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State of Michigan not releasing details of kids' coronavirus deaths

Oct 7, 2020
Family photo via Detroit Free Press

Michigan is among eight states nationally that have not released details about the number of children who've died from novel coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The state Department of Health and Human Services told the Free Press on Tuesday that "fewer than five" children have died of COVID-19 or its complications so far this year, but it would not disclose specifically how many kids have died or provide any other details.

this is a picture of someone getting a shot
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Today on Stateside, we revisit some of our favorite conversations from this year. We discuss why many experts say we should think about racism as a public health crisis. Plus, what the history of vaccine development can tell us about the timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Perhaps it's no surprise, but people are drinking more during the pandemic.

In some cases, by a lot.

American adults say they're drinking 14% more often during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in the journal JAMA Network Open. The increase in frequency of drinking for women was more pronounced, up 17% compared to last year.

SARAH CWIEK / MICHIGAN RADIO

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has released a planning guide that draws a strong connection between climate change and people’s health.

The document, called the Climate and Health Adaptation Planning Guide for Michigan Communities, is the result of 10 years of research funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

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Today on Stateside, COVID-19 hits home with Michigan’s Republican leaders. We hear from two journalists about how the lack of a mask mandate at the Michigan state Capitol hampers work in the legislature. Also, a veterinarian weighs in on the cheap vaccine that can prevent Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses--if owners choose to use it. Plus, an artist on bringing texture to children’s book illustrations.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Ottawa County Health Department is lifting its 14-day "Staying in Place" order for Grand Valley State University students at the Allendale campus.

The order came after a large outbreak of COVID-19 cases among students shortly after they returned to school in September.

Greg Sanial is Vice President of Finance at GVSU. He's in charge of the University's COVID-19 response.

Sanial says students largely complied with the order, and new cases of COVID-19 have fallen dramatically.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is tweaking how the state decides which nursing facilities can safely accept recovering COVID-19 patients. 

Under an executive order issued on Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will replace regional hub facilities with “care and recovery centers.”

 

The two are essentially the same.

 

Both of them — recovery centers and regional hubs — are isolation wings within nursing homes where residents with COVID-19 can recover. Both are supposed to be able to accept COVID patients from long-term care facilities that aren’t able to set up an isolation wing, or from hospitals, when patients can’t safely return to the facility where they live.

 

When the coronavirus arrived in Philadelphia in March, Dr. Ala Stanford hunkered down at home with her husband and kids. She's a pediatric surgeon with a private practice, and staff privileges at a few suburban Philadelphia hospitals. For weeks, most of her usual procedures and patient visits were canceled. So she found herself, like a lot of people, spending the days in her pajamas, glued to the TV.

WILL CALLAN / MICHIGAN RADIO

 

Last week, along with the rest of Adrian College’s nearly 2,000 students, Hunter Causie returned to in-person classes.

Michigan Tech University from an aerial view
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Today on Stateside, former Congressman Bart Stupak joins us to talk about the political climate in rural Michigan, and what he observes as the Democratic party moves left. Plus, the Upper Peninsula is dealing with some scary spikes in COVID-19 infection rates. We'll talk to Michigan Tech University's president about how that influenced his decision to pause some face-to-face classes.

Credit VCU CNS / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan is receiving nearly $80 million in federal funding to help counter the opioid crisis across the state. 

 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will be distributing the grant money to programs that aim to improve the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction, and reduce harm stemming from the crisis. 

 

To that end, part of the funding will increase the distribution of naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan), a drug use to reverse an opioid overdose. 

 

Blood test.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says fewer kids under age six are getting their blood tested for lead as compared to last year. 2020 started with comparable numbers of kids getting blood lead testing between 2019 and 2020.

In March of 2020, however, 48% fewer kids got tested compared to March 2019. There was a 76% decrease in testing in April 2020 compared to April 2019. The most recent data the state has is from May. There were 61% fewer kids getting tested in May 2020 compared to May 2019.

A nurse administers a vaccine.
Rhoda Baer / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

One in three parents do not plan to have their children vaccinated for the seasonal flu this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

And only one third of parents believe that it's more important for their children to get a flu shot this year than in previous years.

That's according to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at Michigan Medicine. 

Courtesy of Andrew Cohn

Today on Stateside, the Upper Peninsula recorded its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases this week, and Houghton County’s public schools will close face-to-face instruction starting Monday for two weeks. We check in with the Western U.P.’s health officer to find out more. Also, a documentary filmmaker’s first feature film, set in Michigan. Plus, a journalist and an organizer on Black voters’ roles in the upcoming presidential election.

3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

The Upper Peninsula recorded its biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases this week. In response, Houghton County Schools will close face-to-face instruction starting Monday for a two-week period. More outbreaks have been noted in Iron, Menominee, and other counties in the western U.P. 

Matthew Fentress was just 25 when he passed out while stuffing cannolis as a cook at a senior living facility six years ago. Doctors diagnosed him with viral cardiomyopathy, heart disease that developed after a bout of the flu.

Each week we answer some of your pressing questions about the coronavirus and how to stay safe. Email us your questions at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

Pest extermination helicopter spraying pesticide while flying
bdavid32 / Adobe Stock

The state of Michigan has completed an aerial spraying program over nearly a half million acres in hopes of reducing the risk of a disease spread by mosquitoes.

The state has been dealing with another outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Health officials say EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.  It's rare, but has a 33% fatality rate for people who get sick. 

prescription pill bottle
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Michigan health officials want to hear from residents of each region of the state about how the opioid crisis has affected them, their loved ones, and their community.

And they want feedback about services, programs, and policies.

DETROIT HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The Detroit Health Department wants to make the flu vaccine more accessible to city residents this fall.

 

One prong of the distribution effort is to provide 6,740 free shots to people living in emergency shelters, adult foster care facilities, and senior living facilities between October 14 and Christmas. 

 

Michigan infant, whose death was tied to COVID, had serious health troubles

Sep 18, 2020
Adobe Stock

A two-month-old boy — who Michigan’s top health official said this week had died from COVID-19 — had serious health conditions beyond the virus.

The child was born with gastroschisis, a birth defect in which a baby’s intestines develop outside the body. The condition was listed as the cause of his death Sunday, according to the Milwaukee County Medical examiner’s office, with the coronavirus as one of two complicating factors.

horses in a barn or stable
Engin Akyurt / Unsplash

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will be conducting aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes that spread the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. The state has confirmed 22 cases of EEE in horses since July 31, all of which were fatal.

According to the MDHHS, this is double the number of cases in horses as compared to 2019. This years' cases were spread across ten counties.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A top Ingham County Health official calls the situation “alarming.”

Monday, the county health department placed 21 Michigan State University fraternities and sororities under a mandatory quarantine for COVID-19.

In all, the Ingham County Health Department has identified 30 large houses in East Lansing with known exposure to the coronavirus. People living there have been ordered to quarantine for the next two weeks.  Residents of the quarantined properties are being told to remain at home unless they need medical care or necessities that cannot be delivered.

Mat Reding / Unsplash

State health officials are urging people in nine Michigan counties to postpone, reschedule, or cancel outdoor activities and events that take place at dusk or after dusk, due to a spike in Eastern Equine Encephilitis (EEE) infections in horses.

EEE is a mosquito-borne illness which primarily affects birds, but it can also be transmitted to other mammals, including horses and humans.

The counties where EEE infections have been found in horses are Barry, Clare, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, and Oakland.

METRON OF CEDAR SPRINGS

Visitation restrictions at long-term care facilities will ease up slightly on September 15. 

An order from the state health department will allow certain skilled nursing facilities, homes for the aged, and other long-term care facilities to hold outdoor visits for their residents, while maintaining safety measures such as distancing and mask-wearing requirements. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan will allow more families to visit loved ones in nursing homes and other residential facilities.

The state imposed restrictions on nursing home visits to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan's nursing homes. About a third of the state's coronavirus fatalities have been among people in long-term care facilities.   

DAVID CASSLEMAN / INTERLOCHEN PUBLIC RADIO

A legal challenge to COVID-19 testing requirements on Michigan farms has been dismissed in the federal court system. 

Two Michigan farms — True Blue Berry Management in Grand Junction, and Smeltzer Orchards in Frankfort — and several workers filed the lawsuit against the state in August, claiming the testing requirements discriminated against Latinos, who make up the majority of farm workers in the U.S.

 

LESTER GRAHAM / MICHIGAN RADIO

The Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic heard testimony Wednesday on recommendations issued last week by the state’s nursing home task force.

State lawmakers spent about an hour questioning Henry Ford Health System’s Dr. Betty Chu, who co-chaired the nursing home task force, about the report. 

 

RAWPIXEL

For the second week in a row, a comprehensive report has been released recommending how Michigan’s health department could better manage COVID-19 in nursing homes. 

DAVID MARK / PIXABAY

In an executive order issued last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said gyms and swimming pools could re-open September 9, with added health and safety measures in place. 

Some gym owners, however, are approaching the re-opening process with caution.

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