Washtenaw County vaccine changes; new COVID surge ‘hammers ER workers’; pandemic life at U-M

People sit in the waiting area at EMU's Convocation Center at 799 N Hewitt Rd. in Ypsilanti. (Jeremy Borton | St. Joe's)

Happy Friday!

A major story this week was the nationwide pause of all use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six women who received the vaccine experienced a rare blood clotting condition. Here in Washtenaw County, the Health Department and the University of Michigan announced how it would affect their ongoing vaccination clinics, postponing or canceling some appointments, while keeping some scheduled and switching to the Pfizer vaccine.

A Michigan Medicine blood clotting expert weighed in on the FDA and CDC’s decision to pause all use of the vaccine.

“The blood clots identified after the AstraZeneca and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine are concerning, but seem to be quite rare,” said cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist Dr. Geoffrey Barnes. “Physicians are aware of this condition and have the necessary tools to diagnose and treat patients if this very rare condition occurs.”

Have a great weekend.

- Meredith (@meredith_A4)

What’s been happening:

🚨 Physicians in Michigan Medicine’s adult and pediatric emergency departments are sounding the alarm as beds fill quickly and ages of inpatients for COVID continue to decrease during the current surge. (A4)

😷 As COVID cases rise across Michigan, the Washtenaw County Health Department is urging residents to stay vigilant in order to curb the spread. (A4)

🧪️ Ann Arbor-based COVID testing lab LynxDx has opened new saliva-based testing sites around the state. The program’s turnaround time is less than 48 hours and it is currently Michigan’s fourth largest testing lab. (A4)

🔒 The University of Michigan has locked more than 700 students out of non-residential school buildings for failing to comply with its mandatory weekly COVID testing program. (A4)

🏫 Meanwhile, Ann Arbor Public Schools announced that it is pushing back the return of students in grades 4-12 due to rising COVID cases in children. (A4)

🗣 Ann Arbor Councilmember Jeff Hayner landed himself in hot water this week for posting a homophobic slur on social media in reference to journalists. After trying to defend his actions, Hayner eventually apologized for the post after he received considerable backlash from the city’s Mayor, fellow councilmembers and members of the public. (Detroit Metro Times)

〽️ University of Michigan’s Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Robert Sellers has announced he is stepping down from his role at the end of the year. (MLive)

📝 I sat down with Sellers in 2018 when he first started the brand-new position and wrote about his journey from protesting grad student to U-M’s top diversity official. (A4)

🖌 The downtown mural depicting writer and filmmaker Woody Allen was defaced -- again -- after the airing of Allen V. Farrow, a new HBO documentary series that features interviews with Allen’s daughter, Dylan Farrow, who alleges he sexually assaulted her when she was 7-years-old. (MLive)

🚰 The state of Michigan has requested to add the Gelman dioxane plume to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund cleanup program. (MLive)

🚧 Here’s all the road construction you should know about as you make your way around town over the next week. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. (A4)

Good to know:

🌷 A new season means a new photo competition! Submit your beautiful blooms to the A4 Spring Photo Challenge for a chance to be featured on our site and in my Tuesday newsletter. Let’s see what you’ve got! (A4)

🌳 Speaking of spring, the city of Ann Arbor is giving away trees to residents to plant on private property to boost the city’s urban tree canopy. (A4)

🦎 Love nature? Like sharing that passion with others? Leslie Science and Nature Center is currently hiring summer camp educators. (A4)

🧘‍♀️ Feeling stressed out and overwhelmed by the constant isolation during the pandemic? Sarah put together this awesome list of ways to blow off your quarantine steam in A2. My favorite? No. 4. (A4)

Feature interview of the week:

“Are we doing things that we shouldn’t be doing? Sure. I can’t argue that the best thing to do would be to sit in my room and avoid all human interaction.”

- University of Michigan junior Brian Devorkin on campus life under the cloud of the pandemic

🗨 Have something to share? Write me anytime at mbruckner@wdiv.com.

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🦠 COVID WATCH: For daily COVID-19 news and analysis in Michigan, sign up for ClickOnDetroit’s Morning Report newsletter.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.