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Studies show Covid-19 worsens pregnancy complication risk

BY Jen Christensen  Pregnant women who develop Covid-19 symptoms risk emergency complications and other problems with their pregnancies, according to two new studies. The disease also puts their children at risk. Dr. Gil Mor, a reproductive immunologist who did not work on the study but reviewed the work, said it's also possible that the problems could be related to chronic inflammation caused by Covid-19. "Inflammation is extremely dangerous for both the mother and the development of the fetus. A chronic inflammation is now a fight for the survival of the mother and the fetus, and in every fight, they pay they pay a price," said Mor, who leads a research lab at Wayne State University that studies the immune system during pregnancy and the impact of pathogens. "We need to do everything in our hands in order to prevent the chronic inflammation." 
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Arab women have staked out college paths for themselves, as education became essential to community identity

There is little doubt that the Arab American community in Metro Detroit has made great headways in gaining political and economic security as it grows and evolves. Much of this momentum can be attributed to a culture of professionalization and educational attainment in Arab enclaves like Dearborn and Hamtramck. So much so that this drive towards education has shaped the identity of the population over time. The community has grown outward from its working class immigrant roots to gain footings in the local and national political arena, medicine, law, the arts and more. It is no doubt Arab families, like many other American families, hold education in high regards, just as its educational achievements affirm the thriving community’s hard work in building better futures for its generations. The demands of a competitive, globalized economy have made secondary and postsecondary education a need, like in any other American community. But the data also gives a glimpse into college preferences for many Arab American students, and indeed their families. As a significantly immigrant community, the need to stay connected within the local area is a factor in deciding where to apply for college, for many students. Many students take advantage of the area’s well known universities. Reports from Dearborn schools show most of the common colleges for graduates to enroll in are within the metro area, including Wayne State University, Henry Ford College, University of Michigan-Dearborn, or campuses a little further away like University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Eastern Michigan and other state schools. 
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Return of Dlectricity shines a light on new plans for Detroit's Cultural Center district

By Lee Devito  It's been quite some time since we last saw Dlectricty, Detroit's biennial-ish festival of eye-popping light-based art installations. First launched in 2012, the fest returned in 2014, but the 2016 edition was postponed by the construction of the QLine streetcar. Then a plan to return in 2020 was scrapped due to the pandemic. It could be the start of a new rhythm for the festival. "You know, there doesn't really seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason between these years," Annmarie Borucki, director of arts and culture at Midtown Detroit, Inc., tells Metro Times. "It could change over time, but I think because of the amount of time and the amount of money it costs to do this, it really will either be a biennial or triennial moving forward." Borucki says the proposal would complement a master plan for a reimagined campus for Wayne State University, and the two plans would share various design elements for a more cohesive whole. Some of Dlectricy's programming extends onto WSU's campus, including a Tron-like installation in WSU's Prentis Building by the Japanese artist Takatuki Mori, which covers an ultraviolet-lit space with a grid, making it look like you're walking into a virtual reality space.     
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New NIH research study to investigate psychosocial determinants of cardiovascular disease risk among urban African American adults

The Biopsychosocial Health lab from Wayne State University has been awarded $3,590,488 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to conduct a project titled “Stress and Cardiovascular Risk Among Urban African American adults: A Multilevel, Mixed Methods Approach.”  The project, led by Samuele Zilioli, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University, aims to provide a fine-grained characterization of the psychosocial factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and inflammation among urban middle-aged and older African American adults.  According to Zilioli, despite the steady decline in CVD morbidity and mortality in the U.S. over the last few decades, African American adults bear a disproportionate share of CVD burden.” Most of the research in this area has focused on proximate medical risk factors — such as diabetes and dyslipidemia — for CVD risk,” said Zilioli. “Only recently, however, have researchers started to consider the role of more distal risk factors, such as psychosocial stressors.” 

Detroit confronting an infrastructure challenge

By Ari Shapiro  Before the month is up, the House is expected to vote on the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. There's funding to improve the electrical grid, provide internet access for rural areas and much more. And the widespread need for these funds is already clear and present. Each day this week, we will hear from people and communities who are experiencing the frequent, if not daily, obstacles of failing infrastructure that this bill hopes to address. Our co-host Ari Shapiro starts our coverage in Detroit, Mich., where the city is confronting a challenge that will only get worse as the planet keeps heating up. ARI SHAPIRO: The sentiment goes beyond just the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. Professor Carol Miller of Wayne State University in Detroit has been studying water infrastructure for decades, and she tells me people used to ask her about contaminants, whether the local fish they caught were safe to eat. But these days... CAROL MILLER: The questions that are being asked at dinners and out with friends is a - questions relating to flooding - like, why is this happening? Why is it that disadvantaged people in the city have to go into their basements several times a year to pump out, or pail out, sewage that has gathered in the basement from a storm?SHAPIRO: And when somebody at that dinner party says - so is this big infrastructure bill going to make a difference? - what do you tell them? MILLER: I would tell them it should, that there's tons of money that look like it's going to be heading in that direction - so it should. I'd say it all depends on the people that are making those decisions. 
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We don’t know how many kids are in the juvenile justice system

By Garlin Gilchrist, Sheryl Kubiak and Melanca Clark  Missing data is missing people. Absent complete and accurate data, policies to improve the lives of Michiganders may not reach those who are not counted. The issues with data access, consistency, integrity, and transparency span across issue areas, but of particular concern is the prevalence of these data problems in Michigan’s adult and youth criminal justice systems. A new report released Friday by Wayne State University, Overview of the Criminal Legal System in Michigan: Adults and Youth, illuminates the data challenges Michigan faces to improve public safety and community well-being. As noted in the report, Michigan’s data problems impact thousands of young people, adults, and families that touch the justice system. For example, the total number of young people in the youth justice system is unknown because of data limitations at the county and state levels. 
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Wayne State basketball to host Michigan in exhibition to open new arena

Wayne State will open its new basketball arena with a flourish. The Warriors will host Michigan in an exhibition in the inaugural game at the new arena on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. It’s a collaboration between Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel for a high-level opponent in the debut of the new arena for the Warriors, who play in Division II. "I truly appreciate the willingness of Coach (Juwan) Howard and Warde to provide this opportunity to open our arena with the state's premier Division 1 program," Fournier said in a statement.  "To me, it underscores their genuine support for the City of Detroit and our community.” Wayne State also has a partnership with the Pistons on the new arena, which also will house the Pistons’ G League franchise, the Motor City Cruise. The Cruise will begin their first season in the G League in the fall as well. In the past, Wayne State has played against Michigan in games at Crisler Center. This time, the Wolverines are returning the favor. "I want to personally thank Coach Howard and his staff for helping us open our new basketball arena," Wayne State coach David Greer said. "It certainly has been a long time coming (with the new arena) and the partnership with the Detroit Pistons made it happen. To have a Division I program in Michigan be a part of our celebration of opening our new arena will make it a big event for our young men since Michigan is a big part of Detroit basketball.”
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The war in Afghanistan: Michigan experts weigh in on what could’ve been done differently

On Monday, President Joe Biden addressed the American people after the United States began evacuating Afghanistan. The Taliban now controls the country and Kabul, its capital city, for the first time since the U.S. invaded the country almost 20 years ago. Saeed Khan is a senior lecturer of Near East and Asian Studies at Wayne State University. Khan says American involvement in the region has a history of nation-building, and many Americans do not realize that the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan predates 9/11. “American involvement, to be accurate, is not just the last 20 years in Afghanistan. It actually goes back to 1979 in our efforts to fight a proxy war against the Soviet invasion there.” He thinks that the U.S. insisting the Taliban not be a part of the new government in any way was a mistake. “So here we find them without bringing the Taliban to the table earlier, understanding that they were not only going to have a seat at the table but that they were going to be dictating perhaps what was going to be on the menu, what needed to occur.”
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WSU endowment scholarship community bolstered by alum

Out of her passion and devotion to high school and college students, Detroit philanthropist Carolyn Patrick-Wanzo is working to protect the future of social work and music through the creation of several endowment scholarships at Wayne State University with her late husband. Patrick-Wanzo, 76, became interested in the world of endowment scholarships when she and her husband, Mel Wanzo, a trombone player best known for playing in the Count Basie Orchestra decided to give back to the community. “He would say, ‘You can give your life to the music and in 10 years nobody would know you existed,’” she said of her jazz musician husband who played the trombone in the big band. “We would talk about, ‘Let’s do something sustainable,’ when we retired.” That sustainability came in the form of endowment scholarships in the music department at WSU – the first one in 2003.  
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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to challenge 2020 census results showing population decline

The number of Black residents in Detroit fell while the hispanic, white and Asian populations grew over the last 10 years, according to U.S. Census population results for 2020 released Thursday. Detroit's overall population dropped 10.5% in the last decade, the latest results show. "Detroit has been declining in population from nearly 2 million sometime in the (19)50s and the trend became really apparent with the 1960 census and has gone down ever since then. There’ve been signs that it might be declining in recent years," said Lyke Thompson, director of Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies. "There's a lot of people that are moving into certain parts of the city ... when does the trend of people moving in offset the trend of people moving out?" Thompson said much of the historic decline was a result of the loss of manufacturing jobs and plants, particularly a decentralization of the auto industry, shifting outside of Detroit. On top of that, white residents left the city after 1950 and moved to areas such as Oakland and Macomb counties, and the draw of new housing in the suburbs contributed to Detroit's population decline, he said. In the latest census, for example, the non-Hispanic Black population in Macomb grew. "That’s something that can be turned around if you make significant efforts to do infill housing," Thompson said. "The housing is just so in need of repair that people keep moving out of those areas, and those houses get abandoned and they have to be torn down. It's really a race between repairing older housing, building new housing and overcoming the tendency for people to move out by making more attractive spaces for people to move into."
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The aching red: Firefighters often silently suffer from trauma and job-related stress

Arash Javanbakht, associate professor of psychiatry, wrote a piece for The Conversation. “Images of tragedy, loss of entire communities and the terrible destruction wrought by deadly wildfires in the West have sadly become all too common. But the public hears relatively little about the suffering of the firefighters who risk their lives and are away from their families for days and weeks at a time…While the choice to become a firefighter often stems from a passion for, and a mindset of, helping others and saving lives, being constantly exposed to death, injury and suffering comes with a cost. Cumulative stressors include the physical toll on the body, long working hours, work-related sleep disturbance and an inability to attend to daily family life. I am a psychiatrist and trauma expert who often works with first responders as well as refugees and victims of war crimes. While many people think of firefighters as the happy heroes, the real-life, day-to-day experiences of these heroes can have real consequences for their mental health that remain largely invisible to the public eye.”
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Detroit Public Schools to require masks for students, staff in new school year

Detroit Public Schools Community District will require masks be worn by all students and staff inside its buildings for the school year beginning Sept. 7. DPSCD had previously adopted a mask policy that would allow those fully vaccinated to not wear masks in classrooms but pushed for a change after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations that all people, including those vaccinated against COVID-19, should return to wearing masks at crowded indoor locations including schools. Teena Chopra, chief of infectious diseases at Wayne State School of Medicine and a Detroit Medical Center physician, said schools, particularly those in areas with elevated community spread of the coronavirus, should be mandating mask wearing given the rising delta variant. "I think it is deadly and dangerous behavior to not require masks," Chopra said. "This virus is extremely unforgiving and elementary age children, they are completely unprotected. Mask mandates have to be there until community transmission goes down. That can happen as soon as people get vaccinated. This is not the time to dwell on breakthrough infections, but to increase vaccinations across the nation," Chopra said. "Our children are going to suffer the most. We are seeing severe infections in children. There are children that are in ICUs (intensive care units) and (on ventilators). The breakthrough infections are there. Vaccines are not there to prevent breakthrough infections. They are there to prevent severe illness and hospitalization and death."
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"Just keep that person alive": Michigan's harm reduction strategies prevent opioid overdoses

While the COVID-19 crisis has held Michigan's attention for the past year and a half, a different deadly epidemic is taking an increasing number of Michiganders' lives. From 2000 to 2018, opioid overdose deaths have grown tenfold in Michigan. And according to Amy Dolinky, senior advisor of Michigan opioids strategy with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), those numbers grew by another 14% in the past year. The state has a seven-pillar strategy to combat the opioid epidemic, one of which is sometimes controversial, yet also quickly gaining recognition and acceptance for its effectiveness: harm reduction. Harm reduction involves expanding access to naloxone and sterile syringes, aiming to minimize harmful effects for those who are using opioids. With funding from MDHHS. Wayne State University professor Brad Ray has spearheaded efforts to put naloxone vending machines into Michigan's county jails and other accessible sites. "The struggle is: How do you get to the people who are going to use naloxone? Jails seemed like a really good opportunity to do that," Ray says. Ray notes that vending machines have been highly effective elsewhere in the country. Los Angeles County has distributed over 34,000 naloxone doses since it began installing vending machines in jails in 2020. So far in Michigan, jails in Monroe, Jackson, Delta, and Kalamazoo counties have the vending machines. Individuals being released can grab a naloxone kit for free, complete with instructions, on their way out. Ray has ordered 10 more of the customized vending machines. Sites in Kent, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Alpena counties are each slated to receive one. "Just keep that person alive," Ray says. "They can't get clean or in recovery if they're dead. Sometimes it takes time."
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Wayne State establishes infectious disease research center to aid in future pandemics

Wayne State University announced Monday the opening of a new center focused on the study of infectious diseases and strategies to combat future pandemics. The Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases will enhance training and research in the field of public health. The center is not a physical building but a collection of doctors, researchers and professors at the Detroit-based university. "The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered local, state and national mindsets toward infectious disease threats, including pandemic diseases," Dr. Mark Schweitzer, dean of Wayne State's School of Medicine and vice president of health affairs for the university, said in a news release. "The pandemic revealed deep and broad gaps in our clinical and public health infrastructure that responds to pandemics. "In line with the mission of WSU to support urban communities at risk for health disparities, the center will have the expertise and capacity to support and collaborate with neighborhoods, hospitals and public health agencies to deliver state-of-the-art diagnostics, treatments and preventive strategies for the benefit of all residents in Detroit and other communities." Work done at the center will focus on vaccine development, clinical vaccine evaluational, deployment strategies for the vaccine in underserved populations and research on pandemic mitigation efforts. Directors of the new center include: Dr. Teena Chopra, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases; Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor of pharmacy practice; Dr. Marcus Zervos, head of infectious diseases division for Henry Ford Health System, professor of medicine and assistant dean of WSU Global Affairs. Key faculty include Dr. Phillip Levy, professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president of translational science and clinical research at WSU, and Matthew Seeger, professor of communication.

An Amazon site's Black workers keep finding nooses. The company needs to act.

In May, workers building a new Amazon facility in the town of Windsor, Connecticut, came across a noose on the property. It was the eighth noose they encountered since construction on the facility began in late 2020. The repeated occurrences forced Amazon to delay construction on several occasions and incited a great deal of tension among local residents. In many ways, the noose is the quintessential, if deeply troubling, American symbol. Much like the Confederate battle flag, which gained increasing popularity as Black Americans worked to improve their socioeconomic conditions, nooses have become a key weapon for those who resist racial equality. According to Kidada E. Williams, associate professor of history at Wayne State University and the author of “They Left Great Marks on Me,” “The hangman’s noose is the most potent artifact of the history of lynching and other forms of racist violence in the U.S. When racists hang them in public places they are communicating their belief in Black people’s disposability and invoking a history of its reality. Like their lynching forebears the people who hang nooses in such public places as workplaces, schools, museums are using symbolism to project white supremacist power and intimidate Black and brown people.”
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Wayne State to require vaccinations for fall return to campus

Wayne State University will require everyone on campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall and must provide proof by Aug. 30 to be allowed on campus, President M. Roy Wilson announced Tuesday. The university will also require masks indoors at least through Sept. 15 amid a surge of cases linked to the delta variant and lagging vaccination rates. "As we have from the beginning of the pandemic, we are today revising our campus response to respond to emerging evidence and local data," Wilson wrote to the campus community. "To best protect the health and safety of our campus community, Wayne State will require all students, faculty and staff who plan to be on campus during the fall semester to receive their COVID-19 vaccination." Wilson noted that COVID-19 cases are increasing across the nation and positivity rates locally have grown recently from 2.4 to 3.3 percent. "The latest data regarding the delta variant is concerning," Wilson wrote. "This variant spreads more easily and may be transmitted by vaccinated individuals with rare breakthrough cases. Thankfully, the data also show that vaccines continue to be highly effective, particularly in protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death. Full vaccination of our campus community will eventually eliminate the need for masks and allow a renewed sense of normalcy in our interactions," Wilson wrote.
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Here’s what you need to know about latest COVID-19 surge, delta variant

There is a new surge of COVID-19 cases being driven by the delta variant. This strain of the virus is much more contagious than the original strain that emerged in March 2020. Michigan has seen a more than 180% increase in cases over two weeks. “Even if you do get the infection, as a breakthrough case, the likelihood that you’re going to end up in the hospital or in the intensive care unit or … die, is very, very low,” says Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor and director of research at Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. This spike in caseloads has caused many universities — including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University — to require staff, students and faculty to be vaccinated before the start of the school year. Just over 55% of people 16 years or older are fully vaccinated in Michigan.
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Michigan health experts worry as COVID-19 cases climb with delta variant

The United States has finally reached a goal set by President Joe Biden to get 70% of adults with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, it's coming in the midst of a surge of cases nationwide. Right now, 47 states, including Michigan, are categorized as "high or substantial" community transmission. Five states are in such bad shape, they accounted for nearly half the new cases across the country last week. Dr. Teena Chopra, a professor of infectious diseases at Wayne State University, said the delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading fast, and the viral load is 1,000 times than that of the original virus. "We need to keep moving forward and we need to move forward with our vaccinations rates faster than before because we don't want to give this virus a chance to win," Chopra said. As of Monday, 33 of Michigan's 83 counties – including Oakland, Macomb and Livingston – are considered to have substantial or high transmission rates. In these areas, the CDC advises both the vaccination and unvaccinated wear masks. Late last week, just 10 rural counties fit the CDC's criteria. Michigan health officials are worried that if the virus keeps replicating, the next variant might escape vaccination. Beaumont Health System currently has 64 COVID-19 patients admitted – 3 of whom are vaccinated. That's .06% of patients having breakthrough cases. "It's a known fact that vaccinations are the only way out of his pandemic and when we have that tool in our tool box the community has to get vaccinated and help each other through those tough times," Chopra said.