Staying informed: Michigan Tech Thursday town halls cover wide range of pandemic-related topics


Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — COVID-19 has impacted millions of people across the globe.

From China, to Europe, the United States, Michigan and right down to the Upper Peninsula, the coronavirus is present and has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

That’s why Michigan Technological University is working to inform U.P. residents about the virus through the “U.P. COVID-19 Community Town Hall Series,” a virtual 12-week program organized by MTU’s Health Research Institute and Center for Educational Outreach.

The series started with the first town hall on Sept. 3. The town halls take place Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Each town hall focuses on a different aspect of COVID-19 and the public is encouraged to tune in via Zoom, Facebook Live and Keweenaw-area radio station 97.7 The Wolf.

“The goal of the town hall series is to increase awareness about COVID-19 and how it impacts health and society,” Dr. Steven Elmer, associate professor in MTU’s Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, said in a news release. “Viewers from across the Upper Peninsula have tuned in. Some of the weekly topics discussed so far include the role of public health in protecting the community, virus transmission, testing, tracing and vaccines, and acute care of hospitalization of COVID-19.”

Elmer is one of the moderators for each of the town halls, along with Dr. Kelly Kamm, assistant professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology at MTU.

Elmer and Kamm are joined by clinicians, public health officials, researchers and community experts each week to discuss a range of COVID-19 topics and answer any questions the public may have.

Last week’s town hall was titled “How to Stay Physically Active during the Pandemic,” and guests on the panel included University of Michigan family and sports medicine physician Dr. Keri Denay, U.P. Health System-Portage health and fitness manager Angela Luskin and Steve Short, physical therapist for the Denver Nuggets.

“An important message was to find simple ways to ‘move more and sit less’ because exercise is one of the best forms of medicine to promote good health, prevent disease and bolster immune function,” organizers said in the release. “Additionally, the audience was encouraged to follow the four W’s, wear a mask, wash hands, watch your distance and walk to stay active.”

MTU graduate student Jamie Phillips also joined last week’s panel to introduce “UP and Moving,” a program Phillips and his colleagues created which aims to help U.P. and northern Wisconsin residents stay active throughout the pandemic through a free virtual exercise series.

The next town hall is scheduled for today at 7 p.m. and will cover the “Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health.”

Joining the panel this week will be Leslie Griffith, outpatient program director for Copper Country Community Mental Health, MTU director of student health and well-being Dr. Amber Bennett, MTU assistant professor in cognitive and learning science Dr. Kevin Trewartha and one additional community guest.

Other upcoming topics include “Teaching and Learning” on Oct. 29, “How to Work Safely and Productively” on Nov. 5, “Michigan Tech Response to COVID-19 and Student Involvement” on Nov. 12, “COVID-19 Impact on Economics” on Nov. 19 and “COVID-19 Exacerbation of Health Disparities” on Dec. 3.

To download and view previous town halls, a schedule of the remaining town halls and links to view or listen to the remaining town halls, visit www.mtu.edu/health-research/covid19townhall/.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.


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