View from back of church up main aisle toward altar

Detroit Catholic LGBTQ group grapples with isolation beyond COVID-19

As Detroiters self-isolate to prevent the spread of  COVID-19, the Archdiocese of Detroit has isolated a longstanding  LGBT Catholic advocacy organization, ordering it off Catholic grounds. Bishop Gerard Battersby wrote a letter which was sent to all diocesan clergy on March 9 forbidding Dignity/Detroit gathering on archdiocesan grounds. “Dignity/Detroit has long operated its ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit while rejecting some of the church’s teachings on sexual morality,” Battersby wrote. “These teachings, though challenging, promote human flourishing and bring joy when received with open hearts. This situation is thus a source of sadness, for those who reject the teachings deprive themselves of the blessings that come with living a life in Christ.”

Dignity/Detroit, an affiliate of DignityUSA, has been active in the city since 1974.

Michigan residents package free meals for families in need

Following Michigan’s K-12 school closures and stay-at-home order, efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve presented greater challenges to food-insecure families. School districts, small businesses and organizations responded to the crisis with an abundance of free food-distribution services and support. On March 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined Lansing School District staff and volunteers including MSU professor Robert Kolt to distribute donated school supplies and sack lunches at Sexton High School. 

“It breaks my heart to think that because school is closed there might be a kid who doesn’t get to eat anything that day,” said Lansing Board of Education president Gabrielle Lawrence. 

The Lansing School District established 22 food distribution sites for students and families to receive lunches Monday through Friday during Michigan’s K-12 school closure. “I’m so proud of our district for being able to offer these food services to families as we’re going through this unprecedented crisis,” said Lawrence. 

According to Whitmer, about 750,000 children in Michigan qualified for free and reduced cost lunch this year. While school districts are not required to provide free meal programs during the state-mandated closure, hundreds of districts initiated drive-up, pickup and bus-delivery services for the remaining part of the K-12 school year. 

Angela Mercer, administrative assistant at the Van Buren Public Schools, said, “Students need structure.

Sports never stops. At least it never did.

COVID-19 has sidelined many professions including those in sports. Senior athletes in college and high school are feeling the effects as spring seasons are canceled in response to this crisis.

Senior living homes implement measures to protect residents

Signs like this are posted all around Rose Senior Living in Novi. Photo: Sophia Lada

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials and senior center care workers in the Midwest are implementing new policies and activities to best protect older adults considered at-risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. 

Approximately two and a half million older adults live in assisted living or nursing homes in the U.S., according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 776,093 cases in the U.S., resulting in 41,758 deaths, among those cases up to 11% of senior citizens have lost their life to the virus. Hospitals are taking specific precautions on older adult patients, making sure they are as safe as possible. Sydney Phipps, a scribe at Sparrow Hospital, wrote in a text about the experiences of at-risk patients.

COVID-19 disrupts hands-on training of nursing students in Michigan but veteran nurses question safety of training during crisis

Shannon Sexton is finishing up her fourth semester in Saginaw Valley State University’s five-semester nursing program. She plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in December, which means her clinical rotation and hands-on experience have shifted to virtual environments that are a less desirable learning experience. Sexton said students at SVSU aren’t allowed to assist in hospitals. “The lack of hands-on education is frustrating, especially since I’m so close to graduation,” she said via email. Her internship over the summer working on-on-one with a nurse in a hospital is now an online simulation.

Watch Focal Point: Interview with President Stanley, Spartans find new ways to stay safe, the Class of 2020 adjust to year cut short

On this special edition of Focal Point, we interview President Samuel Stanley about how the coronavirus affects Michigan State students and the university’s plans moving forward. It’s not just college students who are forced to stay home from school; meet high schoolers finding new ways to make memories their senior year. Facing shortages of protective equipment, find out how some Michiganders are adapting and finding new ways to make hand sanitizer and face masks. All those stories and more on Focal Point.

Woman applies hair coloring.

Barber shops and salons get cut during coronavirus pandemic

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statewide shelter-in-place order on Monday, March 23, ordering all “non-essential” businesses to be closed. One category of businesses deemed non-essential included barbershops and hair salons. That put state residents on their own for hair grooming for the foreseeable future.

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.

Local performance artists turn to livestreams

Deanna Acquaviva of Wyandotte, Michigan just celebrated her second year as a drag entertainer, but instead of having a commemorative show, she practiced social distancing. Because live shows are temporarily halted, she has taken to livestreaming as her performance platform. Acquaviva, an alternative drag performer aka “Baha! Blast” said via email, she mixes numerous types of drag, including queen, king, cosplays, body paint, horror and sideshow acts into one for the best possible show. A few examples of the many transformations crowds can anticipate seeing from Baha!