East Lansing and Okemos schools look to ease N95 mask shortage

Courtesy of Dean BuggiaOkemos Public Schools use 3D printers to make masks and filters that will be donated to Sparrow Health System to help ease the medical supply shortages during the COVID-19 crisis. East Lansing and Okemos school districts located in Ingham County are looking to help ease the spread of the COVID-19 virus by 3D printing N95 masks for healthcare workers on the front lines. They join Michigan State University and other local schools in replicating N95 masks. 

As of 2 p.m. April 9, Michigan had over 20,000 coronavirus cases, making it one of the top five states with COVID-19 cases. The United States has over 363,000 cases and over 15,700 deaths. 

Initial inspiration

The growing number of cases in the area forced several health care providers to run on depleted supplies of necessary PPE for doctors and nurses on the front lines, in the local battle against the virus. 

Sparrow Hospital created a donation list, filled with supplies the community can provide to help medical professionals in their open locations, including Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. 

Courtesy of Dean Buggia Dean Buggia, the Okemos High school technology teacher, estimates each mask and filter cost about $1.20 to produce. One of the items on the donation list, 3D printed N95 masks, caught the eye of both East Lansing Public School’s Technical Director Chrisitan Palasty and TinkrLAB founder and owner Melissa Rabideau. 

“So, I actually had a customer email me this project that she had seen, and I looked into it,” said Rabideau about coming across the project.

National Pancake Day at IHOP

National Pancake Day, Feb. 25, 2020, brought a lot of hungry people into IHop on 2771 E. Grand River Ave in East Lansing. Whether it was because of the free pancakes, because it was Fat-Tuesday or comfort food was a necessity after midterms, the reason IHOP celebrates National Pancake Day is to raise money for Sparrow Children’s Center.

Meridian Township Board supports Jolly Road’s diet

The Meridian Township Board voted unanimously to support the Ingham County Road Department’s road-diet plan to change Jolly Road from four to three lanes. A road diet is a technique in transportation planning where the number of travel lanes and/or effective width of the road is reduced to improve the flow of traffic. Rick Shafer, a former Traffic and Transportation Committee member said that when he first first heard about the project, he thought it seemed counterintuitive to restrict traffic to three lanes. Currently, one lane is typically used for through traffic while the other lane is used for right turns and the inner, eastbound lane is used for left turns, for example at Okemos High School and Hiawatha Elementary School. The Ingham County Road Department met with the Okemos School District to review whether the high school’s traffic flow can be improved for better overall efficiency. 

“There will still be four lanes, but they would be reassigned to how they are being used, especially at peak hours, particularly to access the high school,” said Bill Conklin, manager of the Ingham County Road Department.

Ingham County fights to reverse recent increase in homelessness

From 2007 to 2017, overall homelessness decreased nationally by 14.4 percent. Nearly 554,000 people were homeless in 2017 in the United States, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. While the overall national rate of homelessness leveled off in 2018, Michigan’s rate declined by 7.7 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Unfortunately, Ingham County’s Annual Homeless Report shows that an increase in homelessness is a common occurrence each year in this Michigan community. Ingham County, in which about 5,000 people experience homelessness each year, has not seen a decrease since 2014-15.