The Daily’s latest coronavirus coverage

Saturday, March 28, 2020 - 2:46pm

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Design by Alec Cohen

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a hectic news cycle. For the latest University of Michigan and Ann Arbor news on coronavirus, check out the links to The Daily’s articles below. 

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. 



 

Here’s what you need to know: 

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.
 
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.”
 
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.
 
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.
 
Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in a University of Michigan residence hall as students move onto campus.
 
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.
 
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.

Schlissel, ‘struggling’ with how to bring undergrads back to campus, sought advice from UNC

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.

‘If there’s one big party, we’ll halt the whole semester’: Chief Health Officer discusses risk factors of social activities

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. 

U-M COVID-19 dashboard shows 13 positive cases in two weeks, quarantine housing already in use

The University of Michigan launched its COVID-19 dashboard Aug. 20 to track the number of tests and positive cases reported to University Health Service and Occupational Health Services.
 
Data from Wednesday shows there have been 13 positive cases — four students and nine non-students — reported over the past 14 days out of 695 tests for students and 611 for faculty during that time period.
 
Non-student data includes faculty, staff and alumni tested at UHS or OHS.

Ambassadors managing off-campus student behavior to begin work Aug. 20

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.” 

With two weeks until classes start, what exactly fall semester will look like is unclear

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.

Bars in Michigan are again prohibited from offering indoor services

As the state confronts an uptick in new cases of COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Wednesday shutting down indoor bar service for most of Michigan. 

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. 

In the absence of restrictions, students crowd Ann Arbor bars and restaurants

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. 

Undergraduate students unable to resume in-person research

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.

Ann Arbor businesses plan reopenings amid COVID-19

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. 

University opens limited research

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.”

 

Ann Arbor Art Fair cancellation deals blow to local artists, businesses

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. 

 

Undocumented essential workers protest workplace exploitation, demand safe working conditions during pandemic

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.

 

'U' researchers use 3D printing to support COVID-19 response in hospitals 

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.

 

Whitmer announces essential workers get free tuition

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.

 

Whitmer extends state of emergency through May 28

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.

 

Whitmer extends stay at home order to May 15, orders face coverings in enclosed public spaces

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. 

 

Schlissel addresses Senate Assembly on pandemic response, OIE update

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. 

 

'U' freezes faculty salary, hiring as coronavirus pandemic slows revenue

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. 

 

Whitmer announces creation of task force addressing racial disparities in COVID-19 infections, deaths

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 Black Residents discuss barriers to preventing COVID-19

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.

 

Despite not being able to physically meet, student organizations carry on

“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. 

 

Protesters rally against Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders, clog downtown Lansing

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. 

 

Michigan Medicine health care workers hold rally to demand more national support

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 town hall discusses effects of COVID-19 pandemic, reopening labs

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.

 

Michigan Medicine receives 22,000 unusable masks from federal stockpile

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. 

 

Which Ann Arbor businesses are accepting donations through GoFundMe? Who is offering takeout and delivery?

Click this link to see which Ann Arbor businesses are seeking support through GoFundMe, and which restaurants are offering takeout and/or delivery. 

 

Dingell announces over $66 million in COVID relief for Michigan colleges and universities

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. 

 

Meijer employees at 3 store locations test positive for COVID-19

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. 

 

More than 100 Michigan Medicine employees test positive for COVID-19

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.

 

Amid forced closures, Ann Arbor businesses question future of local economy

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. 

 

Students, faculty question spring, summer tuition costs, quality of remote learning

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. 

 

‘I really had to advocate strongly for myself’: Michigan Medicine nurses struggle to access COVID-19 testing

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.

 

Ann Arbor residents hope for rent relief during pandemic

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.

 

Whitmer suspends in-person K-12 schooling for remainder of the school year

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.

 

Rep. Debbie Dingell talks Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order at weekly town hall

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.

 

University of Michigan preps to turn indoor track facility into field hospital

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.

 

Students lose jobs due to campus closures

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.

 

Schlissel on ‘U’ COVID-19 response: ‘We’ve adapted pretty darn fast’

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. 

 

Students to be reimbursed for unused meal plans, University says

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. 

 

Spring, summer classes to be conducted online

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 classes to be graded on Pass/No Record basis

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.

 

Campaigns adjust strategies during COVID-19 outbreak

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. 

 

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Additionally, if you find yourself missing our print edition, we put together a PDF version of our paper each Monday through Friday until April 21 to upload on our issuu.

As of April 21, the summer staff of The Daily has taken over. We will continue uploading content 24/7, and put together a PDF version of our paper every Thursday starting May 7, which will be uploaded to our issuu.