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Master Sgt. David Eichaker / Air National Guard

The state’s prisons have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 50% of Michigan’s prison inmates have been infected by the virus.

As inmate Debra McDaniel notes, "The United States wasn't even prepared for this, let alone a correctional facility."

WILL CALLAN / MICHIGAN RADIO

Nurses, housekeepers, and other frontline workers at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs hospital received their first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

The Ann Arbor site was the only VA hospital in Michigan to receive doses this week and one of 37 in the U.S. selected for their ability to vaccinate a large number of people and manage the Pfizer vials, which require ultra-cold storage.

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."

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Frontline workers at Michigan’s largest health care system started getting COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday.

Southeast Michigan’s Beaumont Health received 975 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two shots. It’s vaccinating the highest-priority health care workers, like respiratory therapist Tamara Allen, first.

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

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.

man in a mask gets a vaccine from health care worker in a mask
Adobe Stock

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.

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.

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

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.


Henry Ford Health System has installed a dozen specialized freezers to store two promising COVID-19 vaccines
Henry Ford Health System

Macomb County is expecting a vaccine for COVID-19 to arrive as early as next week. The county health department has obtained some of the ultra-cold freezers needed to store the Pfizer vaccine, and they've started preparing buildings for people to go get vaccinated. 

Bill Ridella is the director of the Macomb County Health Department. He says the first vaccine facility will be in Clinton Township.


Lots of unknowns as Michigan hospitals await first vaccine shipments

Dec 10, 2020
Adobe Stock

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.

HALFPOINT / ADOBE STOCK

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.

Adobe Stock


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.

Prison wall
Microsoft Images

Five Michigan inmates died this past weekend of COVID-19, bringing the total number of inmate deaths statewide to 94.  

42% of state prisoners have now been infected with the coronavirus, and inmates and their loved ones say that shows the state is not keeping them safe during the pandemic.

They are calling on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to use her executive authority to commute the sentences of hundreds of inmates who are nearing the end of their minimum sentences, who also pose a low risk to the safety of the public.

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.

Hospitals to Whitmer: Extend COVID-19 restrictions through holiday season

Dec 7, 2020
The receiving area of Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Spectrum Health

The chief medical officers of Michigan's hospitals and health systems issued an urgent plea Monday to the governor and state health officials, asking for an extension through the holidays of the three-week COVID-19 restrictions that are due to expire Tuesday.

They said the temporary restrictions — which suspended in-person classes at high schools and colleges statewide, along with eat-in dining at restaurants and bars and canceled organized sports and group exercise classes — have helped to stabilize the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, but it hasn't been enough.

JOEL SAGET / AFP via GETTY IMAGES

Appearing before the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic last week, state health department director Robert Gordon said that residents and staff in long-term care facilities would be one of the first groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. 

Many nursing homes will be receiving their doses free of charge from a large pharmacy chain, through a program organized by the CDC.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

With Michigan experiencing another wave of COVID-19 cases, there’s a new campaign to get more African-Americans to mask up.

Tonya Adair is the Chief Impact officer for the United Way of Southeastern Michigan.  She says the United Way is partnering with the Harlem Children’s Zone on the campaign.


She says the campaign will include public service advertising and distribution of personal protective equipment in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

During the month of November alone, the number of people who died from COVID-19 doubled in certain hospitals and health systems across Michigan. 

Sparrow Health System recorded 50 deaths between March and October. In November, it recorded 47. (Those numbers are considered unofficial, and could change after officials review the medical records.)

Similar trends were recorded in Muskegon County and Ottawa County, both in West Michigan.

Hospital leaders are asking people to still seek medical attention, even as more hospitals reach capacity.

As of Thursday, the state listed six hospitals at 100% capacity, meaning all of their inpatient beds are occupied. More than a dozen others are above 90% capacity.

“We’re able to accommodate more than we currently have, should the need occur,” says Dr. Loren Hamel, president of Spectrum Health Lakeland, where 100% of bed are currently occupied, according to state data.


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s National Guard will continue to play an important role in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic into next year.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the Trump administration has extended authorization for Guard members to receive federal pay and benefits through the end of March.  The authorization was scheduled to expire December 31.

courtesy of Spectrum Health

Hope.

A word that’s been in short supply in Michigan hospitals recently.

But now, just maybe, there's a sign of it.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Michigan declined slightly on Thursday, dropping to 3,793 adults with confirmed cases of the disease. The number is still below the peak number last seen in Michigan in the spring. But it represents a brief, welcome respite after a steep rise in cases that started in October.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, COVID-19 cases continue to rise and hospitals throughout Michigan are nearing capacity. A reporter who’s been following the story talks us through when a vaccine might be distributed to Michigan's frontline health workers. Also, the head of the state’s largest school district speaks to the challenges of 2020 and beyond. Plus, support for kids and families navigating grief this holiday season.

More Americans stayed home for Thanksgiving this year compared with last year — but by relatively small margins.

An NPR analysis of mobile phone location data showed that 42% of Americans with smartphones remained home, up from 36% last year.

prison bars
Thomas Hawk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

COVID-19 has been raging through two Michigan prisons in recent weeks, with large outbreaks in others.

Nearly three quarters of the inmates at Kinross Correctional have tested positive for COVID-19. The facility is located in Kincheloe, a town in the U.P.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit western counties in the Upper Peninsula hard this fall. The population of Delta County is about 36,000. There have been more than 2,500 cases of COVID-19 and 60 deaths.

Chris Anderson is with the Anderson Funeral Home in Escanaba’s downtown. He says the pandemic caught them by surprise. They did not see the surge of cases in the first wave of the infection in the spring.

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