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Health

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Michigan's strict public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have proven successful at preventing COVID cases and saving lives. These are the preliminary findings by researchers at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health.

"It appears from our models that the social distancing that Michiganders practiced after November 15th over the holiday season prevented 109,000 cases," said University of Michigan professor Marisa Eisenberg, the study's lead researcher. 

All University of Michigan students in the Ann Arbor area are being advised to stay in place as the Washtenaw County health department tries to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.

The outbreak involves a mutation of the COVID-19 virus which can spread more easily. 

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Vaccine distribution in Michigan has been geographically uneven. But there’s a reason for that, says a public health official in the Upper Peninsula. The hard part, she says, can be explaining that to residents anxious to get vaccinated.

Today on Stateside, how the new COVID variant, present on the University of Michigan campus, is affecting the school and what it could mean for the rest of the state And, shelters in Grand Rapids are seeing an increase in the demand for services as the economic fallout from COVID pushes people out of housing. Plus, how new guidelines for vaccine priority have cut off much of the supply of doses for the Upper Peninsula.

Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

It’s going to take about a week for the state’s lab to answer an urgent question.

“Can we take some more proactive and aggressive action [against the more contagious COVID-19 variant] and really control these clusters that we're currently seeing?” Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, a Washtenaw County Health Department spokesperson, said Monday. “Or is, in fact, the variant already circulating more than we've detected?”

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

Many Michigan counties are looking for volunteers to help vaccinate people against COVID-19. And in some counties, those volunteers are able to get their shots as well.

Washtenaw County is offering that option, said county health department spokeswoman Susan Cerniglia. The county is currently operating one mass vaccination site, with plans to open another when vaccine supplies increase. They also use volunteers on mobile teams that go out to vaccinate vulnerable populations.

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More than half a million Michiganders have received a first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the state's health department. But a smaller cohort, as participants in clinical trials, have received vaccines made by other companies.

Illustration of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Two more people in Michigan are confirmed to be infected with a more contagious variant of COVID-19.

The state health department says the two women who tested positive are close contacts of the first Michigan resident to be diagnosed with the variant on Saturday. The first person known to have contracted the variant, B.1.1.7, had traveled to the U.K. All three women live in Washtenaw County and are associated with the University of Michigan.

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McLaren Health Care Corporation has agreed to pay a record $7,750,000 civil penalty to the U.S. government to resolve alleged violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The civil settlement was announced earlier this week by the U.S. Attorneys for the Western and Eastern Districts of Michigan.

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Michigan’s COVID-19 cases continue to plateau, hospitalizations continue to decline, and the seven-day average percentage of tests coming back positive fell to 7.6% over the week ending January 16.

Those are three takeaways from an epidemiology update hosted Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

a woman in scrubs puts on gloves in front of a car
Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says that there are over 12,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations scheduled at the TCF Center in Detroit in the coming weeks. The city wants to do even more, but doesn't know if it can count on a consistent number of doses.

"Everybody is having a tough week. In Detroit, we expected to get 9 to 10 thousand this week. We got 6000. We can work with 6000, but it is not what we had hoped to try to keep expanding eligibility," Duggan said in a press conference Tuesday.

While millions wait for a lifesaving shot, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus continues to soar upward with horrifying speed. On Tuesday, the last full day of Donald Trump's presidency, the official death count reached 400,000 — a once-unthinkable number. More than 100,000 Americans have perished in the pandemic in just the past five weeks.

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From southwest Michigan to the Upper Peninsula, rural health departments are warning residents of a “severely limited” vaccine supply, “a high volume of calls,” and “full capacity for our clinics.”

What that's meant for Steve Hall, health officer at the Central Michigan District Health Department, is having to continually “shift on the fly.”

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COVID-19 vaccinations will begin at a handful of Meijer pharmacies in Wayne County this week.

Prioritizing patients who are 65 or older, Meijer expects to give shots to 1,950 people — two shipments' worth of Pfizer doses — within a few days of receiving the doses.

Meijer’s director of corporate communications Frank Guglielmi says those shipments should arrive early this week.

3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

A new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced on Saturday.

The new variant, B.1.1.7, was identified in an adult woman from Washtenaw County. She had recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where the variant was first identified. MDHHS says the woman’s close contacts have been notified and are in quarantine. Two of those contacts have tested positive for COVID-19, though it’s unclear if they have the B.1.1.7 variant.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Michigan — so far — has not seen a large spike in COVID-19 cases since the winter holidays.

 

“While I am concerned about the slight uptick in cases after the holidays, we are not seeing the surge of hospitalization that we saw in the beginning of November,” Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said at a press conference Jan. 13.

a woman in scrubs puts on gloves in front of a car
Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Detroit launched its first major COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Wednesday at a drive-thru clinic set up in the garage of the TCF Center. City health officials made 400 appointments for Detroit seniors, teachers, and childcare providers.

“I'm an active person,” said Francena Dudely, an 87-year-old lifelong Detroiter, who was among those vaccinated. “I want to be able to get out a little bit and even if I still have to wear a mask, I will feel more comfortable.”

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

It'll be May, the state estimates, before Michigan can open up COVID-19 vaccines to the next wave of people. But if Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail could somehow get her hands on 83,000 doses of the vaccine – one for each of the county's currently eligible frontline workers, as well people older than 65 – she’s pretty sure she could get all those shots in arms in, say, three weeks.

We're No. 33! Or are we? How Michigan tracks COVID-19 vaccines could cost us

Jan 14, 2021
syringes in a blue basket
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The federal government gave states even more incentive this week to make sure they're getting COVID-19 shots injected into arms as quickly as possible.

States that don't efficiently immunize their people — and report the data accurately — won't get as many doses of COVID-19 vaccines as states that do. The change in the way vaccines are being distributed comes as the virus continues to spread across the nation, filling hospital beds and killing people at a record pace.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been charged in the Flint water crisis. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who nearly seven years ago, noticed something was wrong.

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Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer said last week she is hoping schools will be able to reopen in-person classes by March. She also announced that K- 12 school teachers are among the groups who can get the COVID-19 vaccinations. We talk about how that process will begin. And, we continue our look at Betsy Devos' legacy after her resignation from her position as Secreatary of Education. Plus, we’ll discuss yesterday’s news that former Governor Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water crisis.

Beating back the pandemic may come down to simple math: getting enough people vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, says the country will likely need a vaccination level of between 70% and 90% to reach herd immunity.

courtesy of Spectrum Health

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants Michigan to buy up to 100,000 of doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on its own.

The federal government already arranged to buy 200 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer, and it’s been coordinating distribution to the states.

But Governor Whitmer, along with governors from eight other states, says that process is taking too long.

Henry Ford Health System ends hydroxychloroquine study

Jan 11, 2021
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Promoted in April as the first large-scale drug study on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine to protect against COVID-19, the Detroit-based clinical trial has quietly been iced.

Henry Ford Health System officials told Bridge Michigan they could not find enough participants to continue studying whether the drug could help beat back the deadly pandemic.

a group of women on yoga mats in an exercise class
Unsplash

Being more physically fit may protect you from having severe COVID-19, according to a new study from Henry Ford Health System.

Researchers looked at patients who had taken an exercise stress test over the past four years, and were also diagnosed with COVID-19. That was about 250 people.

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Vaccinations are underway at Michigan’s long-term care facilities. Data from CVS show the pharmacy had distributed over 20,000 doses as of Friday.

Walgreens doesn’t provide the same state-level data, but says it expects to administer all first doses for those residents and staff who want them by January 25.

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Health officials believe that if it hasn't already, a new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus will soon land in Michigan. 

Two labs are on the lookout.

The state lab in Lansing and a research lab at the University of Michigan are actively sequencing genetic material from positive COVID-19 test samples to see if the variant — which was first identified in the U.K., and appears to spread more quickly — is present.

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Michigan's guidelines for prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine includes staff in correctional facilities and homeless shelters in its early phases, but not inmates and people living in homeless shelters.

That's a concern for the ACLU of Michigan, who released a memo this week asking the state to reconsider these groups to include residents of homeless shelters and inmates in Michigan's prisons and jails.

Kandace Day

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is now regularly releasing data about cases of an inflammatory condition that has affected some children who were, according to the state website, “infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19.”

There have been 58 confirmed cases in Michigan since April, according to a January 7 update. That is 15 more cases reported since the mid-December update. Their ages range from zero to 20.

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