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How promising is the vaccine news if people won't take it? | Opinion

Kristin Taylor, associate professor in Wayne State’s Department of Political Science, co-authored an op-ed about the forthcoming vaccine and prospects for serious public participation. “The last few weeks have brought a key tool in the fight against coronavirus: Moderna recently announced that a vaccine in Phase 3 trials was nearly 95 percent effective, exceeding even the most optimistic projections. Pfizer and BioNTech have also made similar announcements. But excitement about a forthcoming vaccine has been tempered by the reality that more and more Americans report having serious reservations about getting vaccinated. Alongside further vaccine development, the incoming Biden administration will need a strategic communication and public outreach plan aimed at fighting what public health experts call vaccine hesitancy.”
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How to help kids who feel isolated right now

During the pandemic and move of schools to remote instruction, trying to navigate and supplement students’ emotional needs has proven more challenging. For many families, the deeper we get into this pandemic, the harder it gets. Hannah Schacter, a developmental psychologist at Wayne State University studies how adolescents’ social relationships affect their mental and physical health. She said what we’re experiencing right now is not uncommon. “One of children’s and adolescents’ favorite things about going to school is getting to interact with their peers—both in and outside of the classroom. The shift to predominantly online learning has limited kids’ abilities to engage in those informal school-based interactions that make them feel good—things like lunch with their friends in the cafeteria, sports games, after-school clubs, and sharing funny stories at their lockers during passing time.” She also notes that those emotional needs shouldn’t be thought of as separate from learning, calling them “intricately intertwined, not separate priorities.” Hilary Marusak is a developmental neuroscientist at Wayne State who studies brain development in children and adolescents, and the effects of stress and trauma on the brain. She notes that most kids do have anxieties related to social distancing and life during the pandemic. She and Schacter both say that one simple way parents and caregivers can check in on kids’ mental and emotional health is simply asking them questions.
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Michigan Racial Disparities Task Force releases interim COVID-19 report

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, released an interim report detailing the significant progress Michigan has made in protecting communities of color from the spread of COVID-19. As of Nov. 16, more than 24,000 tests have been administered in previously underserved communities across 21 neighborhood testing sites, according to the governor’s office. These state-operated sites provide COVID-19 testing on a consistent schedule, several days per week. All sites offer free testing, and a prescription is not required for someone to be tested, nor is any form of ID required. From March and April to September and October, the average cases per million per day for Black Michiganders dropped from 176 to 59. In the same period, the number of probable deaths per million per day among Black Michiganders dropped significantly — from 21.7 to 1. “As a member of the Michigan Task Force on Racial Disparities, I am proud of the hard work we have done to protect communities of color from the spread of COVID-19,” said M. Roy Wilson, Task Force Member and president of Wayne State University. “I want to thank Governor Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist for their leadership as we have fought to eliminate this virus. Our work on the task force is far from over, but the data is clear – we have taken swift, meaningful action to protect Michigan’s most vulnerable communities and save lives, and we will continue to do so until this fight is over.”
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Detroit leader pledges $250,000 to support WSU social work scholarships

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and Detroit leader William F. Pickard has pledged $250,000 to support five scholarships in the Wayne State University School of Social Work. The scholarships will be available to undergraduate and graduate social-work students who attend full or part time. Students also must be active members of the Association of Black Social Workers Detroit chapter or the Wayne State chapter. Pickard is a former faculty member in the WSU School of Social Work, and helped shape the school in several ways. In 2017, he gave $125,000 to support renovations in the school’s new building on Woodward Avenue. He also used that opportunity to name four rooms in honor of important people in his life, including longtime friend Paul Hubbard. Hubbard, who founded the nonprofit Black Family Development in 1978,  worked with Pickard to improve the lives of Black families in Detroit. An alumnus and dedicated supporter of the School of Social Work, Hubbard has served on the school’s Board of Visitors for several years. As a graduate student, Hubbard served as the president of the Association of Black Students and founded the Wayne State chapter of the Association of Black Social Workers, the first student chapter in the country. Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson noted both men are important leaders in Detroit and at Wayne State. “Dr. Pickard and Mr. Hubbard have devoted themselves to strengthening the Black community in Detroit and ensuring that Black students have equal access to the education and opportunities that can create generational change,” Wilson said. “We are grateful to have them as part of our university community.” Pickard hopes his giving will inspire a new generation of Black men to pursue social work, a field in which they’re underrepresented. “It’s important for social workers to reflect the community members they serve,” said School of Social Work Dean Sheryl Kubiak. “At the Wayne State University School of Social Work, we’re teaching future community leaders how to make a difference. They can have no finer examples than Dr. William Pickard and Mr. Paul Hubbard.”
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Can employers require vaccinations?

As the nation inches closer to a coronavirus vaccine, many businesses are wondering if they can mandate its employees to get vaccinated. Legal experts across the state have already begun to weigh in on the matter. “Employers have quite a lot of authority in requiring something like a vaccination for their employees,” Lance Gable, an associate law professor at Wayne State, said. “It’s especially true if the vaccine is likely to create a safe and healthy work environment.” Gable said we often see vaccinate mandates for those working in health care, but other industries have also set such requirements when it comes to getting vaccinations like the flu shot. In such cases, there are exemptions spelled out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Employers have to allow for exceptions if people have either a disability, which would be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or if someone has a strongly-held religious objection, (then) there are some other civil rights protections that allow them to get an exemption from a vaccine requirement on that basis,” Gable said. Gable said it’s yet to be said whether these same exemptions will apply to the COVID-19 vaccine, but it’s a matter many hope the EEOC will clarify before the vaccine is made available.
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Ford donates 50,000 face masks to Wayne State University

A donation of 50,000 medical-grade, disposable face masks from the Ford Motor Co. Fund provides a critical stockpile at Wayne State University that will help protect students and the campus community throughout the pandemic. “We are immensely grateful for this generous gift of face masks from the Ford Motor Co. Fund,” says David Strauss, dean of students at WSU. “Having medical-grade PPE on hand for students will help keep us all Warrior Safe and Warrior Strong.” The disposable masks are a welcome addition to the cloth masks Wayne State distributes to all students and will be available throughout the year for health science programs and at units across campus that primarily serve students, such as the Student Center and the libraries. All students can use them as needed.
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Detroit Philanthropist William Pickard creates five scholarships in Wayne State’s School of Social Work

Successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and Detroit leader William F. Pickard is pledging $250,000 to support scholarships in the Wayne State University School of Social Work, according to the school website. An initial gift of $150,000 will create five scholarships, and a future gift of $100,000 will endow the scholarships and make them permanent. The scholarships will be available to undergraduate and graduate social work students who attend full or part time at the university. Each scholarship is named in honor of someone who has made a significant impact on Pickard’s development as a leader, including Paul L. Hubbard who has a long friendship with Pickard. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson noted both men are important leaders in Detroit and at Wayne State. “Dr. Pickard and Mr. Hubbard have devoted themselves to strengthening the Black community in Detroit and ensuring that Black students have equal access to the education and opportunities that can create generational change,” he said. “We are grateful to have them as part of our university community.” Pickard hopes his giving will inspire a new generation of Black men to pursue social work, a field in which they’re underrepresented. “It’s important for social workers to reflect the community members they serve,” said School of Social Work Dean Sheryl Kubiak in the release. “At the Wayne State University School of Social Work, we’re teaching future community leaders how to make a difference. They can have no finer examples than Dr. William Pickard and Mr. Paul Hubbard.”
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Spotlight on the News: How Michigan leaders of UM, MSU & WSU are confronting COVID-19 through their URC

On Sunday, November 29, Spotlight on the News featured the presidents of Michigan’s three largest public universities. In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, what’s their leadership plan for the University Research Corridor, one of the nation’s most collaborative and prestigious higher educational partnerships. How are they helping their health care workers, public officials, teachers, students, parents and business owners deal with this worldwide health crisis? Guests included Dr. M. Roy Wilson of Wayne State University, Dr. Mark S. Schlissel of the University of Michigan and Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. of Michigan State University.
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Why waiters give Black customers poor service

Zachary Brewster, associate professor of sociology, wrote an article for The Conversation. “When Black diners get poorer service from wait staff and bartenders than white customers, it’s more likely because of racial bias than the well-documented fact that they tip less, according to a new survey I recently published. To reach that conclusion, my colleague Gerald Nowak and I recruited over 700 mostly white full-service restaurant servers and bartenders to review a hypothetical dining scenario that randomly involved either white or Black customers. We then asked them to predict the tip that the table would leave, the likelihood that the table would exhibit undesirable dining behaviors and the quality of service they would likely provide the table. We also asked participants to fill out a survey to learn how frequently they observed anti-Black expressions of bias in their workplaces and to elicit if they harbored their own prejudices toward African Americans. Servers who either held prejudices toward African Americans, worked in a restaurant where racist remarks were frequently heard or both were significantly more likely to predict that the table with Black customers would not only tip them less but also display uncivil, demanding and dishonest behaviors. As a result, these servers also reported that they would give worse service to the Black table relative to the white one. We found no evidence of racially disparate treatment except when one of those two conditions was present: server prejudice or racist workplace words and behaviors.”
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Joe Biden has promised to end Trump's Muslim and African 'travel ban'. But its legacy will be felt for years

For many Muslims, the real issue behind the travel restrictions is Islamophobia. Khaled Beydoun, a law professor at Wayne State University, warns against “only understanding Islamophobia through the Muslim ban” and remains skeptical about just how much Biden will do to root out systemic Islamophobia. “The Biden administration won’t engage in the same kind of Islamophobia as Trump does” but we may see a continuance of bombing countries like Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as sweeping domestic surveillance programs that target Muslims.

COVID-19’s impact on education

The majority of American public school students are now well into a virtual school year and data from around the country is starting to show that middle and high school students are falling behind. This week Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, one of the biggest districts in the country, reported an 83% jump in middle and high schoolers earning F’s this year compared to last year. In the independent school district in Houston more than 40% of middle and high school students are failing at least two of their classes. And in St. Paul, Minn. the superintendent reports nearly 40% of public high school students have failing marks, double the normal number. Hannah Schacter, psychology professor at Wayne State University and an expert on adolescent development, joined a discussion about COVID-19’s impact on education. 
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Kids, teens could be feeling pandemic-related stress. Here's how parents can help

From the global pandemic to the divisive 2020 election, kids and teens are absorbing a lot of the same stress 2020 has brought adults; and what's worse, is that at a time when play dates or sleepovers are discouraged for public health reasons, kids might be needing that social outlet the most. Most organized youth sports are on hold right now, and many school districts in Michigan have moved fully remote due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. “During adolescence, this is a time when kids are really primed to want to explore their environment, to seek out new experiences. And being stuck at home with your parents isn’t really the best way to fulfill those developmental needs," said Hannah Schacter, an assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State. In the onset of the pandemic -- kids, especially teens, missed out on some key social milestones like prom, sporting events, and graduation. “And now suddenly you have moments of hope, of maybe it’s getting better and maybe we’re heading back there and then suddenly that’s shifting," Schacter said. Until Dec. 8, high school students statewide are learning remotely due to the an epidemic health order aimed at the slowing the spread of the virus. It's a move Schacter said could pose a greater problem for students who rely on in-school academic or social support. “It requires a greater sort of pro-activeness to seek out those services which is not always entirely possible in a virtual environment."
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Meet Michigan's incoming Supreme Court justice: Elizabeth Welch

Wayne State University professor Robert Sedler, an expert in constitutional law, said while Elizabeth Welch's election to the Michigan Supreme Court means there are more justices nominated by Democrats than Republicans, partisanship doesn't always determine how justices vote. He noted rulings where GOP-nominated justices David Viviano and Elizabeth Clement have sided with their Democratic-nominated colleagues. A notable exception, Sedler said, was the October ruling in which the court decided that a 1945 law that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer relied on for her emergency orders to combat COVID-19 was unconstitutional. The four GOP-nominated justices all ruled to void the law, sparking anger from Democrats. "It was not typical of the decisions coming from the court," Sedler said. "The court acted in a very partisan way." Sedler said while the court and the elections for justices are officially nonpartisan, he believes members keep their political support in mind. "You don't forget who brought you to the dance," he said.
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Wayne State University and Karmanos Cancer Institute to host two-day symposium focused on advancing health equity and the impact of COVID-19

Wayne State University and the Karmanos Cancer Institute will host the “Community-Engaged Research Symposium to Advance Health Equity: The Impact of Coronavirus Now and in the Future,” on Dec. 1 and 2. The virtual symposium is free and open to the public; registration is required and can be completed online. “This is our third annual symposium, and we are honored to take on the challenge of adapting it to the pandemic,” said Rhonda Dailey, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and public health sciences, and scientific director of the Office of Community Engaged Research at Wayne State University. “The virtual platform is a convenient way for academicians, community organizations and community members involved in community-based research to present their hard-earned work related to COVID-19. We hope that attendees will use the symposium to form new, lasting connections and partnerships.” Community-academic research partnerships are more important than ever, according to Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., professor of oncology in the Wayne State School of Medicine and associate center director for community outreach and engagement at Karmanos Cancer Institute. “Just like cancer, heart disease and a host of other conditions, the burden of COVID-19 is greater in communities of color, in under-resourced areas and among groups who are marginalized in other ways,” said Thompson. “If we want to generate data and knowledge that can make a difference, meaningful collaboration between these groups and academic researchers is essential. This symposium is one step toward real collaboration.”
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Michigan officials say no to big Thanksgiving gatherings. Who will listen?

Hospital leaders have pleaded. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has warned. Health officials have mandated, inspected and threatened fines. And a statistical model developed by Harvard researchers predicts nearly 1,000 COVID deaths a day in Michigan by year’s end if we can’t change the arc of the virus. But even as hospitalizations and deaths accelerate, will residents follow state pandemic restrictions — including limits on holiday gatherings — to help curb the spread of COVID-19? Public messaging on health risks is a “really challenging form of communication, and it's a lot easier to get it wrong than it is to get it right,” said Matt Seeger, dean of Wayne State University’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and an expert in crisis communications. “It's difficult to get people's attention around risk issues. Consider how long we've been trying to convince people to stop smoking,” he said. Mixed messages, politics — and an evolving understanding of the coronavirus — have complicated the task. Seeger said a one-size-fits-all message is unlikely to work, and may backfire when it’s delivered by the government. 
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The do’s and don’ts to celebrating Thanksgiving safely in 2020

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the country, including here in Michigan. The healthcare system is once again overwhelmed, with some hospitals nearing capacity. This fact is complicated by the impending holiday season. Families are assessing the safety of their typical celebratory gatherings and discussing how to adapt. Public health officials say these small gatherings are dangerous at this stage in the pandemic. Dr. Paul Kilgore is an associate professor and director of research at Wayne State University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He is also the principal investigator at Henry Ford Health System’s novel coronavirus vaccine trial. Kilgore spoke with Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today about how to keep safe during the holidays. “With more extended family gatherings, there’s always a risk of transmission…there is a chance that there could be someone there who is asymptomatic who could spread (COVID-19).” Do keep in mind that the virus travels differently indoors and in cooler air. “We know as people come indoors and as the proximity of individuals becomes closer, it’s much easier for the droplets… to move from one person to another,” says Kilgore. He adds, “In the wintertime with the lower humidity… the respiratory droplets can travel farther than they would in the warmer summer months when there is higher humidity.”
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3 reasons for information exhaustion – and what to do about it

Mark Satta, assistant professor of philosophy, penned an article for The Conversation about epistemic exhaustion.“An endless flow of information is coming at us constantly: It might be an article a friend shared on Facebook with a sensational headline or wrong information about the spread of the coronavirus. It could even be a call from a relative wanting to talk about a political issue. All this information may leave many of us feeling as though we have no energy to engage. As a philosopher who studies knowledge-sharing practices, I call this experience “epistemic exhaustion.” The term “epistemic” comes from the Greek word episteme, often translated as “knowledge.” So epistemic exhaustion is more of a knowledge-related exhaustion. It is not knowledge itself that tires out many of us. Rather, it is the process of trying to gain or share knowledge under challenging circumstances.”
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Trials underway in Detroit for potential Covid antibody treatment

With the recent uptick in cases of COVID-19 in Michigan and throughout much of the country, Detroit Today’s coverage about this moment of the pandemic is a top priority. There’s reason to be at least cautiously hopeful about the recent news of potential vaccines for the virus, but there’s still a real need for continued research for alternative treatments. One such effort involves the use of convalescent blood plasma through trials being led locally by Wayne State University and Johns Hopkins researchers. Dr. James Paxton is the leader of the Detroit branch of the trial. He’s also the Director of Clinical Research for Detroit Receiving Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine, and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine. He explains that convalescent blood plasma therapy is really just using antibodies found in the blood of people who have previously had COVID-19. ”Antibodies are essential to fighting any infection… and your body retains the antibodies so that it can remember how it defeated [the virus] before in case it needs to defeat it again in the future.” Paxton says that his work at the Detroit trial site involves matching processed plasma with those who need to receive it. “We think it will work,” he says of the plasma transfusion pointing to the history of this kind of medical intervention.
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A new pilot program at Wayne State looks to shore up an often overlooked part of education - financial literacy

The Craig Fahle Show featured guests Matthew Roling, founding executive director of Wayne State’s Office of Business Innovation, and Julie Hollinshead, adjunct faculty member of the Finance Department at the Mike Ilitch School of Business. The two are responsible for the launch of a new pilot program, the WSU Financial Capability Center. It is designed to give students access to financial tools and qualified individuals who can support, guide and enable them to organize and stabilize their lives financially and get on the road to financial security. 
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WSU Nursing and partners to provide tech-enabled health care for Detroit’s low-income seniors

Wayne State University has received $2 million to provide health care services to low-income older adults as part of Connecting Seniors, a collaborative effort to close the generational digital divide. Four thousand older adults and their caregivers will receive a custom application that connects them to a suite of health care services at WSU, as well as numerous health-related tools developed by Microsoft and Accenture in response to COVID-19. Connecting Seniors is made possible by a $3.9 million grant from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities Rapid Response Initiative to the Connect 313 Fund, administered by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.The Connect 313 Fund was created in 2020 to support digital inclusion efforts across the region. Equipment and connectivity will be provided by human I-T, a nonprofit that provides low-income groups with technology. Digital devices will be distributed using Focus: HOPE’s food distribution network. Wayne State will provide physical and mental health care directly to older adults and caregivers throughout Detroit using telehealth technologies. The College of Nursing will offer integration of interprofessional mental health care and chronic care management for Virginia Park and surrounding community residents and an initiative to build the infection protection and control capacity of two long-term care facilities in Detroit.