The Daily’s COVID-19 coverage archive
The coronavirus pandemic has created a hectic news cycle. This page serves as an archive for all of The Daily’s COVID-19 coverage. For the most up-to-date coronavirus news, click here.
Dec. 22: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill Tuesday morning, vetoing a large portion of the initial $483 million coronavirus assistance bill approved by the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate last week.
Rather than signing the bill as it was passed by the legislature, Whitmer used a line-item veto to counter certain parts of the bill, while signing the rest of the bill as it was presented. Whitmer’s signing of the bill was expected, as she repeatedly emphasized the need for COVID-19 relief for families and small businesses. In a press release Tuesday morning, Whitmer said the bill would provide families and businesses a means to stay afloat as vaccine distribution proceeds.
Dec. 18: High schools, indoor venues and outdoor group fitness activities will be allowed to reopen and resume in Michigan as of Monday, Dec. 21, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced at a Friday afternoon press conference. The order will expire Friday, Jan. 21.
Under the updated epidemic order, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will allow in-person instruction at high schools and indoor venues such as fitness centers, bowling alleys and casinos to reopen. Conditions for reopening include ample room for social distancing with a limit of 100 people, concession stands remaining closed and masks being worn. According to the updated order, colleges and universities are allowed to have students return to campus beginning Jan. 18, although the University of Michigan plans to hold almost all classes remotely and will only allow certain students in University housing
This change is a result of a decrease in three metrics used to measure the spread of COVID-19 following tightened protocols in mid-November: hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients, overall case rates and the positivity rate, which is currently 10.6%. This is down from the 14.3% positivity rate reported on Dec. 4, the highest in recent weeks.
Whitmer stressed the changes were a result of safe behavior from Michiganders in November.
Dec. 18: Michigan Medicine first received 1,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 14 and began vaccinating employees the following day, according to Mary Masson, director of public relations at Michigan Medicine.
Michigan Medicine plans to distribute the vaccine in two phases, with Phase 1 having three distinct stages. Phase 1A includes health care professionals and residents of long-term care facilities; Phase 1B is other workers deemed “essential” like educators, food service workers and police; and Phase 1C is all adults over 65 years old and those with high risk medical conditions. Phase 2 is large-scale distribution to all adults.
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require two separate shots. Pfizer’s shots are given 21 days apart from one another, while Moderna’s are administered 28 days apart. University students who do not fall into Phase 1 will be able to be vaccinated in Phase 2.
In an email to the University community on Dec. 14, University President Mark Schlissel wrote the University will eventually have enough doses for all who wish to get the vaccine. University community members are being asked to fill out the Blue Queue questionnaire, a survey to gauge interest in the COVID-19 vaccine and determine priority groups for vaccination.
Dec. 14: Michigan Medicine will begin vaccinating employees Monday after receiving 1,950 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning. In total, about 200 Michigan Medicine team members will be vaccinated this week as a “test run” of operational processes.
University of Michigan officials had anticipated vaccinations might begin as early as Dec. 15, with the Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization granted last week, so the program appears to be on schedule. Michigan Medicine could ramp up the volume of vaccinations as early as next week, depending on supply.
“Michigan Medicine has about 28,000 employees, so this first shipment is a limited supply,” Michigan Medicine spokesperson Mary Masson wrote.
The 1,950 doses received Monday are part of the state of Michigan’s initial shipment of about 84,000 doses. Michigan Medicine will continue to receive weekly shipments, with eventually enough supply for anyone who wants the vaccine.
Dec. 11: The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to the COVID-19 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine Friday, a major step in curbing a pandemic that has killed more than 290,000 Americans. Pfizer has said they are ready to distribute the vaccine within hours.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced their priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination in a press release Friday. The first phases of distribution will administer vaccines first to health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities, then to essential workers and finally to senior citizens or adults with high risk medical conditions.
The University of Michigan is prepared to start administering Pfizer vaccines as early as Dec. 15 and will do so in three phases that match the state’s prioritization plan.
According to Medical School professor Sandro Cinti, Michigan Medicine plans to vaccinate about 60,000 to 80,000 people in the next few months and is developing a vaccine operations center to hire and train distributors.
Dec. 10: The state of Michigan expects to receive nearly 84,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine next week if it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration today, announced Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
At the press conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also announced that the state is partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services to create the Protect Michigan Commission. The committee will raise awareness about the COVID-19 vaccine and educate residents about its safety and effectiveness.
Dec. 8: The state of Michigan passed 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, with more than one out of every 1,000 Michiganders dead from the virus. The state also reported 191 new confirmed deaths and 5,909 confirmed new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, reaching a total of 410,295 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March. November was the state's second deadliest month.
At a press conference Monday, Whitmer announced a 12-day extension of COVID-19 restrictions as cases continue to rise. According to Monday’s COVID-19 update, nearly 100 people are dying every day, more than seven times the daily average in October.
“While we have seen early signs of progress in our case rates and hospitalizations, unfortunately our rates are still alarmingly high and we need more time to understand the impact that Thanksgiving travel may have had on the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said in a press release Monday. “I am hopeful because vaccines will be available soon, potentially later this month. However, it will take time for the vaccine to be widely available to the general public, and it is important that we continue to do what we can to contain this virus.”
According to Whitmer, 79% of all hospital beds in the state were occupied as of early this week and transfers of medical professionals to Michigan hospitals have been difficult with cases rising nationwide.
Dec. 7: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Robert Gordon, director of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, announced the extension of current COVID-19 restrictions on Monday afternoon. The 12-day extension is a result of a large uptick in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday. U.S. air travel hit its highest level with more than 9.4 million people passing through TSA checkpoints nationwide over the holiday weekend.
Whitmer said at the request of hospitals statewide, the state would continue to enforce restrictions to monitor case positivity and hospitalization rates. Whitmer reported that 79% of all hospital beds were occupied across the state and said this situation is different than last spring, where health care workers from less-affected areas across the nation came to assist.
According to the State of Michigan Emergency Operations Center, the order will maintain existing measures through Dec. 20 and does not include a blanket stay-home action. Employees considered essential workers, including those in manufacturing, construction and health occupations, may continue to work. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open. Retail shopping, public transit, restaurant takeout, personal-care services and individualized exercise at a gym will be permitted.
Dec. 4: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced updated protocol regarding COVID-19 quarantine periods based on new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The new guidance gives the option for a 10-day quarantine period after exposure, which is different from the original 14-day recommendation. The press release from MDHHS says that the quarantine period can be reduced if the following conditions are met:
1. “The individual does not develop any symptoms or clinical evidence of COVID-19 infection during daily symptom monitoring for the 10 days after the last exposure.”
2. “Daily symptom monitoring continues through day 14 after the last exposure.”
According to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of MDHHS, this new recommendation is based on latest data from the CDC, including the finding that 99% of COVID-19 infections will develop within 10 days of exposure. MDHHS is still evaluating future options for further reductions of quarantine periods.
Dec 3: As residence halls empty out and many students return to their permanent homes until next semester, reliance on the University of Michigan’s Quarantine and Isolation Housing has been decreasing. But throughout the semester, students have raised concerns about a lack of oversight in Q&I housing, where decisions about rules and safety seemed to be left to students’ discretion.
LSA freshman Adin Joyce, who was quarantined in Northwood Apartments at the end of September, would go on walks around North Campus with a friend who was also in quarantine. He said he knew others who would return to Central Campus while in quarantine.
Click here to read more.
Dec. 3: The University reported 74 new COVID-19 cases the week of Thanksgiving. Hospitalizations at Michigan Medicine continue to rise with 105 COVID-19 patients currently admitted to the university hospital, according to a Dec. 2 update. Nationally, the United States reported its highest number of daily new deaths since the beginning of the pandemic Tuesday.
Due to a plethora of students leaving over Thanksgiving break, COVID-19 activity on campus has slowed. As of Wednesday night, the University reports 324 positive cases in the last 14 days. The University’s quarantine and isolation housing has decreased to 2.5% occupancy compared to last week’s figure of 6.7%, according to updates posted on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Nov. 25: University of Michigan cases now account for less than 15% of all cases in Washtenaw County, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard website. As of Wednesday morning, the University reports 327 positive cases in the last 14 days. Quarantine and isolation housing has decreased to 6.7% occupancy compared to last week’s figure of 10.7%. Approximately 9,600 students have been tested since Nov. 9.
Washtenaw County reports 1,823 confirmed cases and six deaths in the last two weeks, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department website. The county reported 180 confirmed cases and 16 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours.
The state reported 6,290 new cases and 145 deaths Tuesday. Fifty-one of the deaths were identified during a vitals record review.
Nov. 23: LynxDx, a local biotechnology company partnered with the University of Michigan to provide COVID-19 PCR testing, said that at least one of its testing locations is experiencing high demand on Monday.
“We are experiencing extremely high volumes today, if you have registered for testing, please come tomorrow or the following day (Wednesday),” LynxDx wrote in a Monday tweet. “We aim to accommodate as many people as possible, but may not be able to do so if you arrive today.”
The 2|42 Community Center is the testing site experiencing this high demand, the Washtenaw County Health Department specified in a follow-up tweet.
In September, the Board of Regents voted to approve an eight-month contract not to exceed $2.124 million with LynxDx to offer saliva-based COVID-19 surveillance testing.
Nov. 19: Michigan is reporting 7,592 new cases and 134 deaths, including 64 from vital records reviews.
Michigan has the fourth highest number of hospitalizations of all states, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at MDHHS, said at a Thursday press conference. Khaldun also cautioned that every region in the state is seeing alarming test positivity rates.
Washtenaw County reported 148 confirmed cases and two hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department website.
The University of Michigan is reporting 377 new cases in the last 14 days, according to its COVID-19 dashboard.
Nov. 18: With Thanksgiving break on the horizon, departure testing is underway and will be available through Dec. 8 with additional dates added weekly. Sign up for a departure test here.
As of Wednesday evening, the University reports 381 positive cases in the last 14 days. The University’s quarantine and isolation housing has decreased to 10.7% occupancy compared to last week’s figure of 19%, according to updates posted on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Nov. 16: The state of Michigan has reported its 8,000th death related to COVID-19. The state reported 12,736 new cases and 55 deaths over a two-day period.
“As the weather gets colder, we must continue to listen to medical experts and join forces to fight COVID-19,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a Monday press release. “We beat this virus in the spring by listening to the public health experts, and we can beat it again.”
Nov. 15: Following a record-breaking week for COVID-19 cases in Michigan and a worsening situation across the country, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency epidemic order Sunday evening, implementing new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
The order, which takes effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., limits indoor gatherings to two households at a time, closes indoor dining at bars and restaurants and shuts down casinos and movie theaters. Colleges and high schools must stop in-person learning and move to a remote-only format, while K-8 schools are allowed to remain open if stringent precautions are in place. The order will last for three weeks.
According to the press release, college and professional sports “meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation” are allowed to continue without spectators, but other club or high school sports must temporarily stop.
Nov. 12: COVID-19 investigations and contact tracing are likely to be delayed with cases and hospitalizations “growing exponentially,” according to a Washtenaw County Health Department statement Thursday.
“With the surge in cases and related hospitalizations, we cannot get to all situations as quickly as we’d like,” Washtenaw County health officer Jimena Loveluck said.
The Health Department said it is now prioritizing case investigations for children, seniors and individuals at higher risk. University of Michigan students are not specifically listed as a prioritized group unless they meet one of the other specifications.
Loveluck said all individuals who test positive or have been potentially exposed should isolate and quarantine.
“Don’t wait for a call from the Health Department,” she said. “At this point, we all know we should be staying away from others if you tested positive, have symptoms, are waiting on test results, or are a close contact.”
The county is reporting 133 new cases and 9 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours. Of the 1,010 new cases reported in the last two weeks, 33% are among people 30 to 64 years old and 7% are 65 years old and older. Additionally, the majority of cases are no longer associated with younger adults.
The University of Michigan is offering departure testing through its Community Sampling & Tracking program to all students leaving campus for the upcoming break, according to an email sent to students enrolled in the program. Asymptomatic individuals without a close-contact exposure to COVID-19 qualify for testing under this program.
“The University of Michigan advises all students to practice enhanced social distancing and be tested before they leave campus to promote safety by reducing the likelihood of students infected with COVID-19 returning to their permanent residences and surrounding communities,” the email said.
Students can sign up for a testing slot here.
A number of COVID-19 clusters involving professional and graduate students were identified from social gatherings during Halloween week, according to a Nov. 10 update to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard.
"The students are in isolation and those identified as close contacts are now under quarantine," the update said.
As of Thursday morning, the University reports 353 positive cases in the last 14 days. The University’s quarantine and isolation housing has risen slightly to 19.0% occupancy compared to last week’s figure of 16.2%, according to updates posted on the COVID-19 dashboard. There are 62 COVID-19 positive patients currently admitted to Michigan Medicine, according to the hospital’s website.
Plans for the winter semester at the University of Michigan will be significantly different from the fall reopening plan that earned the school a heavy dose of criticism and eventually culminated in a temporary stay-in-place order for undergraduates.
Graduate student Jeffrey Grim’s last moments with his grandparents consisted of Zoom calls and waiting outside their room in the hospital. Despite following public health guidelines, both of Grim’s grandparents, Jacob and Doris Bender, contracted COVID-19 this summer.
“The hardest part was not being able to do anything,” Grim said.
As the University of Michigan prepared to enter a stay-in-place order two weeks ago in hopes of curbing the spike in COVID-19 cases on campus, some resident advisers reached their breaking point.
Washtenaw County Health Department will not extend the stay-in-place order issued on Oct. 20 for undergraduates at the University of Michigan, according to a Monday press release. The two-week mandate will expire at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
Oct. 29: The University of Michigan has adopted new provisions to its disciplinary policy for students who violate COVID-19 safety regulations, Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon said in a Thursday email to students.
“Prioritizing our community’s well-being, U-M staff will be increasing safety patrols and intensifying responses to first-time social gathering violations in the residence halls, which may include immediate parent/family notification, housing contract terminations and other disciplinary measures,” the email read.
The University will also increase enforcement of off-campus behavior. Interim measures, including suspensions, are being considered for students who host high-risk social gatherings during the stay-in-place order, according to Harmon. Student organizations could also lose U-M recognition for violating the group-gathering expectations.
Harmon emphasized that the University is intensifying its response to first-time offenders.
The Michigan football team is set to play Michigan State University Saturday, Oct. 31.
Oct. 29: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services revised and extended its epidemic order ahead of Halloween weekend on Thursday, reducing the maximum indoor gathering size from 500 to 50 people. Indoor tables are now restricted to a maximum of six people in bars, restaurants and social events outside of private homes. The announcement comes as the state has seen rising COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates over the past month.
Oct. 21: With 33 new deaths, the state of Michigan is reporting its highest daily COVID-19 death rate since June 6.
Oct. 20: The spike in COVID-19 cases among University of Michigan students isn’t the result of in-person classes, but of social gatherings that violate public health guidelines, school leaders said at a panel Tuesday. Read the full story here.
The Washtenaw County Health Department issued a stay-in-place order for University of Michigan undergraduate students Tuesday to curb outbreaks of COVID-19. It will take place effective immediately and last until Nov. 3 at 7 a.m.
Undergraduate students, both on and off-campus, must stay in their residence unless attending class, accessing dining services or carrying out approved work that cannot be done remotely. Students who wish to return to a primary residence may do so only if they have completed the University’s procedures for leaving campus safely.
Oct. 20: The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing has told sophomore students that they are not to attend in-person classes for two weeks. Nursing students confirmed to The Daily that the announcement applies to sophomores only.
While attendance of in-person classes is prohibited, these students are still allowed to attend nursing labs.
Oct. 18: All students living in Mary Markley Residence Hall and staff members at the dorm were told not to attend in-person classes and were asked to follow enhanced social distancing for the next 14 days after pop-up testing identified 17 new cases on several floors, according to an Oct. 17 COVID-19 cluster notification.
“Due to the high prevalence of cases in Markley and the lack of cooperation from a high proportion of residents who have still not participated in mandatory testing-- thus increasing the overall risk for residents -- we are taking additional immediate measures to protect all Markley residents and prevent further spread of COVID-19,” the notification said.
Oct. 17: ‘U’ will put students in quarantine and isolation in buildings with regular residents
All designated spaces in vacant buildings for temporary quarantine and isolation housing in Northwood Apartments and Baits II Residence Hall are now occupied, according to an Oct. 16 email from Michigan Housing.
In response, the University of Michigan will now house students who have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 in buildings with regular term residents. The University indicated that this was possible in September, and has put the units to use to “respond to emerging needs” as cases on campus rise.
“These additional rooms are part of the university's overall inventory of quarantine and isolation housing spaces,” the email reads.
Quarantine and isolation housing occupancy more than doubled last week. The COVID-19 dashboard says that occupancy is currently at 50% with 300 students in the temporary housing.
As of Friday, more than one thousand cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since move-in and quarantine housing is at 46% capacity, according to the University of Michigan’s COVID-19 dashboard. This comes less than two months after move-in and the start of classes.
Oct. 15: Quarantine housing occupancy continues to rise
The University of Michigan’s quarantine and isolation housing has risen to 41.5% occupancy. This is an increase from 33.2% on Wednesday.
University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen said the increase is “from students from Markley that have been placed into Q/I housing.”
The University lists a projected 80% capacity as a metric that could prompt “further responses and strategies regarding campus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.” These potential actions could include increased testing, more social distancing requirements and a campus density reduction.
There are currently 126 students in isolation who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 123 in quarantine who have been exposed to the virus or are awaiting a test result, according to the COVID-19 dashboard.
The Daily has uncovered a previously unreported cluster of COVID-19 cases connected to fraternity and sorority life on campus after a party between members in two houses.
The Chi Omega sorority had a cluster of COVID-19 cases and went on lockdown after members of the sorority attended a joint party with Delta Chi, a disaffiliated University fraternity, according to four Panhellenic Association sorority members.
Oct. 14: New COVID-19 cluster in Mary Markley, rise in quarantine and isolation housing occupancy
A new cluster of COVID-19 cases was identified in Mary Markley Residence Hall on Tuesday. The new cases were identified in part through pop-up testing following a previous cluster reported on Oct. 6.
Additionally, the University’s quarantine and isolation housing has risen to 28.8% occupancy, up from 22.7% on Monday.
The Markley cluster is on the third floor, where 12 positive cases were discovered. This is the ninth cluster reported in University Housing. All positive cases and close contacts have been moved or are currently in the process of moving to quarantine or isolation.
Oct. 12: The University of Michigan’s quarantine and isolation housing is now at 22.7% occupancy, according to an update posted on the COVID-19 dashboard. There are 56 people in isolation housing who have received a positive test result, and 80 people in quarantine housing who have been exposed to the virus or are awaiting a test result.
Earlier on Monday, the dashboard briefly reflected that quarantine and isolation occupancy had reached 42.7%. The University said this was the result of a “data entry error causing a number of records to be counted twice.”
The dashboard reports 148 positive test results for the week Oct. 4 as of Monday evening.
The Washtenaw County Health Department alerted the public Monday afternoon to a possibility of exposure at two Ann Arbor restaurants, Brown Jug on S. University Ave. and Chapala Mexican Restaurant on N. Main St. Anyone who was at Brown Jug from Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 6 and Chapala on Oct. 1 should quarantine and monitor for symptoms.
Currently, 13 cases are linked to the two restaurants, not including six positive cases from Brown Jug back in August.
Two new clusters of COVID-19 cases were reported in West Quad Residence Hall and South Quad Residence Hall. The clusters were identified through pop-up testing that was conducted in response to clusters reported on Oct. 6.
The West Quad cluster is on the third and fourth floors, where pop-up testing discovered 10 additional cases. The South Quad cluster is on the fifth floor, where six new cases were identified.
As of Tuesday, there were four reported cases on the fifth floor of South Quad with symptom onset in the last 14 days. At West Quad, there were nine reported cases on the third and fourth floors, while Markley had 11 on the fifth and sixth floors.
Here’s a link to the University’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard for the latest on-campus data.
The Washtenaw County Health Department announced a set of public health orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the area. The orders come after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had no authority to extend the state’s emergency orders past April 30.
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Friday afternoon, saying she did not have the authority to extend executive orders related to COVID-19 precautions past April 30. This ruling potentially nullifies many of Whitmer’s recent executive orders intended to curb the spread of the virus, including her Sept. 29 decision to keep the state of emergency in place until Oct. 27.
According to the ruling, Whitmer did not “possess the authority to exercise emergency powers” under the Emergency Power of the Governor Act of 1945 because this act violates the Michigan Constitution, inappropriately delegating legislative power to the executive branch. Currently, the EPGA gives the governor the ability to declare a state of emergency if necessary. The Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling will take effect on Oct. 23.
One of the University of Michigan’s metrics for reevaluating campus operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been triggered, University President Mark Schlissel confirmed coming two days after the guidelines were published online.
Schlissel acknowledged the trigger in an Oct. 2 email to faculty members concerned about the spread of the virus in the surrounding community.
“Yes, the metrics were triggered, and as per the new policy, our public health and medical advisors are discussing, based on the details of the cases and overall context, which next steps are most appropriate,” Schlissel wrote in the email obtained by The Michigan Daily. “As we stated, there are many options for interventions that must be tailored to the exact circumstances. (sic) involved.”
The University of Michigan released triggers for reevaluating campus operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, such as an outbreak of cases or diminished capacity at local hospitals. Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, University President Mark Schlissel had declined to provide a specific threshold.
According to the guidelines added to the Campus Blueprint website, the metrics “would prompt consideration of further action.” There is still “no one number that will prompt a change” to the University’s current COVID-19 strategy, the website reads.
Triggers include five days of test positivity rates above 20% based on results from both on and off-campus testing, an inability to provide effective rapid case investigation and contact tracing, diminished bed capacity or limited personal protective equipment at Michigan Medicine, among other criteria.
Though the University of Michigan provides free COVID-19 testing to symptomatic students, some asymptomatic students are opting to get tested off-campus.
University Housing has identified two more clusters of COVID-19 cases at on-campus residence halls, this time at the University of Michigan’s Mosher-Jordan and Alice Lloyd Residence Halls.
According to a notice posted online Sept. 29, 11 positive cases have been reported in Mosher-Jordan since Aug. 31, predominantly on the fifth floor of the building.
Another notice issued Sept. 29 said there have been 15 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Alice Lloyd as of then, with cases largely on the third and fourth floors.
The University of Michigan added outside testing counts to its COVID-19 dashboard on Sept. 24, more than doubling the total number of positive cases at the University since the start of the fall semester.
The total positive case count since Aug. 30, the day before the start of the school year, was 257 as of the evening of Sept. 24. On the afternoon of Sept. 23, before the University started including off-campus tests that weren’t self-reported, the dashboard reported 117 positive cases in the same time period.
The Dance Department of the School of Music, Theater & Dance will be closing its building on Central Campus following an increase in possible exposures, according to an email SMTD’s dance chair Christian Matijas-Mecca sent Monday.
Matijas-Mecca told students the dance building would close and instruction would shift online for at least two weeks.
“Over this weekend we have seen an alarming rise in the number of exposure cases within the department and we expect this number to rise further in the upcoming days,” Matijas-Mecca’s email read. “Currently we have over 10% of the dept reporting as having been exposed or quarantined and I do not want to see these numbers rise any further.”
A cluster of COVID-19 cases has been identified on the sixth and eighth floors of South Quad Residence Hall, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department. As of Thursday, there were 19 positive cases recorded.
Movie theaters and performance venues can reopen Oct. 9 in accordance with public health guidelines, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced in a Friday press release. Whitmer also altered limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings, putting a formula in place to determine capacity at different locations.
After being closed for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Michigan Department of Recreational Sports will reopen campus recreation facilities this coming Monday, Sept. 28.
When LSA junior Sam Burnstein arrived at the University of Michigan’s quarantine housing at Northwood apartments, he was underwhelmed by what he found.
“When walking into the apartments here, the whole time I kept thinking, ‘This feels like a big afterthought,’” Burnstein said. “It feels like the University had, like, two or three weeks till the school year starts and they’re like, ‘Oh, we need somewhere to put these students,’ because everything was just very haphazardly thrown together.”
In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the University has told students who test positive for the virus, are symptomatic or were in close contact with someone who tested positive to isolate or quarantine for up to two weeks.
But students in University-provided quarantine housing on North Campus have expressed concerns about what they describe as a lack of sanitation, the low quality of the meal delivery service and insufficient communication between them and the University.
The Brown Jug, a popular student restaurant and bar among students on South University Avenue, has reported at least six positive COVID-19 cases among staff since late August.
A server, who requested to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation from their employer, told The Daily six employees tested positive for COVID-19 in the past month. Both the server and the restaurant’s owner, Perry Porikos, confirmed these cases. The entire staff was then tested for COVID-19 — all tests came back negative.
As the new semester gets busier and students gather for social events and in group living arrangements, it’s likely some students will begin to feel sick. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you get treatment and don’t spread the virus to others on campus.
AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company developing a large Phase 3 trial of a COVID-19 vaccine, said it is putting the trial on hold Tuesday just one week after Michigan Medicine announced plans to partner with the company.
Thursday marks six months since the first positive COVID-19 tests were detected in Michigan. Since then, health care professionals at Michigan Medicine adapted to an unprecedented public health crisis that has tested the strength of the hospital’s resources and employees.
The University of Michigan will begin voluntary COVID-19 testing next week, with plans to reach a weekly testing goal of approximately 3,000 individuals by the end of September, University President Mark Schlissel said in an email to students September 3.
Two residents in West Quad Residence Hall who also visited South Quad Dining Hall tested positive for the virus, according to a notice from Danielle Sheen, executive director of the Environment, Health & Safety Department, which was dated Aug. 26 and taped in West Quad.
With classes for the fall term starting Monday, research labs are set to welcome students back as well. However, in adherence to social distancing guidelines, the University of Michigan Office of Research has limited research capacity to only 45 percent density during shifts, causing all undergraduate students except seniors to miss out on in-person research experience this semester.
Sworn or armed police officers will not walk and ride around campus to regulate student behavior in an “adjusted” Michigan Ambassadors program, the University of Michigan confirmed on Twitter the afternoon of Aug. 30. The change came in response to “community concerns,” according to the announcement.
University of Michigan faculty members are considering a vote of no confidence in the administration due to the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and fall reopening plan, faculty members said at an emergency Faculty Senate meeting Aug. 28.
The meeting came a few days after a July 31 memo to University President Mark Schlissel from the President’s Advisory COVID-19 Committee on Ethics and Privacy was inadvertently made public and began circulating online, sparking criticism toward University administration. The memo explicitly warned against the University’s reopening plan, and noted that the current plan would hit vulnerable populations the hardest.
In the main hallway of Markley Residence Hall is a selection of large blue move-in bins. Standing next to the bins is a portable whiteboard sign with a hand-written message: “Please wipe before & after use!” On the floor lies a tube of disinfectant wipes, empty.
This week, thousands of students are moving into University of Michigan residence halls. Students still have roommates, highly contaminable areas like bathrooms are still cleaned twice a day and social distancing is difficult to regulate in the narrow hallways.
In practice, many of the measures that the University says it’s taking are not being enforced, leaving some students confused and concerned.
There's a new step this year for those wishing to enter the University of Michigan buildings.
The University launched ResponsiBLUE, a website created to help students, faculty and staff reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus, on Monday as the school prepares for the hybrid fall semester beginning next week.
Before outbreaks of COVID-19 at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill forced the school to backtrack on offering in-person classes, UNC’s leadership provided advice to University of Michigan administrators on how to reopen.
In a May 16 email, President Mark Schlissel asked Myron Cohen, UNC’s associate vice chancellor for Global Health and Medical Affairs and a professor of epidemiology, to set aside time to discuss how students could safely return to campus. Schlissel said he was “struggling” with devising a plan to do so.
The Michigan Daily sat down with the University’s Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani to discuss what activities students can safely participate in, as well as how the University can succeed where other institutions have failed.
Four canvassing teams of two to three people — made up of students, staff, faculty, volunteers and community engagement officers from the Division of Public Safety and Security and AAPD — will walk across campus and near-campus neighborhoods seven days a week from noon to midnight. They will rove daily from Aug. 20 to Aug. 30, according to an AAPD release.
After Aug. 30, ambassadors will work Thursday to Saturday for the rest of the semester. The teams will “serve as a visible presence and reminder to students and other community members of the need to follow public health guidance.”
To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Michigan is putting together a fall semester unprecedented in the school’s history. Classes will be largely online, tables in the newly opened Michigan Union are six feet apart and everyone on campus will be wearing masks.
Students and faculty aren’t sure what to expect, and many questions remain unanswered with two weeks to go before classes start.
The Michigan Daily asked University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald about COVID-19 outbreak scenarios, testing and tracing, behavior enforcement, facilities and housing. Here’s what we do and don’t know about the University’s plans to bring students back to campus.
As universities across the country reverse from in-person to completely remote instruction for the fall, University of Michigan students say they can see the writing on the wall: the in-residence, hybrid semester expected to start later this month won’t last.
Students first expressed concern about the upcoming fall semester when the announcement for an in-person fall was made in June. While many said they were initially happy to hear that the University was planning to bring students back, they feared that the plan would not hold and the administration was placing profit above student safety. In April, the University said it estimated financial losses of between $400 million and $1 billion due to COVID-19.
After a meeting on Tuesday morning, Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors voted to postpone fall sports.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
Men's and women's soccer and cross country, field hockey, volleyball and football will all be affected by the decision.
After months of being shut down, bars and restaurants in Michigan had been allowed to reopen for indoor service with limited capacity on June 8. Now, establishments that earn more than 70 percent of their gross receipts from alcohol sales must again shut down their indoor service.
Over the past several weekends, students have taken to social media to express concern about a significant increase in the number of people in Ann Arbor as students start to move back and go out to restaurants and bars.
While many University of Michigan students use the summer months to gain experience from internships and jobs, others engage in various research projects across campus to gain critical skills for career development. But in a matter of weeks, those plans to participate in cutting-edge research at the No. 1 public research university in the U.S. were halted as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all non-essential in-person research activity.
On June 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order, allowing bars and restaurants to reopen on June 8 for dining at 50 percent capacity. The next day, Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution closing some main streets in the city like East Liberty Street, South State Street and South University Avenue from 2 p.m. on Fridays to 8 p.m on Sundays to enable restaurants to expand outside dining.
Though COVID-19 rates are decreasing in Michigan, many business owners are still taking safety and health precautions when interacting with customers such as wearing gloves and masks, consistently sanitizing surfaces and limiting customer capacity.
On May 16, University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel announced in an email to the University community that laboratory research will begin to resume, citing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2020-90 Executive Order which allows research activities with some limitations.
“As the largest public research university in the nation, this is a significant development for our state and our university as we continue to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic,” Schlissel wrote. “We’re beginning to see how certain activities can resume in a public health-informed manner, while also understanding that work will be very different in the months ahead.”
On May 7, directors of the 2020 Ann Arbor Art Fair announced the event would be canceled due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 61st annual fair was to be held July 16-19. According to a press release, the directors began planning for the 2021 fair and are determined to keep the momentum for the event rolling into next year.
The fair typically hosts more than 1,000 artists and 500,000 attendees from across the country.
On Friday, a caravan of approximately 100 cars drove across Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to disrupt traffic and protest the exploitation of undocumented immigrants in essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Movimiento Cosecha, a nonviolent national movement advocating for the respect and protection of undocumented immigrants’ rights, organized the protest as part of a nationwide movement.
Movimiento Cosecha published a national press release arguing for the federal government to take greater action to protect undocumented essential workers and immigrants who have put their lives in danger to work in essential businesses.
Kyle VanKoevering, assistant professor of otolaryngology, and his research team used 3D printing technology to develop a device that can support multiple patients on a single ventilator. The vent-splitter works by adjusting and monitoring pressures according to the needs of each patient on the same ventilator.
In a press release Wednesday night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of the Futures for Frontliners program to provide essential workers a tuition-free pathway to a college degree or technical certificate to support those working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the Republican-controlled legislature denied an extension of the emergency and disaster declaration set to expire April 30 at midnight, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed three new executive orders to continue Michigan’s state of emergency and disaster.
The new orders will be in effect through May 28.
At a press conference Friday morning, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced an executive order extending Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order through May 15. The new order requires residents to wear homemade face coverings — such as scarves, handkerchiefs or clothes — in enclosed public spaces, including grocery stores and pharmacies. Whitmer said while face covering is crucial to protecting the public and critical employees, no one will be subject to criminal penalty for not wearing one.
More than 100 members of the Senate Assembly met informally over Zoom on April 20 for the final meeting of the academic year. Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, joined the call to update the Assembly members on the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This discussion followed a statement released about the University’s financial status and changes they are implementing to address the financial gap and other challenges arising from COVID-19.
Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, released a statement on April 20 regarding the University’s financial situation. According to Schlissel, the University is expected to lose between $400 million and $1 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a press conference the afternoon of April 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of a task force dedicated to addressing racial disparities in COVID-19 related deaths. 40 percent of reported coronavirus deaths in the state are Black residents, though Black people make up only 14 percent of the state’s total population.
Washtenaw County has more than 700 cases of COVID-19 as of this week. While residents who identify as African American or Black make up 12.4 percent of the county population, 48 percent of hospitalized cases are residents who identify as African American or Black.
“Was supposed to” seems to have become one of the most commonly used phrases of this semester.
The Prison Creative Arts Project was supposed to put on an exhibition of prisoner art from mid-March to early April. Shift, a creator space for University of Michigan students, was supposed to have a project showcase. The Michigan Journal of International Affairs was supposed to print and distribute their journal.
Yet in spite of a global pandemic and unprecedented changes to daily life, all three of these student organizations, along with other groups across campus, found ways to modify their plans to finish out the semester.
Thousands of disgruntled Michiganders descended on downtown Lansing the afternoon of April 15 to provide a new soundtrack to dissent amid a global pandemic: the blaring horn. Lines of cars and trucks miles long stopped traffic on the streets surrounding the Michigan State Capitol as part of “Operation Gridlock,” a protest organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 stay-at-home executive orders.
Approximately 20 health care workers gathered in front of the University of Michigan Hospital on April 15 as part of a national rally to demand support for hospital staff. They were joined by about 50 other supporters driving by with posters and signs.
Research leadership from across the University of Michigan held a virtual town hall April 14 with updates about the research operations during the coronavirus pandemic. Held via Zoom, the panel included moderator Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research, and four other speakers. More than 100 questions were submitted to the panelists.
As part of its effort to curb the impact of COVID-19, the federal government shipped more than 700,000 surgical masks to the state of Michigan last week from its stockpile. Michigan Medicine received 22,000 of those masks, but they are defunct, the Detroit Free Press reported on April 14.
Click this link to see which Ann Arbor businesses are seeking support through GoFundMe, and which restaurants are offering takeout and/or delivery.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., announced Friday that colleges and universities with campuses in Michigan’s 12th district will receive more than $66 million in emergency grants to cover “significant” financial losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Half of the funding to institutions must be distributed to students in the form of emergency cash grants to help students pay for food, housing and other basic necessities.
At least three Meijer store locations across the state of Michigan have had team members test positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from the organization yesterday. Among these are store locations in Grandville, Cedar Springs, and Ann Arbor, Mich.
28 Michigan Medicine employees have been tested for COVID-19 and 110 of those tests have come back positive as of April 6, according to a press release from Michigan Medicine.
The coronavirus pandemic hit when rising rent prices and an increase in development across the city were already putting a strain on local businesses. In 2018, 18 businesses closed, with most closures affecting businesses that had been open for more than 25 years. Rent prices also soared in the past year, leaving business owners struggling to pay their employees at rates that would allow them to reside within city limits.
But the pandemic and subsequent executive orders have placed local businesses in a unique situation, leaving many to rely on community support in order to meet their rent and pay employees.
On March 23, University President Mark Schlissel notified the University of Michigan community that spring and summer terms classes would be conducted remotely. Despite the move to continue online instruction, tuition for the spring/summer terms will remain the same, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told The Daily.
Michigan Medicine nurses at high risk of contracting the virus have had different experiences navigating the risk of caring for patients versus returning to work, with some struggling to obtain COVID-19 testing.
As the spread of the novel coronavirus forces businesses across the state to shut down and residents to shelter in place, many people have been laid off, leaving them struggling to pay rent and other bills.
Following Michigan’s “state of disaster” declaration, on April 2 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-35 ordering all K-12 school buildings to close for the remainder of the school year. District facilities are open to use by public school employees and contractors if safe social distancing is practiced.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., hosted her weekly telephone town hall on April 1 to talk about the coronavirus outbreak and answer questions from constituents. She spoke alongside health care professional Kimberly Wisdom, senior vice president of Community Health & Equity and chief wellness and diversity officer at Henry Ford Health System, and Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.
Michigan Medicine presented projections on how social distancing will impact the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at its peak and noted plans to convert an indoor track facility into a field hospital during a virtual press conference on the afternoon of March 31.
With businesses temporarily closing and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order, many students’ on-campus jobs have been left in limbo.
Each month, The Michigan Daily sits down with the University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel to discuss important questions about University policy, commitments and challenges. This month, the interview was conducted virtually. Topics discussed in this month’s interview included COVID-19, sexual misconduct allegations against faculty and GEO bargaining.
University of Michigan students with meal plans will be reimbursed for meal credits lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an email sent to The Daily by University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. The announcement comes nearly two weeks after the University announced dining halls would be moved to take-out only.
Following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order requiring all “non-essential” businesses to cease operations and residents to stay home, Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, notified the community in an email on March 23 that spring and summer term classes will take place remotely through online platforms.
All undergraduate courses at the University of Michigan will transition to an alternative grade policy, according to an email sent to students from Acting Provost Susan Collins on March 20. In place of a letter grade, students will now receive a “Pass” or “No Record Covid” on their permanent transcripts.
Campus organizations supporting political campaigns — whether in support of national, state or local politicians — have put in effort in trying to get their candidates elected by connecting to voters face-to-face. But now traditional methods of campaign mobilization have been either upended or called off due to the recent outbreaks of COVID-19, a pandemic sweeping the U.S. and the rest of the world.
All students living in University of Michigan residence halls must leave campus unless they fill out a request to remain in housing, according to an email sent to everyone still living on campus Tuesday afternoon. If their request is approved, the email notes, they are not guaranteed to continue their current housing assignment and may have to move to a new building.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Monday morning closing all Michigan restaurants, bars and entertainment venues in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order goes into effect at 3 p.m. on Monday and the restrictions will last until March 30.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order Monday morning in response to COVID-19. The order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24 and requires all businesses deemed “non-essential” to suspend their operations until further notice.
Minutes before the March 16 Ann Arbor City Council meeting, Mayor Christopher Taylor declared a local state of emergency regarding the current COVID-19 situation.
Beginning March 17, all city of Ann Arbor buildings and non-critical services will be closed until April 5.
A confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Vic Village-North student apartment building on Central Campus was announced by the leasing office in an email to residents Friday afternoon. It is the first case to be discovered at either student on-campus or off-campus housing at the University of Michigan, though it remains unclear if the individual is a student.
The University of Michigan is suspending all study abroad programs effective immediately and asking all students to return to the United States by March 20, according to an email from Rachel Reuter, Center for Global and Intercultural Study health and safety adviser, sent Thursday.
The University of Michigan announced the decision to cancel in-person classes three days after students returned from Spring Break, initiating a wave of uncertainty and concern.
The University of Michigan announced on Wednesday all classes on all three campuses will be held online beginning March 16 through the end of the semester, April 21, in response to the COVID-19 virus. Classes on Thursday and Friday will be canceled. However, the University will remain open, including dorms and dining halls.
One of the two people confirmed to have COVID-19 in the state of Michigan by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday night is an inpatient at Michigan Medicine, according to an update from Michigan Medicine.
Two cases of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease have been diagnosed in Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency on Tuesday night.
Amid concerns about health with the rise of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, University of Michigan students have altered travel plans for spring break.
Since the University of Michigan issued a travel restriction on Jan. 27 for the entire country of China due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, all undergraduate and most graduate student travel to China has been prohibited and many study abroad programs have been canceled. The University’s travel ban specifically discourages any “non-essential” travel to China for students, faculty and staff and has affected all spring and summer study abroad programs affiliated with the Center for Global and Intercultural Study.
COVID-19 numbers around the state:
Here is a link to two interactive COVID-19 data graphics, and here is a link to get more county data in the state of Michigan. One tracks the current case and death count in Michigan by county. The other tracks the case and death count over time. Hover over the graphs for more information.
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