virus

There were 1,536 confirmed new cases of the coronavirus reported in Michigan on Monday and 12 deaths related to COVID-19.

On its website, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services notes that Monday's daily case count represents new referrals of confirmed cases to the state health department since Saturday. Over the two days, the average number of new confirmed cases is 768 per day.

On Saturday, the state health department reported 483 new cases of the virus and 15 deaths (12 were identified through a review of Vital Records). The state no longer has a daily report of the coronavirus outbreak on Sundays.

Michigan's total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began is now 117,406, with 6,665 confirmed deaths.

The Ottawa County health department added 46 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the county's total number of cases to 3,233, with 1,989 recovered and 66 deaths. Ottawa County saw six new cases on Sunday and 32 on Saturday.

The latest death related to COVID-19 in Ottawa County was a man in his 70s with underlying health conditions, the health department said. He died Sept. 17.

Muskegon County's case count is 1,456, with 69 deaths, the state health department reported Monday.

'I miss mommy': Families shattered by COVID forge new paths

(AP) — Just four months had passed since Ramon Ramirez buried his wife and now, here he was, hospitalized himself with COVID-19. The prognosis was dire, and the fate of his younger children consumed him. Before ending his final video call with his oldest, a 29-year-old single mother of two, he had one final request: "Take care of your brothers."

Before long, he was added to the rolls of the pandemic's dead, and his daughter, Marlene Torres, was handed the crushing task of making good on her promise. Overnight, her home ballooned, with her four siblings, ages 11 to 19, joining her own two children, 2 and 8.

The emotional and financial demands are so overwhelming that Torres finds herself pleading to the heavens. "Please help me," she begs her parents. "Guide me."

As the U.S. approaches the milestone of 200,000 pandemic deaths, the pain repeats: An Ohio boy, too young for words of his own, who plants a kiss on a photo of his dead mother. A New Jersey toddler, months ago the center of a joyous, balloon-filled birthday, now in therapy over the loss of her father. Three siblings who lost both mom and dad, thrusting the oldest child, a 21 year old, into the role of parent to his sisters.

With eight in 10 American virus victims age 65 and older, it's easy to view the young as having been spared its wrath. But among the dead are an untold number of parents who've left behind children that constitute another kind of victim.

Micah Terry, 11, of Clinton Township, Michigan, misses seeing his dad at his karate classes, stopping by his father's workplace, and sneaking in chicken nuggets with him at the movies. At his saddest points, he talks about him all day. But his brother, 16-year-old Joshua, grows quiet when the grief hits, channeling his feelings through the piano, which he learned to play from his father.

"My dad was my best friend," Joshua says about Marshall Terry III, who died in April. "My goal is to make him proud while he watches from heaven."

In Waldwick, New Jersey, Pamela Addison's 10-month-old son Graeme is bubbly and doesn't seem to notice his father is missing, but it's different for her daughter, Elsie. Addison sees the tot's last truly happy day as her birthday in March, when Papa bought balloons and the virus seemed a distant threat.

Martin Addison was dead a month later at 44; today, Elsie, at the tender age of 2, is in grief counseling to handle it all.

"She's having a difficult time adjusting to the fact he's not coming home," Addison says.

Four-year-old Zavion and 2-year-old Jazzmyn have been taken in by siblings after the death of their mother, 50-year-old Lunisol Guzman of Newark, New Jersey, who had adopted them when she was in her 40s. The oldest of her other three children, Katherine and Jennifer Guzman, swiftly decided to seek guardianship.

"These kids are our family," Katherine said. "For us, it was a no-brainer."

She says that Zavion and Jazzmyn are mostly resilient, but occasionally utter the same simple, heartbreaking sentence: "I miss mommy."

No authoritative count of parents of minors lost to the coronavirus has been tallied, but it appears certain to run into the thousands in the U.S. Some children are now landing in the homes of grandparents like Anadelia Diaz, whose 29-year-old daughter, a single mother of three, died of COVID-19.

"I don't call it a burden," says Diaz, of Lake Worth, Florida. "It's unconditional love."

Her 15-year-old grandson has long lived with her, but Diaz feels like a new mother again, aching from racing after two little ones – one 18 months old, another a year older – in a yard now dotted with a swing set and a kiddie pool.

She and her husband once dreamed of a vacation in Alaska; now she's had to stop working as a housekeeper and even a trip to the grocery store is an ordeal. The toddlers were used to sharing one room with their mother and, striving not to disrupt their routine even more, Diaz now sleeps in her den with them, where they wake each morning to a big picture of their mother on the wall.

Losing a daughter felt like losing part of herself. Her daughter's memory is what keeps Diaz going. She turned 56 the day she buried Samantha, and she prayed she could survive to see the children through to adulthood.

"All I ask God is for our health and for strength, nothing else," she says.

Stepping in for those who've died can be uncertain terrain.

After Ramath Mzpeh Warith and Sierra Warith married and had their first child, Ramath Jr., they settled on a division of labor: Mom would focus on classes to become an ophthalmologic assistant and handle most childcare responsibilities. Dad would work late as a Cleveland bus driver to support them.

As they awaited their second baby, though, both parents tested positive for the coronavirus and, while Ramath was mostly asymptomatic, Sierra grew sicker. After she was hospitalized, a baby boy named Zephiniah was born by C-section on May 14.

Sierra never would be well enough to hold him. She died a day before she would have turned 24.

Suddenly, he was mourning the love of his life and learning to take on all the things he relied on her to do. He took parenting classes at the hospital and his mother moved in upstairs so she could help. His 20-month-old, Junior, plants kisses on a picture of his mother and cries that he's no longer nursed to sleep or cuddling beside her in bed.

Warith, 38, knows he will one day have to sit his boys down and tell them about their mother. But for now, he's taking it day by day, trying to be the best father he can be in a forever-altered life.

"They still need a parent," he says. "They still need to be hugged and kissed and loved."

It's impossible not to think of how things were before the losses the pandemic wrought.

For Nashwan Ayram of Sterling Heights, Michigan, it was a life of staying up late and sleeping until noon, and afternoons enjoying his mother's cakes. He was used to being spoiled by his parents, used to carefree plans like a summer backpacking trip in Europe, used to a life with few responsibilities.

"I used to wake up having a full tank of gas in my Camaro," he says, "worrying about nothing."

Now, both of the 21-year-old's parents are dead of the virus, and he's left watching over two sisters he never felt particularly close to before. He's teaching 18-year-old Nadeen to drive and helping 13-year-old Nanssy with school, all while attending to daily chores like grocery shopping and weeding through a mountain of paperwork to handle his parents' affairs and become a legal guardian.

He feels anger at his parents for dying and robbing him of his carefree life. He also calls them heroes for being so brave to leave their native Iraq and build a new life in the U.S. In a weird way, he says, losing them both at once may have been easier than only losing one: Now, he knows, life can never get worse.

Ayram wishes he could return to a carefree life of partying and freedom, but knows what he must do to make his parents proud.

"It's the only thing I can do," he says. "Honestly, it's just me living for my sisters."

Europe adopts tougher virus restrictions as infections surge

LONDON (AP) — As the U.S. closed in on 200,000 coronavirus deaths Monday, the crisis deteriorated across Europe, with Britain working to draw up new restrictions, Spain clamping down again in Madrid and the Czech Republic replacing its health minister with an epidemiologist because of a surge of infections.

The growing push to reimpose tough measures in Europe to beat back a scourge that was seemingly brought under control in the spring contributed to a sharp drop on Wall Street in the morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 900 points, or 3.4%, and the S&P 500 fell 2.6%.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a round of restrictions Tuesday to slow the spread of the disease. British Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that cases are doubling every seven days, and the experience in other countries shows that that will soon lead to a rise in deaths.

The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland raised the nation's COVID-19 alert Monday from three to four, the second-highest level. Almost 3,900 new infections were reported Sunday, a level not seen since early May.

"We have, in a very bad sense, literally turned a corner," after weeks of rising infections, Whitty said.

In France, where infections reached a record high the weekend with over 13,000 new cases in 24 hours, health authorities opened new testing centers in the Paris region to reduce lines and delays. Italy added Paris and other parts of France to its COVID-19 blacklist, requiring travelers from those regions to show proof of a negative test or undergo testing on arrival.

And the Norwegian capital of Oslo banned gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes after a spike in cases and strongly urged people to wear face masks when traveling on public transportation amid a strike by bus drivers that forced many commuters to take the tram.

"The situation in Oslo is serious. This development must be stopped, and we have to do it now," Mayor Raymond Johansen said.

Police in the Spanish capital of Madrid and its surrounding towns began stopping people going in and out of working-class neighborhoods that have been partially locked down to combat Europe's fastest coronavirus spread.

Authorities said that starting on Wednesday, an estimated 860,000 residents must be able to show that their trips out of their neighborhoods are justified for work, study or medical reasons or face fines. Parks are closed and shops and restaurants in the affected zones are limited to 50% occupancy.

The targeted locations have some of the highest transmission rates in Europe. The measure has been met with protests from people who think the restrictions are stigmatizing the poor.

The German city of Munich, with one of the country's highest infection rates, will allow only up to five people or members of two households to meet, and will restrict private indoor gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings or funerals to no more than 25 people.

The Czech Republic also faces the possibility of new restrictions after the government appointed epidemiologist Roman Prymula as health minister.

In the spring, the country recorded a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases and deaths compared with hard-hit Western European countries such as Italy, Spain and Britain.

But after the government lifted most of its restrictions over the summer, confirmed cases began making a comeback and reached a record high last week. On Thursday, the day-to-day increase of new cases was higher than 3,000, almost the same number it was in the entire month of March.

Prymula said over the weekend that the loosening of restrictions was done too quickly.

Elsewhere, the U.S. was on the verge of hitting 200,000 deaths, with health authorities deeply worried about the resumption of school and college and the onset of cold weather, which will force more people indoors. A widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. death toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year.

India recorded nearly 87,000 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours. The nation of 1.3 billion people now has over 5.4 million reported cases, and within weeks is expected to surpass the U.S., which has 6.8 million reported cases. Nevertheless, the Taj Mahal reopened to tourists for the time in six months, though visitors will have wear masks and undergo temperature screening.

Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, began its first day under a tightened lockdown because of a rise in cases. Only essential businesses can remain open.

But there were glimmers of good news: All virus restrictions are being lifted across much of New Zealand with the exception of Auckland, the largest city. Health authorities reported no new infections on Monday, and the number of active cases was put 62. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said officials have "reasonable confidence we are on the right track."

And in Africa, the surge in cases has been leveling off after the continent's 54 countries joined an alliance praised as responding better than some richer countries, including the U.S. Over 33,000 deaths have been confirmed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.