COVID-19 in the news

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Why student athletes need a new playbook to stay safe in the COVID-19 era

Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sports science, wrote a piece for The Conversation. “Kids are eager to play ball, and parents are eager to be back on the sidelines supporting them. But COVID-19 cases have risen in places where kids have been playing sports, complicating the issue. Michigan, where I live, is now the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The resumption of youth sports activities has been widely implicated in Michigan’s latest COVID-19 surge, with 40% of new outbreaks occurring in K-12 schools or youth programs.  Experts also blame Michigan’s unprecedented rise to the top on an unfortunate mixture of reopening, virus variants and COVID-19 fatigue. As an exercise scientist and clinician, I believe that sports participation – and even watching sports – has health and social benefits which far exceed winning and losing. My physiologist brain, however, argues that at this very moment, people should be focusing their energy not against each other, but rather toward defeating the world’s deadliest team: SARS-CoV-2, or, if you will, Team Coronavirus. 
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143,518 US public library workers are keeping their communities informed, connected and engaged – but their jobs may be at risk

Christine D'Arpa, assistant professor of library and information sciences, Wayne State University; Rachel D. Williams, assistant professor of library and information science, Simmons University; and Noah Lenstra, assistant professor of library and information science, University of North Carolina – Greensboro, wrote an article for The Conversation. America’s public library workers have adjusted and expanded their services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to initiating curbside pickup options, they’re doing many things to support their local communities, such as extending free Wi-Fi outside library walls, becoming vaccination sites, hosting drive-through food pantries in library parking lots and establishing virtual programs for all ages, including everything from story times to Zoom sessions on grieving and funerals.
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COVID-19 vaccines appear to be working. But some recent headlines lack context and cause confusion

COVID-19 vaccines appear to be working well in Michigan to prevent people from getting sick or dying. But some news consumers might be getting the wrong impression about how safe the vaccines really are. And many recent headlines — including from established and reputable news sources — aren’t helping. MichMash hosts Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth discuss those headlines and why they might be misleading, and continue the conversation with Wayne State University Associate Professor of Journalism Fred Vultee, who wrote headlines for 25 years as a newspaper editor and now specializes in media framing and news practice. He noticed these headlines with concern. “I don’t want to say that this one headline is gonna make people say, ‘Bang. No vaccine.’ What this can do is maybe amplify or — ‘See, I told you so’ — or remind you that your initial idea, ‘I am scared of vaccines,’ might have been the right one to think about,” says Vultee. “We’re not going to say offhand that this media message makes people get up and walk across the room and turn off the TV. But we say that if it amplifies the wrong ideas, we’d rather have it steer in the direction of amplifying the right ideas.”    
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Spotlight on the News: Michigan's COVID-19 surge; what do top medical experts think?

Spotlight on the News examined Michigan's recent surge in COVID-19 cases through the eyes of two of the state's most experienced infectious disease medical experts. Guests included Professor Marcus Zervos, MD, Assistant Dean, Global Affairs, Wayne State Medical School & Division Head, Infectious Diseases, Henry Ford Health System; and Associate Professor Paul E. Kilgore, MPH, MD, FACP, Pharmacy, Family Medicine & Public Health, Wayne St. University & Senior Investigator, Global Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System. What do they think is behind Michigan being the nation's latest coronavirus hot spot?
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How 5 colleges have reacted to spring COVID spikes

With semesters coming to a close, commencements on the horizon and the hope of vaccines being dispensed to students, colleges aren’t taking chances when a spike in numbers occurs. Institution leaders are being quite vocal in letting students know those trends are not OK. Wayne State University, located in Detroit, simply has been caught in a wave of local cases forced to cancel sporting events, halt in-person instruction and restrict access to certain facilities for 10 days, taking an abundance of caution to protect those in the city. At the same time, it is also asking its community to protect itself. “We continue to urge members of campus to get a vaccination if they haven’t yet done so,” President M. Roy Wilson told Wayne State’s faculty and students. “While we are all hopeful about the future with the rollout of vaccinations, we must continue to take the appropriate precautions to ensure the health and safety of our campus and the broader Detroit community.”
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COVID vaccine and kids: What does the future hold for parents concerned about their children's health?

Dr. Eric McGrath didn’t need to think hard about getting the vaccine. "For me it was a no-brainer to get the vaccine as soon as it was available and the same for my wife who’s a nurse," said the Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Wayne State University School of Medicine. "But with kids," he continued. "I think there’s a lot of caution, concern." Since early April all Michiganders 16 and older have been able to sign up for a vaccination slot for a dose of Pfizer (Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are still limited to those 18+). But as the sprint to end the pandemic continues, the question of children and immunity has come to the forefront. It is seen as a critical, but also contentious, necessity in the return to "normal. I think I would like to give it to my children," McGrath continued, "it’s just a matter of sort of getting information when it finally gets released, and then you know sorting through it."
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WSU to reduce number of people on campus, citing increased COVID numbers

Wayne State University said Saturday it is planning to reimpose restrictions to reduce the number of people on campus, citing increased coronavirus cases across the state. Starting Wednesday, the following measures will be taken unless case numbers fall within an "acceptable range," according to an email from President M. Roy Wilson to the WSU community. Face-to-face instruction on campus will be canceled with the only exception being clinical rotations in licensed health professions. All athletics practices and competitions will be suspended. Teams may resume practice after 10 days if 80% or more of team personnel have received their full COVID-19 vaccination. Laboratory research units must take steps to reduce current time-on-site activity for authorized personnel by 25% effective Wednesday. They must also prepare a contingency plan for an additional reduction of time-on-site as the situation evolves. The reduced level does not apply to fully vaccinated individuals currently involved with authorized on-site research activities. Guest access to student housing will be restricted. Students currently living in campus housing are permitted to continue doing so and must continue to follow campus health and safety guidelines. Towers Cafe will move to takeout only. Campus libraries will remain open but may be subject to increased restrictions. The Student Center Building is closed except for individuals attending the vaccine clinic. The W Food Pantry will remain open and will facilitate technology loans to students in need. With the exception of critical infrastructure employees, those who can work from home should do so. Metrics on campus, in the region and across Michigan will be reevaluated in 10 days, according to Wilson. If the situation has improved, Wayne State will reinstate the suspended activities. If the numbers still remain high, the period of limited on-campus activities will be extended accordingly, he said. Students and faculty are asked to monitor their communications and check the Wayne State coronavirus website for follow-up information or to contact a supervisor with specific questions.
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America gets a D+ for school infrastructure - but federal COVID relief could pay for many repairs

Many kids are attending public schools this spring with the use of COVID-19 safety protocols, including more desk spacing, more frequent cleaning and mandates to wear masks. But far too many of the school buildings themselves remain dilapidated, toxic and in desperate need of structural improvements. On average, U.S. public schools are more than 50 years old – and by and large they are not being properly maintained, updated or replaced. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s public K-12 infrastructure a D+ in their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the same abysmal grade as in their prior 2017 report. But help may finally be on the way. 
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What you need to know as Michigan enters third wave of COVID-19 pandemic

More of Michigan’s population is getting vaccinated as the rollout picks up steam in Detroit and across the state. Despite this, COVID-19 cases are once again climbing. “There is definitely a perception that we are through the worst of it, and we can let down our guard. I would seriously caution people against that,” says Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor and director of research at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He says the U.K. strain is partly to blame for the spread of COVID-19 cases in Michigan. “This is definitely one reason we’re seeing a surge in cases now.”  This strain of COVID-19 can spread more rapidly and needs fewer virus particles to establish an infection in the body. For this reason, he encourages people to continue to wear a mask, even after vaccination. Mask wearing, Kilgore says, will protect the individual until the vaccination takes full effect and will also protect others who have yet to be vaccinated. Pandemic fatigue has left many eager to resume life as normal, but experts say fully reopening too soon could compromise the progress made against the virus. “There is definitely a perception that we are through the worst of it, and we can let down our guard. I would seriously caution people against that,” says Kilgore.
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Women not getting the healthcare they need during Covid-19, new survey shows

Just as women have borne the brunt of economic damage from the pandemic, a new report makes clear that Covid-19 has also disproportionately taken a toll on women’s health and access to care. According to a national survey, conducted late in 2020 by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), more than one-third (38%) of women had skipped preventive services, such as checkups or routine tests, during the pandemic. Nearly one-quarter (23%) had forgone a recommended test or treatment. In comparison, only 26% and 15% of men had missed preventive or recommended care, respectively. “The fact that women are more likely than men to delay their healthcare services is not surprising, as women have been disproportionately burdened with child and household care, home schooling and, in many cases, an inability to maintain employment due to the many obligations placed upon them,” said Dr. Sonia S. Hassan, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and associate vice president in the Office of Women’s Health at Wayne State University. 
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'Race against the vaccine' as some states see uptick in Covid-19 cases

Covid-19 rates are trending in the wrong direction in several states, including Michigan, which is reporting an uptick in new infections over the last month as other states see new cases plateau, prompting warnings about a possible surge. Health experts say it’s too soon to celebrate victory over the coronavirus pandemic despite an increase in vaccine access and re-openings across the country. Over the past four weeks, confirmed Covid-19 cases have trended upward for much of the state. According to hospitalization data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 74 percent of Michigan's in-patient beds are currently in use, and 72 percent of the beds in intensive care units are filled. The percentage of positive tests has also increased over the last four weeks and is now at 6.2 percent, public health officials said during a Friday news briefing. “We are back to where we were,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, an infectious disease expert and Wayne State University professor. “This is our third surge. It is a cause for concern for all those places where people have let down their guard.”
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Michiganders mental health affected by COVID

The Wayne State University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Sciences has teamed with the State of Michigan to develop a comprehensive behavioral and mental health training and support program for the state’s first responders and their families to address the stress they face in their duties protecting residents. They created a program, Frontline Strong Together, and it will be available electronically and in-person to first responders and their families in nearly all 83 counties this year. The program is being developed and implemented with representatives of the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Department of Corrections, paramedics and dispatchers, according to Wayne State University. David Rosenberg, M.D and the Chair of The WSU hair of the WSU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. “Frontline Strong Together distinguishes Wayne State University in that the research we do is not in some ivory tower. This is right in the trenches with the community, in real time, to develop evidence-based approaches to help as many people as possible,” said Rosenberg.
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Despite COVID spike, Whitmer mulls allowing more fans for Detroit Tigers

Schools have reopened, restaurants are back in business and thousands of baseball fans could soon get to enjoy an annual spring tradition: Detroit Tigers’ Opening Day. One year and a week after Michigan confirmed its first case of COVID-19, a massive vaccination effort is driving the state toward something approaching normal. But health experts warn the promise of herd immunity is still months away. And after a precipitous decline in December, January and February, Michigan is now seeing one of the fastest increases in daily coronavirus cases in the nation. “It’s a very dangerous time, because ... (more) people are vaccinated, but people are letting their guard down and not masking and not social distancing,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, an infectious disease specialist with Wayne Health and Wayne State University. “There is a lot of pandemic fatigue.” 
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Mobile Wayne Health vaccination clinic to take shots to the neighborhoods

There is plenty of excitement from people who are taking advantage of free COVID-19 vaccines offered through Wayne Health from Wayne State University and their mobile medical units. On Monday people pulled up to the New Bethel Baptist Church and they didn't even have to leave the driver's seat to get their first Covid shot. Others will get a chance to get theirs as Wayne Health visits neighborhoods as part of a new pilot program. "This is what is needed for us to get beyond on the pandemic," said Dr. Phillip Levy, Wayne Health. "We have to wear masks we have to continue to social distance. But the more people that can get vaccinated the sooner we can reach herd immunity." For months Wayne State University and its physician group Wayne Health, have taken vehicles across Detroit where they've done Covid tests and other health screenings. Now they are part of a statewide pilot program to make sure everyone has access to the vaccine. Levy, the chief innovation officer, says it's especially important to meet Detroiters where they're at. because while most drove up to Monday's clinic- not everyone has a car. "There's a lot of transportation challenges despite it being 'The Motor City,'" he said. "A lot of people don't have cars and a lot of people can't get ready access to public transportation. And they have to rely on somebody to drive them to existing vaccination sites."
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Mental health is a driving factor in a year of surging attendance at Southeast Michigan parks

While physical activity has long been established as having a positive effect on people with depression, studies have found that effect increases significantly in an outdoor rather than indoor setting. Erika Bocknek is an associate professor of educational psychology at Wayne State University who specializes in child mental health and buffering the impact of stress and trauma on children. Bocknek says one commonly discussed component of mental health is the ability to regulate negative emotions, but it's important to "up-regulate" positive emotions like joy as well. "It's become very clear to me that our outdoor spaces play an extremely vital role in how healthy relationships have a place to do their best work for children and their positive mental health outcomes," she says. "And I think that became especially clear to me during the pandemic, when being outdoors was essentially the only and best option for ensuring that human contact and relationships were thriving." Bocknek says many of the conversations she's had with fellow task members have revolved around the importance of joy during the pandemic's challenges and "how to make our outdoor spaces the stage, so to speak, for joy to do its best work."

Did the NBA get too much credit for its coronavirus response?

Hours before the NBA changed the course of sports history last March—suspending its season and carving a bold new path to combat the coronavirus—the league found itself confronting a different foe: public health officials. Local leaders in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco were urging citizens not to gather in large groups, and pleading with sports teams to shut out fans, to help prevent the virus’ spread. The message was not well received by the NBA franchises operating in those jurisdictions. Fourteen of the NBA’s 30 teams are now allowing fans to attend games again, albeit in limited numbers, and with strict rules on social distancing and mask wearing—and in some arenas, with rapid coronavirus tests required upon entry. Six more teams will begin admitting fans this month. Gretchen Newman, an assistant professor of infectious disease at Wayne State University in Detroit, called the decision to allow fans “profoundly stupid and unnecessary.” “We could just be not doing this and not putting anybody at risk at all, and we would all be fine and go on with our day,” Newman says. “On the other hand, in the background of what is happening nationwide, do I think that this is the biggest threat to people? No, I do not. ... It’s the wrong choice, but it’s a minor wrong choice in comparison to all the other wrong choices that are being made.”
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Craig Fahle Show: WSU psychiatry professor discusses new stress reduction program for first responders and families

The Wayne State University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Sciences has teamed with the state to develop behavioral and mental health training and support for Michigan first responders and their families to address stress from the job. The program, Frontline Strong Together, will be available electronically and in-person to first responders and their families this year in most of Michigan’s 83 counties. The program is being developed and implemented with assistance from the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Department of Corrections, paramedics and dispatchers. Deadline Detroit's Craig Fahle talked about the program with Dr. Alireza Amirsadri, an associate professor of psychiatry at Wayne State.
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Here's what Michigan State, other universities plan for this fall

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson addressed the fall semester during his Feb. 23 address to the community and posted on his Instagram account. Wilson said there is a restart committee that has been meeting regularly and he predicted that classes would also be mostly in-person. "We've been pretty conservative thus far and we've tried to not say things that we have to walk back," Wilson said. "This is a difficult one to really know for sure ... My best guess is that we will be predominantly face to face. It's going to be modified and we will still be social distancing. We probably won't have huge classrooms of 200-300 people. We'll spread out more. I think we'll predominantly face to face." Wilson said he believes that because COVID-19 cases and deaths have plummeted he expects vaccine supply to outpace demand by late April. "I believe most of the classes, or many of the classes, will be face to face," Wilson said. Most Michigan State University students will be returning to in-person classes in the fall and spectators are expected to be in the stands for sporting events, President Samuel Stanley announced Friday. University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said last month that plans for the fall semester are underway and UM officials are monitoring the virus and vaccination efforts nationwide. Ferris State University announced this week it is also planning in-person classes.

Detroit says mostly Black residents are getting vaccinated – probably

As advocates question the number of coronavirus vaccines going to Black and Brown recipients across the country, officials from the City of Detroit say even though the data is incomplete, they are sure that vaccines are predominantly being administered to Black Detroiters. City officials reported Tuesday that 70 percent of its vaccine recipients have voluntarily shared racial demographic data. However, over 26,000 vaccine recipients, or about 30 percent of all vaccine recipients by Tuesday, chose not to share their race, leaving a gap of unknowns of who is receiving the coronavirus vaccine in Detroit. Dr. Herbert Smitherman, vice dean of diversity and community affairs at Wayne State University and president and CEO of Health Centers Detroit Foundation, said it’s important to recognize the cases and death rates out of Detroit compared to the rest of the state when determining how to distribute vaccines. He cited the Dying Before Their Time report and the “longitudinal, historic challenges that African Americans and older African Americans have experienced in the United States.”