WWJ In Depth: Coronavirus In Michigan — How Are We Dealing?

WWJ News
March 25, 2020 - 2:38 pm

On this episode of In Depth from WWJ, host Rob St. Mary takes a look at how teachers, parents, and the blood bank are holding up during the coronavirus outbreak while a Detroit area writer highlights a novel about rabbits that can give us something to think about in these times of uncertainty. 


Governor Whitmer closed all public schools until April 13th through an executive order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. 

Since then, the Rochester Community Schools has been working to get lessons to student and technology to families that need them.  

"We've handed out over a thousand Chromebooks. The way we came across those (laptops) is that last week we dismantled all of our mobile (computer) labs in our schools so we could have those available to our community," said Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner. 

As for parents, Maria Miceli in the Rochester schools said "I'm on the keep it easy side of things. The kids have gone through a lot and social-emotional wellness is a huge focus for the district and PTA over the past few years." 

Shaner seconds that when it comes to this time and the kids. "We look at everything through a trauma informed lens," said Shaner.  

During these times, the superintendent of the Rochester district said he's focused on trying to keep students fed with pick-up meals and education, even as he knows remote learning is not a replacement for traditional classroom instruction at this time. 

If anyone in the district needs assistance and would like to know more are welcome to connect through the Rochester Community Schools website at https://www.rochester.k12.mi.us/.


For those looking to volunteer during this time of crisis, the American Red Cross says your blood is deadly need. 

Over 2,700 blood drives across the county have canceled since COVID-19 started to ramp up. That means the Red Cross has about 87,000 fewer units of blood to send along to local hospitals to help people in of transfusions due to accidents, surgeries or other procedures. 

American Red Cross Spokesman Todd Kulman said blood drives are still taking place in Metro Detroit and at Red Cross facilities. Distancing and cleanliness procedures are in place keep try and keep the virus from spreading to or from donors and the staff at Red Cross drives.

"We're checking folks temperatures before they enter the blood drives to make sure they're healthy. Hand sanitizer is being used everywhere at our drives," said Kulman. 

Those who are healthy and would like to donate can make an appointment through the American Red Cross website at 


Great art gives you something to consider - whether its your first time engaging with it or returning again years later. That's the case for Detroit area writer Kathe Koja who recommends Richard Adams's novel "Watership Down" - a book she first read decades ago and has pulled off the shelf again in recent days as we find ourselves battling the coronavirus pandemic. 

The plot concerns a warren of rabbits that find themselves under some outside threat, their lives are disrupted, and they must figure out how to build the future. 

"It is comforting because they are facing adversity... facing, in fact, kind of what we are - their world and their way of doing things is ending. It's the end of the world, in that sense... and they are meeting that straight on," said Koja. 

While the story has been adapted twice, the first as a feature film in 1978 and the most recently as a miniseries by Netflix in 2018, Koja said the novel is a hard one to do justice. 

"Watership Down" is available in various formats online where ever books are sold. You can learn more about Kathe Koja's work, including her second set of short stories coming soon, at her website: https://kathekoja.com/.