89.1 WEMU

COVID-19

John Meeker
University of Michigan School of Public Health / sph.umich.edu

The coronavirus pandemic has lead to major changes for homes and businesses, including more frequent use of chemicals and disinfectants.  While they do help, some can be dangerous to human health and the environment.  Professor John Meeker, senior associate dean for research at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, spoke with WEMU's David Fair about how best to safely use these products on "Issues of the Environment."


Lisa Wozniak
Michigan League of Conservation Voters / michiganlcv.org

Just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning, many people were still traveling.  The executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters was among them.  Upon return, Lisa Wozniak, her family, colleagues, and organization had to make significant life and work adjustments.  She discussed those changes and the growing importance of water and environmental protections as we deal with COVID-19. 


Jeanice Swift
Ann Arbor Wiki / localwiki.org

Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) was among several school districts to close their doors at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Michigan.  AAPS superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift spoke with WEMU's David Fair about adapting to unprecedented circumstances. 


Updated at 11:47 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday night designed to alleviate some of the worst effects of the swift economic downturn currently underway as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the 96-0 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told lawmakers, "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

The head of the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday that it will take much effort to get the Tokyo Olympics back on track after a decision this week to postpone the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We want to organize the best Games possible," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a conference call with reporters, adding that "this postponement will require sacrifices and compromises from all parties."

"We are confident we can put a beautiful jigsaw puzzle together and in the end have a wonderful Olympic Games," he said.

What to do with a jury summons during a pandemic? That was the question Edward Lifson faced when he opened his mail and read that he was scheduled for jury duty in Los Angeles this week. Lifson believes it's an honor and a duty to serve on a jury, but, "to be honest, I would not do it right now," he says. "If they told me I had to come in I would say no."

Eastern Michigan University

Students and faculty from Eastern Michigan University’s nursing program are stepping up to help slow the spread of COVID-19.


Across much of the nation, health care workers report ongoing, dire shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) including hospital gowns, face shields and especially respiratory N95 face masks.

President Trump says key help is on the way from the strategic reserve and from private industry ramping up production, including big shipments from 3M.

When Dr. Judy Salerno, who is in her 60s, got word that the New York State health department was looking for retired physicians to volunteer in the coronavirus crisis, she didn't hesitate.

"As I look to what's ahead for New York City, where I live, I'm thinking that if I can use my skills in some way that I will be helpful, I will step up," she says.

Coronavirus home cooking is now a part of American life.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday 39 new coronavirus cases in the state, including one young adult who attended a "coronavirus party," apparently held to flout social distancing guidelines.

"This is one that makes me mad, and it should make you mad," Beshear said of the case that occurred after the person attended a party of people in their 20s, who health officials say are as a group less vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Joe Biden is a classic retail politician — a man who loves to shake hands, give hugs, take selfies and look voters directly in the eye, one-on-one. But now he can't do any of those things.

Instead, because of the coronavirus outbreak, his campaign is grounded: no rallies, no travel. It's all virtual fundraisers, live-streamed speeches, remote TV interviews, Facebook videos and volunteer Slack channels.

The United States and China are locked in a struggle over influence and messaging about the coronavirus pandemic even as governments around the world struggle to control the outbreak.

This week, Washington claimed a small victory.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus hailed comments by China's ambassador walking back an earlier false claim in Beijing that the U.S. Army had introduced the coronavirus to its epicenter in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Updated at 2:20 a.m. ET

The Trump administration and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced early Wednesday that the White House and Senate had reached a deal for an unprecedented $2 trillion spending package aimed at propping up individuals, businesses and the nation's health care system amid the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.

White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland made the announcement at about 1 a.m. ET.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are done. We have a deal," Ueland said.

With movie theaters closed around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Brothers is postponing the openings of some of its big summer movies, including Wonder Woman 1984. It was originally set for June 5. Now, it will hit theaters on Aug. 14.

Updated at 11:35 p.m. ET

Workers in at least eight Amazon warehouses across the country have tested positive for the coronavirus, just as the e-commerce giant ramps up hiring to meet surging online sales.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is seen in February in Cleveland.

Gun shops are not essential businesses and need to close immediately, the sheriff of Los Angeles said on Tuesday.

The type of announcement has angered gun rights activists, who have promised a challenge.

Those eager to retreat into the wilderness amid the coronavirus pandemic were delivered disappointing news on Tuesday: three major national parks are now closed to visitors.

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains have shut their gates to the public.

Park officials said a crush of visitors moving through the trails was beginning to run afoul of social distancing.

About 30,000 people visited each day last week, a sharp increase from the same time last year, officials said.

The Food and Drug Administration gave an experimental medicine called remdesivir to treat COVID-19 what's called orphan drug status on Monday.

To qualify for an orphan designation, drug companies must show that their product will treat a population of fewer than 200,000 patients or that it would be unprofitable.

YouTube

If there's a sliver of a silver lining in these uncertain times, it's music — from free virtual

Feeling the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic, the National Rifle Association is planning to lay off staff and taking other cost-cutting measures in the face of "extraordinary challenges" from COVID-19, Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the NRA, announced to the group's board of directors on Monday.

The belt-tightening in response to the virus outbreak includes "the elimination of certain positions" and forcing hourly employees to work just four days a week, in addition to 20% reductions in pay for NRA staffers.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced $100 million in supplemental funding for community health centers to support the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Health centers are playing a critical role," says James Macrae, associate administrator at the federal Bureau for Primary Health Care.

Dr. Paul Farmer, professor of medicine at Harvard University, has spent three decades helping poor countries fight devastating diseases – from tuberculosis to cholera to Ebola to Zika. As co-founder of Partners in Health, he works to strengthen health-care systems in Haiti (where the group started), Malawi, Rwanda and other low- and middle-income countries, where he's seem what works – and what doesn't work – when disease strikes.

In the Philippines, Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte special temporary powers on Tuesday to manage the COVID-19 crisis that continues to surge in the country of 110 million people.

To date, there are 552 confirmed cases, and 35 deaths.

The measure granting Duterte the new powers was the first to be approved by Philippine lawmakers using Zoom, the remote teleconferencing service, and puts the country under a "state of national emergency."

As the impacts of coronavirus spread among its own membership, House lawmakers are weighing alternatives to a longtime tradition to in-person voting as they near a potential, major vote on a new emergency bill.

Pressure is growing on Chile's government to take far stronger measures to tackle the coronavirus, after officials announced on Tuesday the number of cases has risen to 922 — an increase of more than 170 in just one day.

President Sebastian Piñera last week announced a "state of catastrophe," allowing him to deploy the military to safeguard Chile's critical infrastructure and supply lines. Borders are closed to nonresident foreigners, and a nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. began on Sunday.

The rate of new coronavirus cases in New York is "doubling about every three days" and is speeding up even more, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. "That is a dramatic increase in the rate of infection."

The new estimates are "troubling and astronomical numbers," the governor said. He added that the apex of the curve of rising coronavirus cases in New York is still 14 to 21 days away, according to the latest projections. The governor also said New York is in urgent need of ventilators and other vital resources.

Gretchen Whitmer
State of Michigan / michigan.gov

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 is the first full day of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order mandating that people stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

89.1 WEMU’s Lisa Barry talked with the governor about the order and her expectation for more confirmed cases in the state.


Updated at 7:35 p.m. ET

In his Tuesday afternoon briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump couched earlier comments about the need to reopen the U.S. economy within weeks, emphasizing that the decision would ultimately be data driven and made in consultation with public health experts.

The president said he still wants Americans working again by Easter Sunday, something he first said during a virtual town hall with Fox News earlier in the day. But he was much more circumspect over whether that would be possible from a medical standpoint.

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