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Pharmacists could be front-line fighters in battle against opioid epidemic

Professor of Pharmacy Victoria Tutag Lehr penned an article for The Conversation about the role of pharmacists in the battle against the opioid epidemic. “When you stop at your local pharmacy to pick up a toothbrush or an antacid, soon you may also be able to buy an over-the-counter drug to reverse an opioid overdose. The lifesaving drug, naloxone, currently requires a prescription, but it may become available as an over-the-counter purchase in 2020. Despite the national decrease in opioid prescriptions since 2012, the opioid crisis continues. Access to prescription opioids have decreased due to stricter legislation, insurance regulations and the Centers for Disease Control Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. At the same time, the use of heroin and illegally manufactured synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and counterfeit prescription opioids, has escalated.
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4 good practices for anyone caring for quarantined kids

Erica Bocknek, associate professor of educational psychology, wrote a piece for The Conversation offering four good practices for families caring for quarantined children. About 55 million U.S. schoolchildren attend schools that have been closed or are being directly affected by the new coronavirus social distancing rules. Bocknek, a family therapist who studies early childhood development, parenting and family resilience, encourages parents and others raising kids to focus on the 4 R’s: routines, rules, relationships and rituals.
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Wayne State University is offering admission without SAT, ACT requirement for 2020 freshmen

Wayne State University leaders announced Monday that they approved a proposal to temporarily suspend the standardized test score requirement for new fall 2020 freshmen applicants. That means no ACT or SAT scores will be required upon applying to the school. This is for students who will not be able to take the test(s) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We understand what a challenging time this is for high school seniors,” said Ericka M. Jackson, senior director of undergraduate admissions. “We want to provide a path to Wayne State for those students who have not yet taken the SAT or ACT. Now is the time to be helpful, supportive and allow latitude for students to apply without submitting a test score.” The university Board of Governors approved the temporary suspension this week.
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As U.S. coronavirus fatality rate rises to 5 percent, experts are still trying to understand how deadly this virus is

With government officials debating how and when to reopen the economy, a fundamental question about the coronavirus pandemic remains unanswered: Just how deadly is this disease? The “case fatality rate” of covid-19 varies wildly from country to country and even within nations from week to week. Without widespread testing to find out how many people have been infected, it remains impossible to determine precisely the lethality of the virus in any given community or demographic group. Researchers know that many infections result in no symptoms. “You need to do more testing,” said Teena Chopra, professor of medicine at Wayne State University’s division of infectious diseases. Without testing, she said, public health experts are forced “to live in an unknown world, and an unknown environment.”
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Seniors dying from coronavirus. Michigan still won’t name nursing homes

Teena Chopra, a professor of infectious diseases at Wayne State University who leads infection control for the Detroit Medical Center’s eight hospitals, tied many of its COVID-19 deaths to a high rate of elderly patients sickened at area nursing homes. DMC does not publicly report the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. "We are seeing a lot of nursing home populations brought to us very sick, and coming to us with severe illness," she said. Underlying health issues may make the symptoms of COVID-19 more difficult to detect in nursing home populations, she said, because "their biological age is different from their physical age." "They have very subtle symptoms, because their immunity is lower and they may not mount a fever like others can," she said. It may be several days before caregivers suspect a COVID-19 infection "and by then it's too late.” Although the city of Detroit has begun a project to test nursing home staff and residents, Chopra expressed frustration that it hadn't happened sooner and also said it shouldn't be limited to Detroit. "We need to test everybody in a nursing home and separate the positive cases from the ones who are negative," she said.
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What to know while pregnant in the coronavirus era

Experts acknowledge there are still enough unknowns about the virus and its impact on pregnancy to keep expectant mothers – and their doctors – up at night. Many U.S. hospitals now require that all incoming patients have their temperatures taken and symptoms screened at the door. As tests for the virus become more available and in more common use at metropolitan hospitals, some doctors urge they should be standard practice everywhere. “This is a hot topic among hospitals now,” said Char-Dong Hsu, chair of the Wayne State University Obstetrics and Gynecology Department. Similarly to the population at large, as many as eight out of ten pregnant women who have covid-19 may be asymptomatic yet contagious, he noted, meaning they could pose an extra danger to other women and providers if they aren’t identified.
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Unemployment processing issues frustrate Michiganders

Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson has been hosting hour-long specials on 101.9 WDET where local experts answer listener questions on COVID-19. For this special, Marick Masters interim chair of the Department of Finance at Wayne State’s Mike Ilitch School of Business, joined other experts to answer questions from tweets, email and call-ins. Economists say Michigan is now at depression-level unemployment. One million people are now jobless. To help residents, Congress passed a stimulus package and expanded unemployment benefits to self-employed and gig economy workers, among others. That has meant an unprecedented surge of jobless claims and applications, which has challenged the state’s unemployment agency’s ability to handle that volume of claims. When eligibility opened up for workers who were previously denied unemployment benefits, the state’s unemployment website malfunctioned under the weight of all of the people hoping to take advantage of the expanded benefits. As of April 17, Michigan has paid out $823 million to 765,000 Michiganders, with about 300,000 more residents expected to receive benefits for the first time next week. 
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Race disparities amid infectious diseases aren't new. It's time we took action | Opinion

Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson wrote an op-ed about race disparities amid infectious diseases and the need to take action. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published data on hospitalizations for COVID-19 across 14 states from March 1-30 in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It documented that African Americans accounted for 33% of the hospitalizations but only 18% of the total population in the 14 states. Many states have reported an even starker reality. African-Americans accounted for 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan and 43% in Illinois despite making up only 14% of the population in both states. Such disparities in disease outcome by race are unacceptable, but not surprising. Health disparities by race/ethnicity have existed for a long time in our country.” Wilson continued: “I urge that we focus now on what can be done to narrow this racial disparity in outcomes for COVID-19, starting with a more effective communication effort targeted toward African-American communities.”
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Health officials expect a gradual loosening of social distancing measures

There are indications that Michigan’s coronavirus case count may be leveling off, prompting even Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to start thinking about how the state will begin to ease the stay-at-home order and other social distancing measures implemented to contain the outbreak. Since April 3, when the state reported nearly 2,000 new cases, new positive cases have started to decline. The executive order mandating stay-at-home expires April 30. One of Whitmer’s criteria for at least partially reopening the state involves testing and that could be problematic, according to health officials. Dr. Teena Chopra, a professor of infectious diseases at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, said testing in Michigan is very limited and not sufficient to understand the true burden of disease. “I would recommend the state to start universally testing all high-risk individuals including (the) elderly, obese, diabetics, immunocompromised etc., regardless of symptoms,” she said. “Once life reopens it won’t be like a switch on, it will be from darkness to dimness,” said Chopra. “We would need to have a structured restart. I would still advise to keep a distance from others and wear a mask while (shopping) for groceries.” Even as the social distancing measures are modified or lifted, Chopra said that the virus will still be placing demands on health officials, the government and the public. “Pease remember we are still in the mitigation phase of the pandemic and we need to plan for the other phases now. All of this planning and further planning to prevent future pandemics should be done now,” she said.
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Coronavirus is causing a mental health crisis. Here’s how to fight it

As weeks of distancing turn into months, many people are experiencing a greater and greater sense of isolation. They’re also dealing with the uncertainty of when and how the pandemic will end, the fear of getting infected, the economic crisis that has cost millions of Americans their jobs, and the inconsistent messaging about the virus from authority figures. “All aspects of life are affected” by the pandemic, said Arash Javanbakht, a trauma specialist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University. “It was like one day, everything changed.” And while the current crisis is stressful for everyone, people who already have conditions like anxiety or depression may be especially at risk, psychologists say. For people with anxiety disorders, for example, “any new stressor can make it worse,” Javanbakht said. It’s safe to say that billions of people around the world are in a stressful situation right now. For many, life changed nearly overnight, with little time to prepare, Javanbakht noted. Some are now trying to work from home while caring for children. Others have been laid off or furloughed and may be worried about how they will pay their bills. Meanwhile, people are getting a lot of contradictory information about the virus and the measures needed to combat it, Javanbakht said. While President Trump may say one thing, public health officials may say another. “It’s confusing and stressing,” Javanbakht said.
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As Michigan fights coronavirus, hospitals gush money and workers lose jobs

Shooshan Danagoulian, assistant professor in the economics department at Wayne State University, said the coronavirus pandemic is having a very sharp, negative impact on hospitals because they depend so heavily on elective and non-emergency care for revenue — medical work that has ground to a halt during the COVID-19 crisis. With so many workers now unemployed and lacking the health insurance their jobs provided, patients who do show up at the hospital may be unable to pay their bills, she said. "In this pandemic, hospitals are going to have to find new ways of reducing their costs. Right now, physician groups and hospitals are cutting physicians' salaries and hours, and administrators are taking pay cuts," she said. "Providers overall are feeling like they're caught between a rock and hard place," she said. On one hand, they're "running toward the fire" that is COVID-19. On the other, they're "having to make these tough financial choices: how to keep their staff, how to pay their staff, and who to let go ...  hospitals have no good choices for surviving this." Danagoulian said she believes hospital volumes will slowly recover through the summer, but will not return to pre-pandemic levels until next year.
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When and how will it end? Considering the end-game for Michigan’s coronavirus crisis

They’re the questions on everybody’s mind about Michigan’s coronavirus crisis. When will it end? How will it end? When will things get back to normal? Extreme social distancing is the only way to bring coronavirus numbers down to the point where the economy can re-open; it’s the only tool available, absent a vaccine, said Dr. Paul Kilgore, Wayne State University physician and epidemiologist. “I look at sheltering in place almost as a vaccine,” he said. “It’s our vaccine intervention for now. “The more we do it, the more it will continue to be effective,” he said. “We really need to get to that flattening curve ASAP. It’s absolutely the No. 1 priority.”
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Wayne State University opens up dorm for Detroit health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Wayne State University is offering a campus dorm to Detroit health care workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Workers with the Henry Ford Health System and Detroit Medical Center have the opportunity to stay at Atchison Hall so they don’t need to return home as they battle COVID-19 on the frontlines. The building has private accommodations for more than 200 people. People staying in the hall will receive a hospitality snack bag and linens. They also have access to Wi-Fi, community kitchens and in-building laundry.
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Ford, Wayne State roll out mobile testing for COVID-19 in Metro Detroit

Ford Motor Co. and Wayne State University physicians are rolling out mobile testing units this week. A partnership between the carmaker, WSU, and the Wayne State University Physician Group will yield hundreds of new daily COVID-19 test kits for symptomatic first responders, health care workers and corrections officers. A first of its kind in the state, the testing will be done with the help of Lincoln Navigators fully equipped with staff and medical kits provided by the university. “This support for those on the front lines of the pandemic is critical, and we felt we needed to respond urgently by testing first responders and health care workers with drive-through testing,” said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. “Now we can expand our efforts with ‘drive-to’ testing for those first responders across the region who lack access to testing. We are extremely grateful to Ford for helping us expand this initiative and bring mobile testing to these high-risk individuals, and to the United Way for its support of both our drive-through and drive-to initiatives.”
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How to maintain relationships in self-isolation

As the realization that we were going into an extended period of lockdown began to dawn, a frenzy of questions started flying around the internet. Many people were wondering what it might mean for our romantic lives, from whether we should still date while social distancing to how to practice safe sex during the pandemic. But what about at an emotional level? What should we do to keep our relationships happy and healthy during the pandemic? In the absence of a loved one, something physically sent by them can help. Katheryn Maguire, a professor in the department of communication at Wayne State University, talks about the remedying effects of a “good old-fashioned handwritten letter.” “There is something special about holding something they held,” she says. “The paper was in their hand; you see their writing, if they wear perfume [you can smell it], that makes it very present.” In fact, isolating together brings its own stresses. One thing that long-distance relationships can teach us then is there is something about segmenting your life: being together and focused on each other when you are, and being apart and focused on that,” says Maguire. Maguire concludes that if the only problem you have is being away from each other – well, that’s a really good sign. Likewise, couples isolating together should remember that the stress of quarantine will pass.
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How does Michigan's economy bounce back from the COVID crisis? A business expert weighs in

As more Michiganders file for unemployment and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay at home order is extended through April 30, the question now turns to how do we get Michigan open again, when some of the restrictions are lifted and people can start going back to work? Everywhere you look it's like a ghost town. Businesses are closed and millions of people are looking for work. However, after all of this passes – how do businesses get back on track and bring customers back? How does Michigan open up again? "Well to put it into perspective, the Michigan economy has already taken a very hard hit," said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University. With hundreds of thousands of businesses closed across Michigan, the state's economy is feeling the pain. "Payroll has gone down from about 4.5 million to under 3.3 million," Masters said. "It’s estimated that in Michigan this quarter unemployment will jump to 24 percent." However, Masters says there is some hopeful news. Depending on when this pandemic starts to slow down, we could start seeing a resurgence of local businesses.
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‘We need help’: Coronavirus ‘devastating’ black cities in outstate Michigan

One month since Michigan’s first case of coronavirus, the pandemic is taking a far heavier toll on African-American communities statewide, from metro Detroit to Ypsilanti and Flint to Lansing. Nationwide, African Americans in cities such as Chicago, New Orleans and Milwaukee have been infected at greater rates, while the Associated Press reported this week that African Americans comprised 42 percent of the nation’s deaths where demographic data were made public, some 3,300 of 13,000. “I'm not surprised and in fact I would say that it's expected,” said Dr. M. Roy Wilson, an ophthalmologist and president of Wayne State University. I'm somewhat surprised that people are surprised.” Wilson, who worked on strategic planning on minority health and health disparities at the National Institutes for Health, said poverty and lower levels of education have left more minorities exposed to the virus through jobs that can’t be done from home. African Americans also are more likely to have a harder time with the virus because of underlying health conditions, Wilson said. Wilson said those underlying conditions create a quicker sequence, or cadence, from “morbidity to mortality.”