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A member of Congress, who has led efforts to investigate alleged coronavirus scams, is calling for the federal government to crack down on an unproven treatment for COVID-19. Widespread sales of that purported treatment - a drug known as thymosin alpha-1 - were first identified by an NPR investigation earlier this month.

When Minnesota family physician Jay-Sheree Allen begins a visit with one of her patients, she starts by turning on the faucet and washing her hands. She no longer shakes hands to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission, so she takes a little more time with her hand-washing routine to chat before addressing her patients' medical concerns.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

COVID-19 appears to result in lasting physical symptoms, mental health problems, and economic stressors. 

That’s according to researchers at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, who collaborated with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to interview 638 people who contracted COVID-19 last spring. 

 

Emergency room hospital
Pixabay

Doctors in charge of Michigan hospitals are asking people in Michigan to voluntarily "do the right thing" to slow the spread of COVID-19, now that the Michigan Supreme Court says Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer does not have the authority to issue executive orders on COVID-19.

The statement, signed by 28 top medical officers of hospital systems across the state, was issued after COVID-19-related hospital admissions surged by more than 80% in recent weeks.

Dr. Gary Roth is Chief Medical Officer for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

morgueFile

Health care workers are slated to be in the first group to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan if it becomes available, according to a draft COVID-19 vaccination plan submitted last week to the Centers for Disease Control by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

When Darius Settles died from COVID-19 on the Fourth of July, his family and the city of Nashville, Tenn., were shocked. Even the mayor noted the passing of a 30-year-old without any underlying conditions — one of the city's youngest fatalities at that point.

RHODA BAER / FLICKR

Michigan has a goal to vaccinate about one million more people for the flu this year than it did last year, and so far, we’re making steady progress. 

a political cartoon about tuberculosis
Michigan History Center

To make sense of the present, it sometimes helps to look to the past. One moment in history that’s particularly relevant to our current moment is the tuberculosis epidemic during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Despite the differences in daily life and the advances in medicine and technology since then, the country’s response to tuberculosis outbreaks has clear parallels to the current COVID-19 crisis.

group of college students wearing face masks
Valerii / Adobe Stock

Ottawa County's "staying safe" order for some Grand Valley State University students lifted at midnight Friday.

But students on the Allendale campus are still being urged to take precautions to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, by wearing masks, physically distancing, and frequent handwashing.

COVID-19 cases among GVSU's students on the Allendale campus surged shortly after classes returned for the fall term. 

RAWPIXEL

Researchers at the University of Michigan say nursing homes might respond better to a second surge of COVID-19 if they have strong formal relationships with local hospitals and health officials. 

A new study looks at how three nursing homes in Washtenaw County responded to COVID-19 outbreaks in April.

 

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

Health officials at the University of Michigan are concerned about outbreaks of COVID-19 in residence halls on campus. The occupancy of the university's quarantine and isolation housing has gone from 17% a week ago to 46% as of Friday, according to the U of M's COVID-19 dashboard.

In U of M's weekly COVID-19 update briefing, officials expressed particular concern over an outbreak occurring at Mary Markley Hall. 

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

Michigan reported 2,030 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday—the largest one-day increase the state has seen since the pandemic began in March.

There is some nuance to that number. A computer glitch slowed data transfers earlier this week, which means some cases reported Thursday should have come in Wednesday.

Prison wall
Microsoft Images

A large and growing outbreak of COVID-19 at Marquette Branch Prison has now infected 85 corrections officers and other staff and 182 inmates as of Thursday afternoon, including 50 inmates who were recently transferred from an infection-free facility.

The 85 cases among staff is the highest number of staff testing positive in any one state prison so far.

Chris Gautz is a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. He says the new transfers were moved out of Chippewa Correctional Facility, after they allegedly participated in a riot.

Health officials in Kent County are pleading with people to take “simple precautions” as new COVID-19 case numbers rise, and hospitals throughout West Michigan see an increase in cases.

Spectrum Health, the area’s largest hospital system, reported 81 confirmed COVID-19 patients in its hospitals as of Thursday, an increase compared to the number of patients it treated for much of the summer.

A chain-link fence and barbed wire
Max Pixel

There's a big outbreak of COVID-19 at the Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz says it appears that both corrections officers and inmates were routinely failing to wear masks and take other precautions.

He says union officials with the corrections officers union initially claimed the coronavirus was brought into the prison by new inmates from the Chippewa Correctional Facility, transferred to Marquette after a riot, but Gautz says that's clearly not true.

Updated at 5:38 p.m. ET

Two coronavirus studies have been put on pause by drugmakers as they investigate safety concerns.

The pauses are not uncommon or cause for undue concern, but they highlight how little is known about the combination of medications prescribed to President Trump following his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Johnson & Johnson paused all clinical trials of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after a study participant became sick with an "unexplained illness."

stock photo of surgical masks on a table
Macau Photo Agency / Unsplash

The Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development is distributing 10,000 free masks to residents. It's a part of a state program that gives free masks and other personal protective equipment to community action agencies.

The masks are intended for low-income people, seniors, and other vulnerable populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Morghan Williams is the human services manager for the Washtenaw County office.

She says the county wants to make sure that all residents have masks.

GUNDULA VOGEL / PIXABAY

In August, during a drive-through parade at the Medilodge of St. Clair nursing home, Jane Ogden jumped from her idling car, popped open a beer, and rushed it to a wheelchair-bound man in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. “Drink it quickly,” she said, “or they might take it away from you.” 

She squeezed her dad’s arm and made to return to the car. Ogden ran into a nurse, who mildly reprimanded her. But she felt, after months of lockdown, that her dad needed the excitement. 

 

Editor's note: Since we published this story, Trump's physician said that the president has completed his treatment for COVID-19.

President Trump told Fox Business Network on Thursday that he will be taking a steroid for COVID-19 for a "little bit longer." As his physicians told reporters last weekend, Trump started taking the drug on Saturday while he was still at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

In case you were still procrastinating getting a flu shot this year, here's another reason to make it a priority.

There's a chance the vaccine could offer some protection against COVID-19 itself, says virologist Robert Gallo, who directs the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is chairman of the Global Virus Network.

green sign saying "no mask, no service" hanging on door to store
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A group of Michigan doctors is calling on Republican state lawmakers to support a mask mandate and other COVID-19 precautions.

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion that could restrict Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s authority to issue emergency orders.

The Committee to Protect Medicare is a liberal advocacy group. It has been advocating for mandating face coverings and other restrictions in the face of the pandemic.

In a bid to protect the candidates from the coronavirus, the stage for Wednesday night's vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City will feature plexiglass barriers between Vice President Pence and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Concerns about viral spread are heightened in light of the outbreak in the White House.

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
Rido / Adobe Stock

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.

 

Unsplash

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.

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