel at podium
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan's college towns are quieter this spring than they would be in a normal year. As University of Michigan students and faculty wrap up another COVID-19 semester, UM President Mark Schlissel hopes the fall will bring impressive vaccination rates and the return of an ebullient campus. 

The pandemic school year

beaumont hospital wayne exterior
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s largest health system is straining under the weight of the state’s third COVID-19 surge.

Beaumont Health System CEO John Fox says it currently has around 800 COVID-19 patients in its eight hospitals.

Fox was a guest on Stateside on Tuesday. He says this COVID surge puts Beaumont and other Michigan hospitals in an incredibly difficult situation.

beaumont hospital royal oak exterior
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, the CEO of Beaumont Health System talks about hospital capacity and what lies ahead. Plus, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel on plans for the fall. And, how one AM radio station geared up to get the facts out about COVID. 

Amanda Darche with the Ingham County Health department says she's seen how prescription opioid abuse can lead to heroin use.
United Nations Photo

Drug overdoses in Michigan were on a downward trend before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2019, there were 2,354 fatal overdoses in Michigan. 1,768 of them—or about 75%--were opioid-related.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Though COVID-19 vaccination appointments are becoming more widely available by the day, scheduling a dose can still be a tricky task. Depending on where you live, it might be easier for you to get vaccinated if you cross state lines. Some Southeast Michiganders have gone to get their vaccines in Ohio, where — at the moment — supply seems to be outpacing demand.

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 with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

I've been hearing about breakthrough infections in people who have been vaccinated. Should I be worried? What can I do to protect myself?

The short answer:

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended its Gatherings and Mask epidemic order on Friday until May 24.

The order includes expansion of mask requirements to children ages 2 to 4 to further protect the state’s residents. That part of the order takes effect April 26.

This addresses the increase in cases among younger Michiganders and follows recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, according to MDHHS.

a teen receiving a vaccine shot in her left arm
klavdiyav / Adobe Stock

The average age of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Michigan has been dropping as the total number of people hospitalized with the disease rises, health officials said Thursday.

Two-thirds of people hospitalized at Munson Healthcare, a network of hospitals and clinics across Northern Michigan, were under 65 years old, said the organization’s chief medical officer, Christine Nefcy.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan study finds female nurses’ risk of suicide is twice as high as the general population.

Researchers examined CDC data from 2007 through 2018.

Christopher Friese is the Director of the Center for Improving Patient and Population Health. He’s worried nurses in the U.S. have been in trouble for a long time and they were in trouble before the pandemic began.

A hospital emergency room entrance.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Hospitals and health care systems around Michigan are feeling the strain of increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Over 4,000 patients are currently hospitalized with the disease, and test positivity rates are up in many regions.

One of those regions is the Thumb, where three counties have positivity rates of over 30%: Tuscola at 30.5%, Sanilac at 35.3%, and Huron at 36.9%.

restaurant closed sign
Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, they’re heeeeere! Host April Baer, noted cicada enthusiast, talks with an entomologist about once-in-17 years emergence of Brood X. Plus, how the new COVID surge in Michigan is affecting businesses and Michigan’s plans to handle the crisis.