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Colleges say they can reopen safely. But will students follow the rules?

Wayne State University is among the campuses that’s proposing to revise its student-conduct code with language about face coverings and social-distancing. If the university's board signs off on the changes during a meeting on Friday, failure to comply with Covid-19 policies would join the university’s list of prohibited conduct. The proposed requirements include completing a daily self-screening for symptoms before coming to campus; following campus-health-center directions when sick; wearing a face covering in public spaces; maintaining six feet of distance from others; and complying with signage in hallways, elevators and stairwells. University officials proposed modifying the code because they wanted to be specific about what’s acceptable, said David Strauss, dean of students. Once a Covid-19 vaccine has been widely distributed and the threat of the virus has disappeared, any added provisions can be removed, he said. Student-affairs leaders acknowledge that enforcement has its place, but looking ahead to the fall, they prefer to focus on student buy-in and community values. At Wayne State, after conduct-code amendments are finalized, Strauss said, he’ll convene a group of student ambassadors who will help promote a campaign on campus expectations. Riya Chhabra, president of Wayne State’s Student Senate, said she’s glad the university has involved students so extensively. Students want to go back to normal and hang out with their friends, said Chhabra, who’s studying public health. If her peers understand that following these rules will allow them to do that sooner, she believes they’ll comply. “We definitely don’t want to have students get in trouble for it,” she said.
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How COVID-19 affects children compared to adults

A new study by Chinese researchers found that COVID-19 pediatric patients had higher incidents of initial symptoms like fever, vomiting, and diarrhea than adult patients and often recovered an average of 3 to 4 days after treatment. Research on COVID-19 pediatric cases is still limited, but this new study offers a fresh perspective on the early diagnosis and epidemic control of COVID-19 in children and could enhance early intervention and diagnosis. The new study highlights the fact that so much about the pathogen underlying the disease remains unknown and there’s so much more to learn, added Dr. Teena Chopra, a professor of infectious diseases at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine. “[What] is interesting is that the children [in the study] did not present with severe disease unlike adults,” she said. “And most of them had mild or moderate symptoms.” Chopra added that the study has lots of implications for authorities pondering decisions such as school reopenings in the fall. Although the sample size is a “small number, it gives us insight into the world of children and helps us understand the impact on a younger age group,” said Chopra who serves on Wayne State’s reopening task force as well as one of a Detroit area school. School officials “should take studies like this into account before opening schools and making decisions about whether it can affect children or not,” she said.
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Detroit activists plan Juneteenth march over disparities in sentencing, lack of jury diversity

Detroit activists are planning a Juneteenth march focusing on justice system reform raising awareness about the lack of representation on the supreme court, racial disparities in sentencing and the lack of diversity in juries in Wayne County. "If you think about injustice in the criminal justice system it goes from root to branch," said Wayne State University Law Professor Peter Hammer. "It is not just police brutality. It is how we define what is criminal, what is not criminal, it is who is sitting in the jury and who is not." Hammer is director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. He says judges Keith and George Crockett, Jr. helped bend the proverbial moral arc towards justice, benefitting not just African-Americans but everyone. "And they would tell you, they would not be the same judges they were if they were not Black men," Hammer said. "And they would not have had the impact that they did, because they took their life experience. They survived discrimination and knew the machinery and the physics of discrimination in this country. And they applied that knowledge on the bench. "If you have a bench full of European-Americans that have all these blinders on, even if they have the best intention and the sincerest beliefs, they are going to get it wrong.”
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Wayne State houses National Police De-Escalation Training Center

Wayne State University Chief of Police Anthony Holt says the National Police De-Escalation Training Center, located on campus, has actually been a long time coming. “This is not a reaction to what happened in Minneapolis,” Holt says. ”This was in the works a year, two years before that.” He adds that while training is a key component in combating police brutality, hiring is another essential part of the equation. “It’s not training alone. I think you have to go back to the very beginning. You have to go back to the hiring process. You have to have the discussion about implicit bias.” In response to the growing calls to defund the police, Holt says it’s time to come to the table and take an in-depth look at how police departments function. He says that especially when it comes to calls involving a mental health crisis, professionals outside the police force could be very helpful. 
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Are we all OCD now, with obsessive hand-washing and technology addiction?

David Rosenberg, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, wrote an article for The Conversation. “One of the hallmarks of obsessive-compulsive disorder is contamination fears and excessive hand-washing. Years ago, a patient with severe OCD came to my office wearing gloves and a mask and refused to sit on any of the “contaminated” chairs. Now, these same behaviors are accepted and even encouraged to keep everyone healthy. This new normal in the face of a deadly pandemic has permeated our culture and will continue to influence it. Many stores now prominently post rules mandating face masks and hand sanitizer use and limit the number of customers allowed inside at one time. Walkers and joggers politely cross the street to avoid proximity to each other. Only a few months ago, this type of behavior would have been considered excessive, irrational, even pathological, and certainly not healthy. So, where do doctors draw the line between vigilance to avoid being infected with the coronavirus and obsessive-compulsive disorder that can be harmful? This is an important question that I, a psychiatrist, and my co-author, a wellness and parenting coach, often hear.”
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Schools eyeing big cuts amid funding crash

School budget makers across Michigan are eyeing cuts to employees, salaries and transportation among other things, as they work through the revenue crash caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The two largest sources of state money to the School Aid Fund, sales and income taxes, have fallen sharply during the shutdown, leaving a budget hole that could reach almost $2.4 billion over the next two years, according to state estimates. Educators are pleading for federal help, but nothing is certain yet, except that state law requires districts to submit adopt a balanced budget by July 1. "I expect layoff notices will be going out to teachers," said Michael Addonizio, a professor of education policy at Wayne State University. "If they're not going out right now, they soon will be in the absence of an aid package. You'd certainly see layoffs of support staff, you are going to lose guidance counselors, librarians, attendance officers, school psychologists. I think it would be unavoidable. Teaching staff reductions would be unavoidable." Addonizio serves on the School Finance Research Collaborative, a task force looking to reform Michigan school funding. He said schools have faced budget struggles before and received federal aid, but this time is different. "The only thing approaching it was the cut the schools took in 2011, when federal emergency aid to the districts expired and the state foundation allowance was cut by $470," Addonizio said. "That was astonishing at the time." Addonizio said he expects Congress to pass something, but in the meantime, districts are preparing for cuts. 

Thoughts on theaters during the pandemic

As the pandemic continues, theaters struggle to stay on board this ever rocking ship. Every week it seems communities change and adjust to the “new normal”. But what are the effects of COVID-19 on theaters? How can an industry and a community entirely driven by large groups of people change to customize themselves to fit into the new social distance mold? As Director of Marketing and Audience Engagement at Wayne State University, Thomas Karr says “Our function is the same, but our tools will be different.” For the Bonstelle and Hilberry theaters, these different tools include live streaming, recording and sharing skits and dances, putting together live, in person outside events in parking lots and on campus, as well as drive-by events. Dance and theater students of Wayne State University have created and led virtual events on Facebook and Youtube. These events have received a far greater number of viewers than events produced within their theaters before the pandemic. This new way of production brings a new hope and excitement to the community that is already so intent on sharing stories and art. Soon to be chairperson of the Department of Theater and Dance at Wayne State University, Mary Anderson says, “They have been so resilient. But at the same time I grieve their losses. This time has been incredibly disruptive and alienating for them.”
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Mapping the road to return

Months after it began, the coronavirus outbreak that swept through Detroit and the rest of the country continues to rage. While there are mixed opinions on how quickly the crisis is actually receding, local leaders have already started to consider how the city begins to bounce back. At Wayne State University, which since March has been holding remote and online classes only (as well as a virtual graduation that was livestreamed), President M. Roy Wilson and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Keith E. Whitfield are among those carefully charting the city’s recovery and weighing the prospects of students’ physical return to campus in the fall. Although their plans are still taking shape, Wilson and Whitfield agreed to sit down for a Q&A for the Michigan Chronicle to discuss how WSU is faring amid the outbreak, the factors driving any potential decision to return to campus and their concerns that the recent unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in combination with relaxed social distancing practices could usher in another spike in COVID-19 infections.
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Opinion: Wayne State University works toward return to campus

Keith Whitfield, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, wrote an opinion piece regarding the return to campus in light of the pandemic. “In the fall, we will offer a mix of in-person, remote and online classes. What proportion of which will be determined by July 15. By then, we should have more information about the progression of the virus, and a determination of which classes would best be held on campus vs done remotely. In the end our decision will be based on science and a full commitment to protecting the health and safety of our campus community. Despite the understandable trepidation you may feel about returning to campus — or even continuing your college education — now.
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Detroit area hospital systems lean against use of hydroxycholoroquine for COVID-19

A quickly retracted study that found a higher death rate among COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine has deepened controversy over the drug worldwide and in Michigan. At least one local health system continues to use the drug while others have abandoned it. Many health care institutions, including the World Health Organization, suspended clinical trials of the drug touted by President Donald Trump after the faulty study was published in the British medical journal The Lancet on May 22. The WHO restarted the trials about a week ago. The observational study of about 96,000 patients hospitalized worldwide with the coronavirus concluded that patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine had a greater chance of death and heart rhythm problems than those who did not receive the drug. The politicization of medical studies was dismissed by Michael Rybak, a professor of pharmacy and medicine at Wayne State University and the primary investigator on a current study that's trying to determine the optimum dose of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients. In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, he said, doctors were grasping at straws, using an unproven treatment without really knowing if it would benefit or harm patients. "The journals have a lot at stake as well," Rybak said, noting that the publications' reputations are based on the quality of the research they publish. "It was important to get the information out as fast as possible to the prescribing clinicians so they know what to do next because there was no information," he said. "(Journals) are trying to get the information out as fast as possible because they know we're at an hour of need." 
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Neighborhood-based friendships making a comeback for kids in the age of coronavirus

Julie Wargo Aikins, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, wrote an article for The Conversation. “As the weather has warmed in my Midwestern town, my neighborhood is full of children on bicycles pretending to be riding through the Wild West. I can’t walk down the sidewalk without stepping on chalk drawings or hopscotch boards. There are children jumping rope and playing ball. In the eight years I’ve lived here, I’ve never witnessed this before. As a clinical psychologist who studies children’s friendships, I am fascinated by this development. Children’s social worlds have been upended by the suspension of school and extracurricular activities due to the pandemic. Many older children and adolescents have been able to maintain their friendships over social media. But, for younger children, this approach is less likely to be available to them and less likely to meet their social needs. In some places, a silver lining of COVID-19 may well be the resurgence of childhood friendships in American neighborhoods.”
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As protective gear becomes a new normal, some call for Michigan health systems to buy domestic

The demand for PPE may surge as such large institutions as Michigan's public universities prepare to resume on-campus, in-person classes in the fall. Wayne State University, for example, has ordered 62,000 reusable face masks from Office Depot in  preparation for the fall semester. The university aims to provide students, staff and faculty with a small supply of PPE, and also is considering installing PPE vending machines on campus, said Ken Doherty, associate vice president for procurement and business services. For now, the university is stocked up on hand sanitizer and dispensers. Doherty and other stakeholders have daily conversations about PPE to work through new issues raised as they contemplate a return to school. One example: how to ensure that hearing-impaired students who rely on lip-reading are not at a disadvantage. "Beyond that, we're pretty darn comfortable with where we're at," he said.
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Community leaders to Detroit CEOs: Commitment to fight racism is a start

When Bertie Greer, an associate dean at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University who studies diversity within companies, tuned into a news conference featuring Mayor Mike Duggan and nine executives of Detroit's largest companies, she was surprised to see just how many business leaders were in attendance, and that their words moved beyond the usual language of diversity being good for their bottom line. Instead, they focused more on their impact on the community. This moment felt different to her. “Prior to this crisis, executives were too afraid to upset the other half, and instead made the economic case for diversity,” Greer said. “There’s a crisis, everyone gets upset, we hire (more diverse employees), and then nothing else is done.”

A degree of uncertainty

In a recent survey of 262 colleges and universities, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that nearly 60 percent are considering or have decided to remain completely online this fall. "The restart is far more complex than the shutdown because there are so many different scenarios," said Michael Wright, vice president of communications and chief of staff at Wayne State University. WSU is trying to plan for a variety of unknowns, Wright said, including having far fewer students returning in the fall or more students than expected showing up. “We know people will be uncomfortable even if the governor says it's OK to open, and we've heard from students who want to get back in the classroom," Wright said. Either way, he said, WSU will be back in business come September. "We're Wayne State Warriors, and we hope to get back on campus." During a recent Zoom luncheon, Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson told students and alumni the school created a restart committee with nine subcommittees that are examining housing, dining services, testing recommendations and more. The university will be designating space in residence halls for students needing quarantine. Understanding the importance of the college experience, Wayne State's plans to welcome incoming freshmen include virtual small groups that allow students to connect before school reopens. "We are going to be guided by what's safe," Wilson said. "I want to be sure I can look any parent in the eye and say, 'Your child will be safe.'"
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Wayne State freezes tuition, warns of budget cuts

Wayne State University’s Board of Governors unanimously agreed Friday to a proposal by President M. Roy Wilson not to increase tuition for undergraduate and graduate students for 2020-21. “It has been a difficult decision for the Board of Governors to freeze tuition for the coming year,” board chair Marilyn Kelly said in a statement. “Two of our most crushing worries have been, first, that in freezing tuition, the board forces the university to confront a budget shortfall of as much as $60 million. Second, we render the university all the more challenged to meet the goals we’ve set of making Wayne University an even better learning center for minorities and the financially underprivileged to gain a quality education." Wilson said there will be some budget cuts, noting that the university relies on tuition as one of its two main funding sources, with the other being state aid. “There will be some financial pain,” he said. “It’s too early to say specifically what the budget deficit will be. There are still too many unknown variables. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last or its impact on enrollment and our state appropriation."
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Academic medical leaders and learners reflect on police brutality, racism, and the path forward

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in recent weeks have exposed deep wounds inflicted by the nation’s long legacy of racism. They have also triggered protests across the country against police brutality and long-standing policies and attitudes that have marginalized Black and other communities of color. The AAMC invited 13 leaders and learners in academic medicine to share their thoughts on the events of the past week, the complicity of medicine in perpetuating inequities, and the role of students, physicians, and academic medical institutions in helping to heal the nation. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, also is a member of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities and former chair of the AAMC Board of Directors. “Here's an astonishing statistic. A Black man today has a 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by law enforcement. That’s 10,000 out of 10 million. The reason I use 10 million is that's the population of Michigan. Michigan had a little over 5,000 deaths from COVID-19, and it has been one of the hardest hit states during the pandemic. But that's still only half the number of Black boys who will die if nothing is done to address this issue of police brutality against Black men. To be honest, as a young man, I probably had a bit of a chip on my shoulder, and any Black man my age has had numerous encounters with law enforcement. So, the fact that I'm here now, I feel like I'm a survivor, because these encounters definitely could have gone in a different direction. [At Wayne State], we just created a National De-escalation Training Center for law enforcement. When the Dallas Police Department, for example, did de-escalation training, they had an 18% decrease in excessive use of force in one year and an 80% decrease over seven years, so that’s hugely positive. I've been looking at these pictures of these protests, and in some cities, there are more White people protesting than Black. This hit a nerve with all kinds of people. They are out there saying they don't want this kind of “justice” anymore, they really want to see a change in this country. That gives me a lot of hope.
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As U.S. protests rage, a tale of 2 leaders: Biden and Trump

The nationwide US protests for racial justice are giving Joe Biden, sidelined for over two months by the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity to reclaim the spotlight and display a contrasting leadership style to that of his November election opponent President Donald Trump. Jeffrey Grynaviski, a political science professor at Wayne State University, said the election is likely to be a "turnout battle" – decided on which party can mobilize more voters. Grynaviski noted that African-Americans turned out in much smaller numbers for Hillary Clinton in 2016 than they did for Obama, and the question is whether they will go to the polls for Biden. "My inclination is to say that Donald Trump's rhetoric over the last week is probably going to promote black support for Biden," he said, although his history with the crime bill works against him. 
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Insomnia, flashbacks hitting Michigan hospital workers as coronavirus ebbs

The novel coronavirus’ grip on Michigan has loosened in recent weeks amid a steady decline in the daily rate of new confirmed infections. On Tuesday, Michigan recorded just 199 new cases. But as front-line workers emerge from months of warlike chaos in their workplaces, mental health experts are already noticing a massive surge in mental health needs among a traumatized workforce. After Wayne State University’s School of Social Work and College of Nursing launched a mental health hotline for traumatized doctors, nurses, and other first responders in the early days of Michigan’s COVID-19 experience, a common theme emerged in the calls, said Suzanne Brown, an associate professor in social work at the school: Front-line workers are suspended in a state of stress that is both “acute and chronic.” Hospital staff and first responders are used to dealing with crises. But typically, they address the immediate need — an emergency surgery, a horrific accident scene — and move on to a new task. But with COVID-19, Brown said, the trauma lingers along with the pandemic. “That sense of not knowing when it’s going to end leaves very little room for people to recover,” she said.
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Doctors heavily overprescribed antibiotics early in the pandemic

The desperately ill patients who deluged the emergency room at Detroit Medical Center in March and April exhibited the telltale symptoms of the coronavirus: high fevers and infection-riddled lungs that left them gasping for air. With few treatment options, doctors turned to a familiar intervention: broad-spectrum antibiotics, the shot-in-the-dark medications often used against bacterial infections that cannot be immediately identified. They knew antibiotics are not effective against viruses, but they were desperate, and they feared the patients could be vulnerable to life-threatening secondary bacterial infections as well. “During the peak surge, our antibiotic use was off the charts,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, the hospital’s director of epidemiology and antibiotic stewardship, who estimated that more than 80 percent of arriving patients were given antimicrobial drugs. “At one point, we were afraid we would run out.” Chopra and other doctors across the country who liberally dispensed antibiotics in the early weeks of the pandemic said they soon realized their mistake. “Many physicians were inappropriately giving antibiotics because, honestly, they had limited choices,” she said. Chopra estimated that up to a third of coronavirus patients who died at the hospital were killed by opportunistic pathogens like C. difficile, a pernicious infection that causes uncontrolled diarrhea and is increasingly resistant to antibiotics. That figure, she said, was quite likely heightened by the poor underlying health of patients who also had diabetes or hypertension or were obese. “Even before Covid hit, our population in Detroit was very vulnerable to drug-resistant infections,” said Chopra, a professor of infectious diseases at Wayne State University.