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Opinion | How Michigan universities are collaborating to continue K-12 learning

Anita G. Welch, Wayne State University College of Education dean, cowrote an opinion piece with Robert Floden, Michigan State University College of Education dean and Elizabeth Birr Moje, University of Michigan College of Education dean. "In Michigan and throughout the country, COVID-19 and the school closings that have resulted to help contain the virus have left parents and educators scrambling to help children learn from home. Our university students who were student teaching now are unable to be in the classroom, and our research and outreach to school districts around the state in many cases have been curtailed. But here at the Michigan State University College of Education, the University of Michigan School of Education and the Wayne State University College of Education, we still know how to help children succeed. Our educators and researchers are redoubling our efforts to assist school districts, parents and children deal with the challenges posed to education during a global pandemic.” “One example is Wayne State University’s #HealthyKidsQuarantined website, which provides activities, resources and fun challenges through weekly calendars for elementary and middle school children.
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WSU Launches Four Engineering Programs, Offers Free Mental Health Assistance to First Responders

Detroit’s Wayne State University College of Engineering is launching four academic programs in time for the fall semester: Bachelor of Science in information technology; Bachelor of Science in welding and metallurgical engineering technology; Master of Science in robotics; and Master of Science in environmental and sustainability engineering. For the bachelor’s in information technology, WSU is realigning curricula that was split between three programs in the College of Engineering and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the latter previously offered Bachelor of Arts in computer science and information systems technology. The new streamlined program housed within the College of Engineering’s department of computer science will offer an updated and improved degree to more than 900 students with majors across the three programs. “Adding these programs allows us to diversify our curricula and remain on the forefront of industrial and societal trends,” says Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering. “Students at Wayne State will greatly benefit from new educational and research opportunities that will ensure relevancy of their skills when they graduate.”
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What the coronavirus crisis reveals about vulnerable populations behind bars and on the streets

Stephanie Hartwell, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean, Sheryl Kubiak, School of Social Work dean, and Ijeoma Nnodim-Opara, assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, wrote an article for The Conversation about how COVID-19 has disproportionately hit lower-income areas and communities of color. “Nowhere is this discrepancy more evident than in prisons, jails and homeless shelters – made up disproportionately of poorer, black and Latino men and women. Here, COVID-19 cases have mushroomed due to dormitory-style living conditions and the inability of people, often with underlying health issues, to practice social distancing. As the virus rages on, comprehensive COVID-19 testing for these populations remains elusive. As experts on jails, health disparities and how to help former prisoners reintegrate into society, we believe that missteps in how we transition incarcerated individuals back to the community would only put this vulnerable populace at greater risk of getting and transmitting COVID-19.”
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Wayne State study offers guide to reopening businesses safely

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has introduced a 6-step plan to re-start businesses that have been shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. It aims to balance the desire to revive the economy against the need to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19. A new study says states can do both if they prioritize industries where workers can keep their distance from each other or work remotely. Wayne State University researchers Shooshan Danagoulian, Zhe Zhu and Philip D. Levy wrote the report. Danagoulian, an assistant professor of economics, says professional services such as accounting are best-suited to resume safe operation. “Accountants work in separate offices, which precludes the spread of the virus, but they can also do their work from home fairly effectively,” Danagoulian says. By contrast, factory workers can’t do their jobs from home. But manufacturers can take steps to help workers maintain their distance. “We suggest giving priority to industries where — if people can’t work from home — they can operate effectively while minimizing the spread of the virus,” Danagoulian says. “It would provide a bigger boost to the economy should production resume in those industries.”
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Walter Reuther's family says of the UAW icon: 'He never sold out.'

Walter Reuther is known as the man who gave birth to the UAW, helped create the middle class and fought for civil rights. He introduced the notion of profit-sharing to factory workers and he was a noted civil rights leader, even standing alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during the famous 1963 "I have a dream" speech in Washington, D.C. "He's no doubt iconic," said Marick Masters, a professor at Wayne State University who specializes in labor. "He provided progressive leadership that showed the union not only as a bargaining organization, but a leader of social change too." Right up to his death, Reuther was critical of the AFL-CIO for not organizing minorities and workers in the South, Masters said. At the time that Reuther passed away, the union was at the height of its power, Masters said. But there were the early signs of challenges. "You saw the very beginnings of foreign auto companies, they were gaining some traction and he saw that as a call for alarm," Masters said. "I think if he'd have been alive, the way the unions and the companies responded to that threat would have been different."
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Why Gov. Whitmer is likely to win the GOP lawsuit over her emergency powers

The lawsuit Republican lawmakers filed Wednesday over Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's use of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic appears to be a loser, according to three Michigan law professors. The lawsuit argues that Whitmer's emergency orders, including the stay-at-home order that runs through May 28, should be declared invalid because of lack of statutory authority. The suit argues one law Whitmer relies on applies only to local emergencies, rather than a statewide emergency, and the other one requires legislative approval — which Whitmer does not have — when it extends beyond 28 days. "Courts have routinely upheld very broad and vague delegations of power from the Legislature to the executive. I don't think that the Emergency Powers of Governor Act or the governor's interpretation of it violate any constitutional limits on delegation," said Lance Gable, associate professor at Wayne State University Law School who specializes in public health law. Gable said although the two emergency statutes give the governor broad powers to work autonomously, it will become increasingly important as the public health crisis continues for the executive and legislative branches to work cooperatively. Doing so will allow Michigan to ramp up testing and contact tracing and eventually impose much more targeted and intermittent orders that will allow many Michiganders to return to work, Gable said.
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To protect crime victims, support jail reform | Opinion

Sheryl Kubiak, School of Social Work dean, wrote an op-ed supporting jail reform. “Before the Michigan Jails Task Force released its report earlier this year, it wasn’t well known that tens of thousands of people were jailed in our state for driving on a suspended license or for unpaid tickets, fees, and child support. It wasn’t well known that rural counties in our state were outpacing Wayne and Kent Counties in jail population and seeing extremely high rates of serious mental illness among those jailed. Somewhere along the way, as Michigan’s jails tripled in size, their purpose got muddled. They became a tool for debt collection. A tool for responding to homelessness, mental illness, and addiction. To address this problem, we have to sharpen our focus on public safety. At each point in our justice system — from issuing warrants, to making arrests, to deciding who should be released pending trial, and how those found guilty should be punished — our laws should focus police, judges, and other decision-makers on immediate safety threats rather than money, addiction, and nuisances.”
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Opinion | Lessons from India help us fight coronavirus in Detroit, Seattle

Dr. Teena Chopra, professor of infectious diseases at Wayne State University and in charge of infection control at Detroit Medical Center, and Dr. Anita Chopra, board-certified in internal medicine and sees patients at the University of Washington Neighborhood Shoreline Clinic in Seattle, wrote an op-ed for Bridge. “As front-line medical workers, our battle with COVID-19 is personal. We are physicians and sisters, waging war against an enemy that caught us defenseless. As we helped our communities plan for battle in two U.S. hotspots, we’ve drawn strength from reminiscences of our childhoods. We are inspiring each other to relentlessly protect the well-being of our patients and communities. One in Seattle, which saw the first COVID-19 case in the United States in a situation that escalated quickly, and the other in Detroit, which has faced a tsunami of cases and become one of the nation’s epicenters.”
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WSU researchers study industry characteristics to guide openings in face of COVID-19

Researchers at Wayne State University have completed an analysis that studied specific industry characteristics to guide industry openings in a way that lowers contagion risks and maximizes economic benefits until broader COVID-19 testing becomes available and immunity testing becomes efficient and reliable enough. “With protective gear and testing still in limited supply, there is a need to find the safest way to open and operate businesses to avoid a resurgence of the virus,” says Dr. Phillip Levy, professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president for translational science and clinical research innovation at WSU, and chief innovation officer for the WSU Physician Group. “It is critical that we look at alternatives to lower contagion risks and maximize economic benefits. Using specific industry characteristics to guide industries in their reopening efforts will be key to lowering the further spread of the virus.” Shooshan Danagoulian, assistant professor of economics, led the research. Levy and Zhe Zhu, assistant professor of economics, also worked on it. The scope for physical distancing and remote work will vary by industry and region. The team focused on Michigan and metro Detroit.
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Michigan got a crash course in treating COVID. Here's what doctors learned

Just when you think you understand COVID, it changes. It's a very deceptive virus; to keep up with it, it is a challenge,” says Dr. Teena Chopra, corporate medical director for Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control at Detroit Medical Center and a Wayne State University professor. “And particularly, it is manifesting differently by age, by race, by sex. Very early on, we were able to understand that, particularly in the city of Detroit.” One set of her COVID patients, especially the younger ones, are developing pulmonary embolisms – blood clots that get stuck in the lungs and can be deadly. “They are manifesting as sudden onset shortness of breath,” Dr. Chopra says. “And some of them are showing higher mortalities than others.”  Meanwhile, patients coming from nursing homes (a big part of DMC’s patient population) may not even appear to have COVID during a first examination, says Dr. Chopra. They may not have a fever or chills. “These older patients do not have the same symptoms,” she says. “They don't mount up the same immune response.” Yet many of them are testing positive for the virus. “We are beginning to test every patient coming from a nursing home, whether they have symptoms or not, because we want to assume they have it.”
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M. Roy Wilson: Lessons from Detroit on racial disparity and St. Louis coronavirus deaths

President M. Roy Wilson wrote an opinion piece about the coronavirus disproportionately killing African Americans. “As of Tuesday, there were 3,407 coronavirus-related deaths in Michigan, with 1,622 in one county alone. That county, Wayne County, is home to Detroit, a city populated 80% by African Americans. By comparison, St. Louis city and county account for 175 of Missouri’s 274 deaths. African Americans are disproportionately represented among the victims. Fortunately, both the number of new cases and hospitalizations have reached their peaks in Detroit, and we are now on the downward side of the curve. Yet, few in Detroit have not been personally impacted by the tragic toll of death among friends and family. I believe that there are lessons to be learned from Detroit’s experience that can help mitigate the death toll in St. Louis’ African American community.”
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3 Wayne State students to receive posthumous degrees at virtual graduation event

Wayne State University held its first-ever virtual graduation ceremony on Wednesday to honor its spring 2020 graduates under the social distancing guidelines of the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual ceremony consists of digital commencements for each school or college available online for graduates, family and friends to help mark the occasion. According to the university, there are still plans to hold an in-person ceremony once restrictions are rolled back for public gatherings. President M. Roy Wilson opens up each of the ceremonies by stating, "I know this isn't what you hoped for as you worked towards this day, I didn't expect it either but I guarantee we will remember this for the rest of our lives." Wilson is then joined by messages from the provost and Board of Governors. The ceremonies conclude with speeches from each respective dean, their chosen student speakers and, of course, the conferring of degrees. The university presented three posthumous degrees to students Darrin Adams, Bri’Jon Moore and Dwayne Carrero-Berry. Although students are not together, the university encourages graduates to celebrate the day online by using #MyWSUstory to post photos and memories of their journey at Wayne State. The 2020 celebration website states: "We encourage all graduates to make this celebration their own, whether you want to watch the videos by yourself or coordinate your viewing with family and friends. "
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Man, 53, who died of COVID-19 before graduation gets posthumous degree from WSU

Colleges and universities are turning to virtual commencement ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this semester Wayne State University is also paying special tribute to three students who died before graduation. Darrin Adams, Dwayne Carrero-Berry and Bri'Jon Moore received degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and were acknowledged during the university's virtual graduation celebration on Wednesday. Adams was 53 when he died from COVID-19 earlier this month. Adams was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. While he studied he worked as a Wayne State custodian for nearly six years. Adams also participated in the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program and helped board up more than 200 abandoned houses. He leaves behind a son and daughter. Wayne State says the virtual ceremony won't take the place of the in-person commencement, details on which are still being worked out. 
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Wayne State University grants posthumous degree to student who died from COVID-19

Wayne State University granted degrees to a student who died from coronavirus (COVID-19) before he was able to finish his schooling. Darrin Adams was one of three students at the university who recently died. The two others died of other causes while Adams’ death was due to COVID-19. The board took special action to honor all three students who died before graduation. They invited their families to the university’s virtual graduation celebration. "Where there was a real good guy, you know, my best friend. And he inspired me to change my life and go to school,” said Adams’ cousin, James Brown. He said his cousin recommended he finish school and so he did. “Never have I’ve never thought about going to college, but my cousin inspired me to go,” Brown said. “He had changed his life and went to school. You know he had some challenges early on in life. We all did but he overcame.” Brown said Adams had an impressive resume. He was a member of the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program, and he was also finishing his bachelor degree in sociology. In addition to being a student, he worked for Wayne State University as a custodian for nearly six years. The faculty in Wayne State Department of Sociology unanimously voted to create an $1,000 annual scholarship in honor of Adams.
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'The unknowns' haunt college students, university officials alike

From an abrupt halt to the school year to dried up revenue streams to unprecedented campus safety and culture changes, discussions among the college community have been far, deep and wide. Many surveys have projected a significant number of students may take next year off. A national survey by Simpson Scarborough of 573 high school students who had been planning to attend a four-year residential college in the fall showed that more than half of their families’ finances had been affected by the pandemic. University officials also face uncertainty about how many current students will return this fall. WSU President M. Roy Wilson said as much as he would like students to return, it was "unlikely" they would be back on campus in the fall. The biggest issues for the state, and its universities, are balancing the challenge of testing for the virus without a vaccine and the need to get the economy running again safely, Wilson said during the virtual town hall. "This is a data-based project," he said. "Based on the data, we have divided industries up into low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk. Based on the risk categories, we are looking at how things can be opened up in a safe way."
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COVID-19 testing for anyone draws a crowd in hard-hit Detroit

Detroit residents waited for hours on Tuesday to get free COVID-19 tests at a new facility that for the first time offered testing to people who did not already have symptoms of the disease and a doctor's authorization for the test. Tuesday's tests were the start of a free program for Detroit residents, said Dr. Phillip Levy, professor of emergency medicine at Wayne State University. Even those without symptoms can get tested with a nasal swab for the virus as well as have their blood drawn to test for antibodies. "Detroit is one of the hardest hit areas in the country. It's got some of the highest case loads, some of the highest death rates, so it's really important that we get testing out into the community," Levy said in a telephone interview. "If you're thinking about restarting the economy, it's important to know you are not acutely infectious and you have evidence of immunity," he added. Michigan has been one of the worst hit states, but officials have said the infection rate is dropping. As of Monday, Michigan had reported more than 38,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,407 deaths. Detroit made up the largest portion of those with almost 8,700 cases and 950 deaths. The Wayne State program expects to test as many as 400 people on Tuesday and hopes to do the same every day for the next six to eight weeks, working closely with Michigan as it ramps up its own testing efforts, Levy said. In the Detroit program, the tests are administered by Garcia Laboratories using Abbott Laboratories instruments, Levy said.
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'Crash course': Med students in Detroit help test for virus

City employees make critical visits to the Detroit health department for a coronavirus test. On the other side of the long cotton swab: medical students in protective gear who have volunteered to be on the front line of the fight. “We’ll just go in about an inch, swirl around a couple times,” Michael Moentmann calmly explained before swabbing the nostril of water department employee Leon Wheeler. Moentmann, 23, had planned to watch surgeries as a medical student at Wayne State University in Detroit, but then a highly contagious virus disrupted everything this spring. So he signed up in one of America's hardest-hit communities, testing police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and others who keep the city running. “What better way to launch a medical career than helping with a pandemic? We couldn't do this without them," said John Zervos of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, who recruited roughly 80 students from medical schools at Wayne State, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Lucia Luna-Wong, a fourth-year student at Wayne State, said she didn't hesitate when offered a chance to join a “crash course in public health.” She wants to specialize in infectious diseases. “This is so valuable, from bedside manners to learning about health disparities in the city. This is just an unbelievable experience for me. I'm going to be a better doctor,” said Luna-Wong, 38, a native of Peru.
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Gov. Whitmer urged coronavirus tests for all key workers

Safely reopening Michigan’s economy requires widespread coronavirus testing, which is why Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is pushing for expanded testing and, recently, urged the state’s essential workers to get tested regardless of whether they have symptoms. But if you’re among the 49 percent of the state’s workforce that counts as an essential worker, don’t bank on getting one. Seven of 12 large Michigan health systems queried by Bridge Magazine said they are not yet testing asymptomatic essential workers, largely because they still lack enough supplies — particularly the nasal swabs used to collect samples — to expand beyond testing people who show symptoms such as coughing, fever or respiratory distress.  “We would like to test asymptomatic employees, but it’s not something that currently we are able to do,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, a professor of infectious disease at Wayne State University, who is also in charge of infection control for the Detroit Medical Center’s eight hospitals. “We need swabs, we need reagents, and we need the testing kits that we use to process the samples.” DMC is testing some asymptomatic employees who have had direct contact with COVID-19 patients, and some high-risk asymptomatic patients, such as those being treated for cancer who come in for procedures like bone marrow biopsies. With more  supplies, Chopra said, “the sky is the limit” in how many people the Detroit-based health system would like to test. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is “right in making the statement that asymptomatic essential workers should get tested, she’s absolutely right,” DMC’s Chopra said.

Wayne State University adds new Endowed Chair in Addiction and Pain Biology

Nationally-recognized substance use disorder researcher Mark Greenwald, Ph.D., has been appointed as the inaugural Gertrude Levin Endowed Chair in Addiction and Pain Biology for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Greenwald, a Canton, Mich., resident, is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in the School of Medicine. “The honor of the Gertrude Levin Endowed Chair in Addiction and Pain Biology is deeply meaningful to me,” he said. “This extremely generous gift recognizes and endorses a synthesis of two critically important areas of public health – substance use disorders and pain. Taken together, these two disease domains account for more than $1 trillion in annual costs to the U.S. economy.” Endowed funds support the ongoing investigation of solutions to the most complex problems in health care, and enable the WSU School of Medicine to strengthen its mission-driven work to provide high-quality education, deliver exceptional clinical care and pursue pioneering research investigations. The World Health Organization recognizes that substance use disorders, or SUDs, cause significant global burdens, associated with more years of life lost, known as premature mortality, and chronic pain primarily associated with more years lived with disability. The Levin Chair serves as an example of the power of endowment at the School of Medicine. By providing specially-designated resources for research and teaching, endowed positions enable gifted faculty and researchers to excel. Chaired faculty leave an indelible mark on the intellectual and creative life of the entire university. “The past few years have seen unprecedented overdoses and deaths from opioids in the United States and internationally, and these adverse outcomes overlap closely with pain problems and mental health issues,” Greenwald said. “Not to minimize in any way the horrible toll of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has tragically taken about 60,000 U.S. lives as of today, but since 2016 we have been losing more than 60,000 U.S. lives each year to drug overdose deaths, and the majority are opioid-related. We have a considerable amount to learn about the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie substance use disorders and pain individually, and how they interact to produce the vexing problems that clinicians routinely face. Unfortunately, we also lack safe and effective therapies for many individual substance use disorders and pain conditions.” The Levin Chair will support ambitious short- and long-term plans and actions. Greenwald is planning a comprehensive initiative, nested within the new Translational Neuroscience Institute at WSU. The initiative will encompass a full translational cycle of research, education and clinical care activities founded on existing and emerging collaborations across the campus and community, and across institutions, using a four-quadrant approach. “Fully leveraging the Gertrude Levin Endowed Chair will create change for those suffering from chronic pain and addiction. With research efforts dedicated to cross-disciplinary solutions and treatments for chronic pain conditions, we can positively impact the nation’s opioid addiction crisis,” said Stephen Henrie, associate vice president of Development and Alumni Affairs for the School of Medicine. “The Levin Chair is an integral part of our multi-disciplinary initiatives in brain health, translational research and neuropsychological care. Cross-cutting programmatic interests in the neurosciences, chronic pain, prescription drug misuse, and integrated behavioral healthcare will maintain synergy with existing faculty expertise and activities,” he added. Research and training activities in the basic and clinical neuroscience quadrant will include pharmaceutical development and PK/PD evaluation, genetics/epigenetics, brain imaging and neuromodulation, as well as complementary/alternative therapies. “We already have ongoing projects in these areas. I also hope to explore with colleagues how we can use ‘big-data’ OMICS and modeling methods,” he said. Research and training activities will extend to a second quadrant in the translational cycle that addresses clinical translation, population and implementation sciences, and will include epidemiology, prevention and clinical trials. Greenwald and team have begun to collaborate with scientists, educators and clinicians at WSU, as well as like-minded hospital and industry partners, to develop work capacity. The third quadrant of the translational cycle will involve using scientific evidence to promote treatment and recovery from SUDs and pain conditions in the community and region. The idea is to improve the “cascade of care” for patients that will increase access, linkage, engagement and retention in care for these chronic conditions. Potential partners include several WSU colleges, centers, institutes and departments, the Veterans Administration and other health care entities. The final quadrant will involve evaluating and disseminating results and projecting the influence of these activities into the broader sphere, including collaborations with regional, state and national agencies; public and private insurance providers; fostering appropriate public policies; and training the next generation of clinician-scientists to effectively serve the community. Greenwald’s clinical neuroscience research in the field of SUDs focuses largely on opioid-related problems and the development of treatments such as buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD), with additional brain/behavior studies on cocaine, marijuana and nicotine. “However, my very first publication as a graduate student was on the behavioral assessment of chronic pain patients, and in recent years I’ve returned to conducting research on issues in pain. We’ve already been weaving together research on these areas. Importantly, there does not appear to be a major research center in the U.S. that is explicitly dedicated to the nexus of these two key disease areas,” he said. Greenwald also serves as his department’s associate chair for Research. He leads the Michigan Collaborative Addiction Resources and Education System efforts at WSU to increase the number of certified addiction medicine specialists, and has published works in a variety of academic journals, including a paper in The Lancet on OUD treatment. He has expertise and involvement in the development of novel therapies of opioid addiction, including new forms of buprenorphine, a medication for OUD treatment.
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Counseling offered in video sessions as COVID-19 anxiety builds

Change is often difficult. And when it is abrupt and massive, like the changes being wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, variation from the normal is even harder to accommodate. With face-to-face counseling sessions canceled because of social-distancing rules, mental health professionals in Michigan are resorting to online video sessions. But the full impact of the crisis on mental health is still emerging. “Here, we have a very rapid, immense, huge transition from one style of living to another," said Dr. Arash Javanbakht, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University. "It has affected all the different areas of life. And the transition was not planned. It just happened.” Add uncertainty over who is carrying the contagion and who is not, and how long the pandemic will last. Compound it with such a lack of control that staying at home is the only remedy, and conditions for mental health concerns like anxiety and depression are rampant, Javanbakht and other practitioners said. “Today, I was in the virtual clinic and people are stressed,” said the psychiatrist who specializes in trauma, stress and anxiety. His practice has moved online, like many others.