In the news

News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

In times of crisis, get free mental health sessions from Wayne State

The novel coronavirus pandemic – and subsequent stay-at-home orders — have taught Michiganders how to interact in different ways. For many, the recent protests have only added to anxiety and increased social isolation. To help residents improve their mental health, Wayne State University is offering free online counseling sessions with psychology and counseling students. Lauren Mangus, professor of psychology, oversees the program. She says the world has changed and it can be difficult to adapt to a new way of living. “Life as it once was, it’s completely changed for so many of us. Not to mention the emotional psychological bandwidth that’s being taxed for many of us right now.” On dealing with grief when gatherings were limited: “Grief is really complex. It’s really difficult because it’s a very personalized, individualized process. But it is never completely finalized. But at the same time when we have different ways to celebrate life, and celebrate loved ones, and to get that support can really help us through the grieving process. So that is really complicated.
News outlet logo for favicons/michiganradio.org.png

Wayne State University center to train officers in de-escalation

Wayne State University announced the creation of a National De-escalation Training Center. The headquarters will be on its campus. The Wayne State police department says its officers are already being trained in de-escalation methods. Tony Holt, chief of police for Wayne State University,  says the de-escalation training is different from a one-size-fits-all approach to de-escalation training. “You want to let the person know, now I understand what kind of promise you have, and you can see, individually, what this person is going through, and to help you understand what those next steps are to take,” he says. Holt says officers are trained to break people down into 16 main personality types, each having their own subgroups. Officers are trained to recognize these personality types based on behavior, and can more effectively address the problem. He says it won’t be easy for officers to earn community trust, something he says is understandable since people are rightfully upset about police brutality. “And I think the timing is good because it’s going to cause you to work extra hard to get that buy-in. And this is not an overnight, you’re not going to build trust overnight. The community and the citizens want to see this in action,” says Holt.
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

Trump, the politics of fear and racism: How our brains can be manipulated to tribalism

Arash Javanbakht, associate professor of psychiatry, updated a Jan. 11, 2020 article he wrote for The Conversation about how the human brain can be  manipulated to tribalism during the politics of fear and racism. “Tribalism has become a signature of America within and without since the election of President Trump. The nation has parted ways with international allies, left the rest of the world in their effort to fight the climate change, and most recently the pandemic, by leaving the World Health Organization. Even the pandemic was not a serious issue of importance to our leaders. We did not care much about what was happening in the rest of the world, as opposed to the time of previous pandemics when we were on the ground in those countries helping block the progress so long as it was China’s or the European Union’s problem. This marks drastic change from previous U.S. altruistic attitude, including during the World War II.” Javanbakht continued: “The irony of evolution is that while those attached to tribal ideologies of racism and nationalism perceive themselves as superior to others, in reality they are acting on a more primitive, less evolved and more animal level.”
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

Opinion | George Floyd's killing, unrest a result of structural racism

John Mogk, professor of law specializing in urban law and policy, wrote an opinion piece about structural racism. “The wanton killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the civil disturbances following were a predictable repetition of Detroit's rebellion in 1967 when the largest civil disturbance in American history was triggered by the abuse of African Americans by a police force that mostly was all-white. The Michigan National Guard and 82nd and 101st  Airborne Divisions of the U.S. Army were required to regain control of the city. Forty-three people died and hundreds of millions in today's dollars in property damages was caused  Notwithstanding the magnitude of the rebellion, the abject discrimination revealed a need for federal intervention as the country failed to learn a lesson. The root of the problem then, as it is now, is structural racism, and white police officer abuse of African Americans is merely one stark manifestation of it. Structural racism has its origin in slavery and fosters public policies, institutional practices and cultural representations that work to reinforce racial inequality for African Americans. Too many white police officers view African Americans with suspicion, interpret their actions as threatening and are quick to disregard their human rights.”
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

Wayne State Library launches virtual series about using census data

The Wayne State Library System is launching a virtual series to teach people about the value of Census data. “A lot of people know that they can take the Census,” says Meghan Courtney, outreach archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs. “But we want to take it a step further and let people know that there are many ways that this data is actually useful for them in their lives.” The free series kicks off on Zoom on Wednesday June 3 at 4 p.m. with a talk called “Why the Census?” Librarians will explain how the Census impacts public funding and show attendees how they can access Census data. The second talk in the series, “Mapping and the Census,” is happening Friday, June 17 at 10 a.m. All sessions will be recorded for people who can’t attend and want to view at a later date. “Getting the Census done is a community effort,” says Courtney. “And it’s something that will affect not only Wayne State’s campus area but the whole region in a huge way.”
News outlet logo for favicons/cbslocal.com.png

Michigan Matters: Young folks weigh in on pandemic

As COVID-19  takes its toll on our region and causes more damage than any other crisis in 100 years, young adults are being impacted as their families, communities, schools and the potential job market have all changed overnight. Four impressive young people, including Wayne State University student Anna Cloutier, who is planning a career in communications, appeared on Michigan Matters to talk about the crisis and how it has impacted them and their generation.
News outlet logo for favicons/educationdive.com.png

Colleges take graduations online: 'All we're doing is a placeholder'

Newly minted doctors taking oaths over Zoom. College presidents giving speeches from home. Students creating entire commencements inside computer games. Graduation has taken on a new form during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone, for now, are stadiums filled with cheers, instead replaced with teleconferences and smaller tributes to the class of 2020. Some schools have managed to hold in-person ceremonies, with students spaced six feet apart or staying in their cars. Yet most colleges have had to decide whether to reschedule ceremonies, conduct them virtually, or do both. Similarly strong interest in Wayne State University's virtual graduation offerings surprised Carolyn Berry, its associate vice president of marketing. The public institution, in Michigan, created a short video congratulating students that its schools and colleges could add onto with their own presentations. A 16-minute video of Wayne State's nursing convocation — which graduated about 130 students — got more than 1,000 views. All told, the videos have received more than 8,000 views, according to university data. Wayne State's videos featured pre-recorded speeches from administrators and also included a tribute to three students who were awarded posthumous degrees, including sociology student Darrin Adams, who died of COVID-19 in April. Despite
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

Retail workers without masks may be breaking the law

If you’ve ventured out into the world lately, you might be noticing a troubling trend — retail workers not wearing masks. This practice might make you uncomfortable as a customer, but is it illegal? And what’s required of local businesses as Michigan’s economy reopens anyway? Beyond what’s written in the law and the guidance, there’s also what’s best for business. “People really have to exercise a good deal of common sense, stay informed, and make things available to their employees, particularly if they asked to be protected and to wear a face mask,” says Marick Masters, a business professor and interim chair of the Department of Finance at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business. “If you have the potential to interact with a customer, you are probably best inclined to wear a face mask. I think that trust is absolutely critical, particularly if you’re trying to restart your business and want people to feel comfortable coming back in,” Masters says. ”There are going to be people that are going to be hesitant to come back in if word-of-mouth comes out that people don’t have face masks or they seem casual about it. I think that you are better off from both a legal standpoint and a trust standpoint, and going the extra mile and trying to reassure people, that you’re doing everything humanly possible to protect the safety of your employees and your customers.” 
News outlet logo for favicons/dbusiness.com.png

Wayne State University publishes new findings of potentially deadly bacterial infection linked to COVID-19 in older patients

A doctor at Detroit’s Wayne State University School of Medicine has published new findings of a trend in older patients who are severely ill with COVID-19 and also test positive for Clostridioides difficile — a bacteria sometimes referred to C. diff or CDI. The CDI bacteria causes life-threatening diarrhea and is usually a side effect of taking antibiotics, according to the CDC. Wayne State’s observations offer the inaugural CDC journal report of CDI infections in COVID-19 patients. “This is the first report highlighting COVID-19 patients who presented with diarrhea and were found to have both C. diff and diarrhea as a co-infection,” says Dr. Teena Chopra, who is also a professor of infectious diseases at the WSU School of Medicine and corporate medical director of infection prevention hospital epidemiology and antibiotic stewardship at WSU and the Detroit Medical Center. “Most of these patients were very sick and had a higher mortality. COVID-19 can present as diarrhea, and a lot of these patients are getting unnecessary antibiotics. We always think of C. diff when we have patients who have diarrhea, and now we have to think of COVID-19 in these patients, too.”
News outlet logo for favicons/dbusiness.com.png

Wayne State launches virtual health programming

The Wayne State University Campus Health Center (CHC) has started a “Health Programming Gone Virtual” initiative to create new ways to reach the WSU community. Instead of attending wellness events on campus, Wayne State students, faculty, and staff can access health resources and information from the comfort of their homes. “While we miss having the face-to-face engagement with students and our WSU community, we are making our programming available online and in different formats to best serve the changing needs of our campus,” says Erika Blaskay, community outreach nurse at WSU. Currently, all health care resources are available via PowerPoint presentation and handouts on CHC’s Health Programming webpage. Some programs now feature recorded webinars to provide in-depth learning about these important health topics. CHC also launched an “Ask-an-Expert” engagement form that allows the Wayne State community to ask specific questions anonymously. A qualified health care provider will respond on CHC’s social media platforms the Wednesday following the form’s submission. The goal is to create a fun way to engage with each other and the CHC in a virtual environment, but Blaskay says it is important to remember that these tools are meant to help guide conversations with health care providers, not replace them.
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

Michigan colleges make changes to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t move in

Michigan colleges and universities are preparing numerous scenarios to educate students in the fall during a time of unpredictability. There's limited testing as well as no vaccine for the coronavirus. The planning comes as higher education institutions also are grappling with gaping holes in their budgets as a result of a slowing economy. Already, some at universities have lost their jobs. It also comes as opinion differs as to how colleges should continue in their missions: face-to-face with safety measures or online courses only? At Wayne State University, the campus might look more different. Two WSU students succumbed to the novel coronavirus and the campus is located in Detroit, the state's epicenter for the virus. Though a final decision hasn't been made, WSU President M. Roy Wilson recently said he didn't know how the campus could open in the fall, though it is preparing for all scenarios. Wilson noted last week during a virtual town hall meeting that there is still a lot of time before the fall semester begins. "We don't have all the answers to that yet," Wilson said. "When you really think about it, that's three months away. I always try to remind people that three months ago, it was a very different situation here." A lot can change in three months, Wilson said. "We really want to be guided by the science, guided by the public health realities at that time," he said.
News outlet logo for favicons/insidehighered.com.png

A bleak picture for international enrollment

As colleges try to plan their fall operations and shape their classes, they face a big question that will largely be answered by forces outside their control: If they do resume in-person classes, will international students be able to join them? The global pandemic is causing widespread uncertainty: routine visa processing is suspended at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. International travel restrictions are in place in many countries. Commercial flight options are limited at best. College administrators say they have little choice but to plan for sizable declines in international students and the tuition revenue they bring. “It’s going to be predicated on two things -- first what we do here on campus, face-to-face versus remote and online, but also the more important part is what’s happening outside of the U.S. with consulates reopening and students being able to get access to visa appointments and being able to make it to the U.S. once things open up,” said Ahmad M. Ezzeddine, associate vice president for educational outreach and international programs and senior associate to the president for special initiatives at Wayne State University. “From everything that we’re seeing, the likelihood of having new international students physically here in August and September, I don’t see how that is possible.”
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

Wayne State developing plans, protocols to reopen

Wayne State University officials said Thursday they are deep into planning for reopening the campus, possibly when a state of emergency order ends May 28, and with medical, public health advice and government guidelines in mind. The officials said the situation is subject to change, and they are remaining vigilant and active. They'll follow the governor's lead: If the state of emergency declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ends May 28, the campus will reopen, officials said. Some general guidelines are already clear, President M. Roy Wilson said during a video conference viewed and heard by a few thousand people. People will be asked to continue to work from home, if they can, Wilson said. Remaining to oneself and at a safe distance will continue as primary concerns. “We have an open campus,” he said. “It's very important that we make sure that everybody follows the guidelines to protect everyone else. “It's not just a nuisance. This is, you know, peoples’ lives at stake.”

Together Detroit: Companies extend a helping hand

While everyone is under stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there's no question that first responders and front-line workers are among those most affected. To that end, the Wayne State University School of Social Work and the College of Nursing, in collaboration with other Wayne State departments, have launched a crisis hotline for those first responders and health care professionals working on the front lines to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak. The crisis hotline will be staffed six days a week by professionally licensed social workers, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners and psychologists. They will offer critical emotional support for health professionals and law enforcement personnel working under extremely stressful conditions. "The motivating premise behind this collaboration is simple: We all need to contribute what support we can to those who occupy the front lines of this battle," Sheryl Kubiak, dean of the School of Social Work, said in a statement. "Considering the unique nature of this pandemic, we have to do everything we can to take care of them so that they can continue trying to save lives."
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

In the coronavirus era, death is difficult. But so is being a mourner

These days, the sick go to the hospital alone — family isn't allowed inside because of the contagious nature of the coronavirus — and many end up dying alone without so much as a comforting word or caress from those who love them most. Family members and friends, devastated at the suddenness of it all feel guilty for not being there, for not helping with their loved one's transition. Funerals are spare, socially distanced occasions. Visitations are minimal; no more than 10 masked people in a room at a time, though many funeral homes offer live-streaming. There's no hugging or holding hands, no reassuring touch to soothe the grieving and remind them that even though they may feel alone, they are not. Large religious services are forbidden. There are no graveside vigils. No repast luncheons. Those familiar rites and traditions, those services "help us all kind of acknowledge the loss and kind of come to understand this loss is profound and permanent," said Peter Lichtenberg, a Wayne State University psychology professor who serves as director of the school's Institute of Gerontology. "When people aren't able to adjust to the environment in which the deceased is missing after a period of time, and the grief is as fresh as it was, it can be very difficult," Lichtenberg said. "People really start to have, not just the grief, but they have deeper depression and deeper traumatic reactions, almost like post-traumatic stress."
News outlet logo for favicons/wxyz.com.png

Preparing for an uncertain job market

It's a tough time to be entering the job market, as Michigan faces historic jobless numbers, along with the rest of the country. “A lot of students’ job offers have been postponed or rescinded. In some cases with the internships, some of them have been converted from paid to unpaid," said Wayne State's Student Employment Coordinator Arlinda Pringle. She said students and recent grads alike need to prepare for a different kind of job search right now -- one that's going to take longer. “You may have to volunteer if it’s an option. You may have to start off with a part-time job. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting a foot in the door," she said. Pringle also advises students to regularly update their resumes, and cast a wider job net by applying to any job they could be qualified for, not just their dream job. She said networking is more important than ever and students need to treat a virtual interview just like an in-person one in terms of how they dress and conduct themselves.
News outlet logo for favicons/msn.com.png

Our college presidents face unprecedented challenges

There's the same vibe every August at college campuses across the country. Young adults, filled with unwavering excitement about their futures, unpacking their belongings with the help of family and friends into dorms and apartments, ready to begin (or continue) their higher education journeys. But that was then, and this is now. Across America, college presidents and chancellors are faced with undoubtedly the biggest challenge of their careers: not just educating the children they become (in a very real sense) custodians of, but now, keeping them physically healthy and safe in a country ravaged by COVID-19, the biggest public health crisis of our lives. In Michigan, the Big Three research universities — Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — are led by medical doctors (Samuel Stanley, Mark Schlissel and M. Roy Wilson, respectively). And at Oakland University, President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, a pediatrician, served as executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO of U-M’s Health system earlier in her career. Stanley and Wilson — both epidemiologists — attended Harvard’s medical school at the same time (this week was to be their 40th reunion). Wilson, who estimates WSU has lost about $10 million so far and projects losses could grow to $50 million, said not having a hospital has been a silver lining. “There have been times we wished we had a hospital,” said Wilson. “This is one of the times we’re glad we don’t. We have partnerships but we aren’t financially responsible for those hospitals.” The COVID-19 crisis and its extraordinarily debilitating impact won’t be here forever. Nor will this way of life continue for all of us forever. As for Schlissel, Stanley, Pescovitz and Wilson they remain determined that when it ends, students will once again enjoy the benefit of a full experience on their campuses.

People are being tested post-mortem for coronavirus, but death count may be underestimated

Health officials say they're ramping up testing for COVID-19, leading to a clearer picture of the disease's spread. But, absent more robust testing of both the living and the dead, experts warn the true death toll has been underestimated. The CDC hasn't advised widespread post-mortem testing but urges medical examiners to "use professional judgement to determine if a decedent had signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 during life and whether post-mortem testing is necessary." From a public health perspective, post-mortem testing could lead to a better understanding of the disease's fatality rate — a key data point as leaders weigh whether to re-open sections of the economy. The deaths of the elderly and infirm might be chalked up to factors other than coronavirus, Kilgore said, adding that it's unclear how many COVID-19 deaths in Michigan are going uncounted. "We need a study done to look at out-of-hospital deaths," Kilgore said. "The in-hospital deaths are mostly going to be captured."