Health | Michigan Radio


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Editor's Note: This article was originally published February 3, 2021. Some of the information regarding research and the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies has likely changed since its original publication. However, we are re-sharing this content following Governor Gretchen Whitmer's April 14, 2021, press conference where she mentioned monoclonal antibodies as a treatment for COVID-19. There is still valuable information on how the treatment works, but how difficult it may be to use it given the current number of cases in Michigan.

arm of a person receiving an infusion in a hospital bed
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Michigan will expand the use of a COVID-19 treatment in hopes of substantially reducing climbing hospitalizations and deaths. Additional doses of monoclonal antibodies will be given to hospitals and other providers, which will be asked to add infusion sites.

The treatment has concentrated doses of lab-made antibodies to fight coronavirus infections and is geared toward people who are at high risk for severe symptoms or hospitalization.

In certain circles of San Francisco, a case of syphilis can be as common and casual as catching the flu, to the point where Billy Lemon can't even remember how many times he's had it.

"Three or four? Five times in my life?" he struggles to recall. "It does not seem like a big deal."

At the time, about a decade ago, Lemon went on frequent methamphetamine binges, kicking his libido into overdrive and silencing the voice in his head that said condoms would be a wise choice at a raging sex party.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan is heeding the advice of federal agencies, and pausing its use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

That throws a wrench in efforts to ramp up vaccination as the virus resurges. And that’s particularly true in Detroit, where vaccination coverage lags the rest of the state.

The city is adjusting on the fly, for now.

Today on Stateside, Michigan is hitting the pause button on the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after evidence of a serious, but incredibly rare, side effect emerged. We dive into what that means for Michiganders. Plus, a conversation with Congressman Dan Kildee about seeking treatment for PTSD symptoms he experienced following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. And a conversation with poet Tommye Blount, whose new collection grapples with the nuances of being Black and queer in Detroit. 

Governor’s suicide prevention commission makes recommendations

Apr 13, 2021

Michigan’s Suicide Prevention Commission published its first full report, recommending steps that the authors said would decrease the number of suicide attempts and deaths in the state.

“We must act now,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, wrote. “The preventable nature of suicide makes Michigan’s current suicide rates unacceptable.”

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Doctors are encouraging Michigan parents to get their children’s routine vaccines up to date.

During the COVID-19 pandemic there’s been a significant decline in the percentage of children getting their measles, mumps and other vaccines.



Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her administration are selling a message of personal responsibility to curb the spread of COVID-19. In a recent interview on CNN’s “Inside Politics,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said, “we can vaccinate our way out of this pandemic.” But epidemiologists and public health experts say the state will struggle to outpace COVID variants without tightening restrictions.

man in a mask gets a vaccine from health care worker in a mask
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People living in some Detroit and Hamtramck neighborhoods will get a chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine close to home this week and next. Mobile vaccination clinics at more than a dozen sites are set to start on Wednesday April 14, and run through the following Wednesday.

State and city health officials are targeting areas at higher risk for COVID based on factors like race, housing, and transportation. Detroit's vaccination rate has consistently lagged the state average.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Detroit is lagging the state when it comes to getting residents vaccinated against COVID-19, and the city is now stepping up efforts to correct that.

As of last week, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, more than 39% of people in Michigan have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. In Detroit, that number is less than 23%.

Workers weary, patients angry, as COVID fills Michigan hospitals — again

Apr 9, 2021
Ryan Garza / Bridge Michigan

With an eye on his father’s bloodied face, Barry Jensen began punching numbers into his cell phone from the hospital emergency room.

a person holds a vaccine vial
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When vaccinations opened to northwest Michigan’s older population, health officials reported a “crushing demand.” Now that appointments have opened to all ages, they can’t find enough people.

The health officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, Lisa Peacock, says with almost half the region vaccinated, the other half seems to be hesitant.

Michigan State University launches a student-only vaccine clinic

Apr 9, 2021
Michigan State Spartans
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is launching a student only vaccine clinic beginning Friday. 3,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being made available to students by appointment only.

Mary Stout is a senior at MSU and the director of Health, Safety and Wellness for the undergraduate student government at the university. She says she’s encouraged by the university’s focus on accessibility.

Several Michigan hospitals postpone surgical procedures because of COVID-19 surge

Apr 8, 2021
Katherine Raymond / Michigan Radio

As a third, intense coronavirus wave bears down on Michigan, several hospital leaders from around the state said Thursday they have no choice but to postpone some surgical procedures to ensure they have the capacity to care for the crush of sick COVID-19 patients coming through their doors.

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High school basketball finals are happening this week in Michigan.

That’s despite the fact that the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has recommended that Michigan, among other states, restrict indoor youth sports.

Mercedes Mejia

Today on Stateside, COVID-19 and the threat to schools as many districts approach the remaining weeks of the school year. Then, a new PBS documentary about Ernest Hemingway highlights how summers in northern Michigan influenced his writing. And, while transcribing letters about Hemingway, students uncover the unfortunate story of Marjorie Bump.

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

Today on Stateside, a small number of fully vaccinated people are still getting sick. That’s not necessarily cause for alarm. Plus, a conversation with poet Thomas Lynch about his new collection of poems and navigating the grief of his daughter’s death. And a citizen science project helps make data about Michigan’s lakes and aquatic wildlife more accessible.

It's been almost 15 years, but for Lakisa Muhammad, it's still hard to look back on all that went wrong with her daughter's delivery.

She expected a fulfilling experience — an all-natural water birth with a midwife by her side. But in the weeks before her due date, the birth center where she had scheduled the delivery suddenly closed its doors. It was time for a new plan.

Emergency room hospital

Today on Stateside, state Senator Ed McBroom defends a controversial package of election bills making their way through the state legislature. Plus, Black farmers who are teaching their communities about growing their own food. And, an ER doctor about the potential new surge and its impact on hospitals.

vaccinator giving someone a covid vaccine through the window their car
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

State workers who can do their jobs remotely are being told to stay home longer while Michigan gets the spread of COVID-19 under control.

Office workers were supposed to head back to their offices May 1st. Now they’re being told to expect TO work remotely through at least mid-July.

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Michigan’s surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past couple of weeks — with some hospitals nearing bed capacity — has shocked many back to reality about where we are in the pandemic. 

“Our volumes in the emergency department are going up, and the numbers are as significant as they had been with the prior surge, although the types of complaints and patients are changing,” said Dr. Patricia Nouhan, an emergency room doctor at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit.

Linda Heard receives her COVID vaccine during a drive-thru clinic in Ypsilanti at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Spring Quiñones was getting goosebumps, watching one person after another walk into the middle of this large classroom-turned-COVID-19 vaccine clinic, at St. Francis of Assisi church in Ann Arbor.

“Oh my god, it’s hitting me!” she laughed. Some 200 people had appointments at this March 16 pop-up clinic for Spanish-speakers. And getting it off the ground hadn’t been easy.

Over the course of two weeks in March, Washtenaw County health officials say they leaned heavily on community leaders and activists to organize a series of specialized vaccine clinics aimed at minorities.

And based on preliminary data from the county, it may have actually worked.

University of Michigan/DMACS

More Detroiters now say they’re very likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine than said so in the fall, according to a University of Michigan survey.

The University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study regularly surveys Detroiters about their lives and communities. Its latest survey covered more than 2200 people.

a hospital hallway with people at the end of it
Robin Erb / Bridge

Michigan's COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising, and they're rising fast.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

West Michigan’s largest vaccination site is opening up to everyone over the age of 16, effective immediately.

Anyone who wants to sign up can schedule their COVID-10 vaccination at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic here. The clinic is located at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

Spectrum Health, the largest hospital system in the region, says 12,500 people got a dose of the vaccine at the clinic on Monday, the largest single day mass-vaccination in the state so far. And they plan to vaccinate more than 50,000 at the clinic this week.

a table set up with people around it at the Ford Field vaccination site in Detroit
Vince Duffy / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, mass vaccination sites are opening in Michigan’s largest cities as the state races against another spike in COVID-19 cases. Also, we check in with two public health officials about the challenges of reaching herd immunity. Plus, the history of sea shanties sung by Black sailors on the Great Lakes.

Courtesy Photo

Need some restorative listening? Look no further. This is Getting Through, a new series where we cover the stories and sounds of how we’re staying grounded during this really challenging moment.

In this installment, we cook a meal with shane bernardo (who uses they and him pronouns and prefers their name lower-case). For bernardo, cooking cultural foods has been a practice to stay grounded during the past few months. bernardo is Filipino, a life-long Detroiter, and uses food as a medium for healing.

Michigan Health and Hospital Association

The number of people in their thirties and forties being admitted to Michigan hospitals with COVID-19 now matches those numbers from the state’s fall-winter surge, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

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With Michigan in the midst of rising cases again in the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Clair County is being hit especially hard. St. Clair County's average test positivity rate over the last two weeks, at 20.3%, is nearly double the statewide average. The county's hospitalization rate is currently the highest in the state, and is more than double the hospitalization rate in the next hardest hit county, Crawford. 

3D rendering of coronavirus
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The death toll from COVID-19 in Michigan officially surpassed 16,000 thousand today. That’s as the state races to vaccinate more people while the number of confirmed infections rise, and the number of people hospitalized because of the virus is at its highest level since January.

While the expanded availability has given a sign of hope for many in the state, public health leaders warn the risks of the virus haven’t gone away just yet.