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MSU says health care grads can help; deaths rise to 259

Hassan Musselmani, left, and Andrew Quatrine hand out free meals on the eastside of Detroit on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Musselmani's food truck, The Drunken Rooster, is idle during the coronavirus pandemic, so he figured it was a good way to distribute food prepared by Rising Stars Academy, a school that specializes in culinary arts in Center Line, Mich. (AP Photo/Ed White)

DETROIT — Hundreds of new health care graduates from Michigan State University are available to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, the school said Tuesday, as statewide cases rose 17% and deaths topped 250.

State officials have made a desperate plea for health professionals, noting that a peak in cases still is a few weeks away. MSU said the state has created a temporary license for nurses who typically are required to first take a national exam.

Doctors from the colleges of Human Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine also can work ahead of their medical residencies, which start in July, MSU said.

“I’m down for it,” said Elizabeth Luea, 22, who will graduate from the nurse program. “It’s a scary reality when it’s come to the point where we have to put people out there so quickly. But I would be very willing.”

THE LATEST

A nursing home in western Michigan said 31 residents and five staff members have COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Metron of Cedar Springs is 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Grand Rapids. Two residents were being treated outside the nursing home.

“The rest remain in our care, are stable and it does not appear as if any of them are at risk to be transferred at this time,” said Paul Pruitt, operations director.

The number of coronavirus cases reported statewide reached 7,615 Tuesday, a 17% increase, while deaths rose to 259 from 184. Detroit has 27% of cases and 29% of all deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness including death.

TREATMENT

Henry Ford Health System said hydroxychloroquine, known as an anti-malaria drug, has been effective in treating seriously ill COVID-19 patients at its Detroit-area hospitals.

Dr. Marcus Zervos cautioned it’s not a “miracle cure.” But he said patients on ventilators have recovered and been discharged. No drugs have been approved as a treatment, cure, preventive medicine or vaccine for COVID-19, but hydroxychloroquine can be used in certain cases.

“I don’t want to give the impression that this is the absolute essential therapy. We’re doing what we think is best under the circumstances,” Zervos said.

NO FABRIC

Attorney General Dana Nessel told a popular craft chain, Joann Stores, that it must close Michigan locations under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order that only certain businesses remain open during the outbreak. Joann said it was selling materials to make face masks and hospital scrubs, but Nessel said those items can be sold online by the company.

CASH CALL

The state set up an online site to raise cash and match federal emergency grants. Donations will pay for food and water, education support for kids and other “essential activities.” A contribution can be made by going to www.michigan.gov/fightcovid19 and clicking donations.

TOO MUCH REC

The state closed Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County because of a “drastic increase” in visitors from across the state, despite Whitmer’s “stay home, stay safe” order.

FAITH WALK

With Catholic Masses canceled, a priest walked about 3 miles through Gwinn, a town in the Upper Peninsula, displaying the Holy Eucharist.

“I know that people, not only Catholics, need God’s blessings in this time,” the Rev. Allen Mott said Tuesday. “There were people looking out their windows. There were people in their cars. People were telling me they were crying. We’re doing it every Sunday until we’re able to go back to Mass.”

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