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Coronavirus cluster identified on 3rd floor of University of Michigan’s Mary Markley Hall

ANN ARBOR, MI — Residents of the third floor of the University of Michigan’s Mary Markley Hall are being asked to practice enhanced social distancing after a cluster of coronavirus cases have been identified there.

A pop-up testing event and other testing have identified 12 additional positive cases on the third floor of the dorm, university officials said. And because of previous cases in the dorm, additional measures are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the building, according to a public health notice.

Residents of the third floor should not attend in-person classes and are expected to follow enhanced social distancing for the next 14 days, the notice states. This includes:

  • Monitoring their health daily by completing the ResponsiBLUE Symptom Tracker. This is a requirement for all individuals on campus daily.
  • Taking their temperature two times a day.
  • Staying in their room as much as possible and avoiding contact with others (no social gatherings).
  • Only leaving their room when necessary to obtain food, use the bathroom, or in the case of an emergency.
  • Wearing a face covering if they must leave their room. Due to increased testing for athletes, they can also leave to attend their athletic events.
  • Maintaining six feet of social distancing at all times.
  • Washing hands frequently.

In an update on UM’s COVID-19 dashboard, the university said there is no evidence of additional clusters within the building. University Health Services will provide mandatory pop-up testing throughout the week for the remaining building residents who were not previously tested in the past 14 days, the update states.

As of Oct. 9, there are 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mary Markley Hall, dashboard data shows. The only other residence halls with more cases that are listed on the dashboard are South Quad with 60 cases and West Quad with 51 cases.

Data for residence halls is updated weekly, according to the dashboard.

Since Sept. 13, UM has had 637 positive COVID-19 cases with most of those cases being tested outside the university. There have been 14 confirmed cases since Oct. 11, the dashboard says.

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Getting off-campus COVID-19 tests often easier and faster, University of Michigan students say

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HBCUs get $15 million from Gates Foundation to expand coronavirus testing

“When you look across the landscape of the country, the intent was really to have all the HBCUs participate,” said Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard. “With us being a total family of 104 HBCUs, I think we do have the capacity to cover just about everyone.”

Howard is looking to work with schools, including Morgan State and Coppin State universities in Baltimore and the University of the District of Columbia, Frederick said.

Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, also selected by the foundation to create a testing hub, will process tests for Edward Waters College, Bethune-Cookman and Florida Memorial universities — Florida’s other HBCUs — said Larry Robinson, the school’s president.

Other testing hubs announced Tuesday will be at Hampton University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Xavier University of Louisiana. Four more schools will be selected in the coming weeks, officials from foundation said.

The $15 million donation will equip the hubs with diagnostic testing supplies, lab equipment and staff.

The coronavirus tests will come from lab equipment company Thermo Fisher Scientific, through its initiative to bolster testing infrastructure on historically Black campuses. The company has donated millions to HBCUs in recent months to make testing available to students, faculty and staff.

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FAFSA completion campaigns get creative in the age of coronavirus

“We are adapting,” said Austin, a counselor with College Advising Corp., which deploys recent college graduates into high schools to guide students. “Students without reliable Internet at home may have trouble completing the form, which is a big motivation for doing a drive-in.”

Getting students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, will be no small feat this year. The pandemic has emptied school hallways where counselors can remind seniors to apply and has rendered unsafe face-to-face fairs advisers host to guide parents through the process.

The federal government, states and colleges use the FAFSA to determine need-based and some merit-based aid. Students, especially those from low-income households, miss out on billions of dollars in federal grants, work-study, subsidized student loans and state scholarships every year by failing to complete the form.

The stakes are high this year. Anemic tax revenue threatens state-sponsored scholarships just as many families find themselves grappling with job losses and furloughs. Applying early for financial aid gives students a better shot at first-come-first-serve state grants. It also means a jump-start on a process that will require a few more steps for families devastated by the recession to access the most aid.

Against that backdrop, college access groups and high school counselors are finding creative ways to reach students and their families. Some are holding FAFSA nights in parking lots with WiFi to let parents remain in their cars while advisers walk them through the application from a distance. Others are hosting virtual sessions through Zoom or beefing up websites with video tutorials and infographics for students.

“People are very concerned about so many other things right now, especially those from underserved communities,” said Shannon Grimsley, outreach program director at Get2College, a division of the nonprofit Woodward Hines Education Foundation in Mississippi. “We want them to know we’re here to get them over the finish line.”

While technology is essential for college advising this year, it can also be a formidable barrier. Poor broadband access in some of the rural parts of Mississippi has made virtual FAFSA workshops tricky as students get kicked off or screens freeze up, Grimsley said. Get2College has posted tutorials on YouTube that students can access from their smartphones and mailed fliers to students encouraging them to call with questions, but the team wanted to do more.

Grimsley said her colleague TJ Walker suggested they replicate the drive-through format health-care workers were using for coronavirus testing. Getting a generator, WiFi hotspots, mobile printers, tents and personal protective equipment will run about $1,000, Grimsley estimates. And her team is still working out the logistics of keeping a distance while looking over applications, but they have a few weeks before the event to figure it out.

Even with the technical hiccups, Grimsley said there are advantages to virtual counseling. In a normal year, her team fans out throughout the state, driving for hours to host hour-long FAFSA events. At least this year, they can hold more workshops and

Meet the Brown University economist who argues that K-12 schools aren’t super-spreaders of the coronavirus

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 26,294 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, after adding 167 new cases. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 1.7 percent, but the first-time positive rate was 5.5 percent. The state announced three more deaths, bringing the total to 1,130. There were 112 people in the hospital.

Today is supposed to be the first day of full in-person learning for every public school in Rhode Island, but it’s still unclear exactly how many of our schools aren’t quite ready to reopen.

* * *

If you’re paying close attention to education in the age of the coronavirus, you might want to check out Brown University economist Emily Oster’s piece in The Atlantic on how schools don’t appear to be the super-spreaders of the virus that some predicted.

Oster agreed to answer a few questions for Rhode Map on the research she is doing.

Q: Your research shows infection rates have been quite low among both students and staff, but do we have a sense of whether kids just aren’t the super-spreaders we thought they might be, or if all the precautions that have been taken (like staggered schedules) are helping to prevent a spread?

Oster: My guess is that it is both. Schools in our data are taking a lot of precautions (especially masks), which likely matters a lot. Based on other data (Florida, for example), we haven’t seen huge outbreaks even though they are taking fewer of these.

But this is the kind of question we hope our data can help answer. Our next big analysis task, once we pull in another round of data, is to look at changes in case rates over time and correlate them with precautions. I’m especially eager to do this by age group. It is possible that elementary school students are generally low risk, but high school students really need a lot of precautions. That’s something we can only learn with data.

Q: There’s a lot of fear that we could see a spike in cases as the weather turns colder. Do you think we have enough data to be making long-term decisions on school reopenings?

Oster: Is anything long-term these days? I hear this fear a lot and I think it’s legitimate, but it’s hard to base decision-making on it now. What I think we do need to do is be ready to pivot if we need to. This could be due to a case spike, or it could be due to fear of one.

My bigger concern in the winter is we will have too many people out with suspected symptoms and schools will have to close for some period to address this. Again, we need good testing and a plan to pivot if necessary.

Q: You sound a little bit like Governor Gina Raimondo when you write about the harm that not reopening schools can cause to students and families. How do you think Rhode Island is doing

SoftBank invests $215 million in education start-up Kahoot as coronavirus boosts e-learning

  • Norwegian education platform Kahoot announced Tuesday that it’s raised $215 million from SoftBank.
  • It plans to use the fresh funds to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions.
  • Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.



Masayoshi Son wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.


© Provided by CNBC
Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

LONDON — SoftBank has invested $215 million in Norwegian education start-up Kahoot, taking a 9.7% stake in the company, as demand for online learning platforms skyrockets during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Oslo-based firm said Tuesday it had agreed to sell 43 million new shares at a price of 46 Norwegian krone — or about $5 — per share to SoftBank. It plans to use funds raised from the deal to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions, CEO Eilert Hanoa told CNBC.

“It’s all about the general switch in mindset from digital tools being a nice-to-have additional set of features in schools and classrooms, to being maybe the most important toolkit they can use to create engagement,” Hanoa said in an interview Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, Kahoot is a game-based learning service that lets players create and take part in multiple-choice quizzes. One side of the business focuses on schools and home learning, while the other centers on corporate clients looking to make training sessions and presentations.

How the pandemic fast-tracked the multibillion-dollar education technology industry

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Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and increased demand for remote learning software. That’s grabbed the attention of investors: Microsoft, for example, invested over $1 million in U.K.-based computing start-up Kano for a minority stake.

And Kahoot is no exception, securing a $28 million round of funding in June. The company, which is listed on Oslo’s Merkur Market, has seen its shares skyrocket over 150% since the start of the year. Hanoa said the firm now plans to launch a full initial public offering on Norway’s main stock market in early 2021.

“We’ve already accumulated approximately 8,000 new shareholders,” he told CNBC. “We believe that, by doing a re-IPO on the main list on the Oslo Stock Exchange, we could extend the investor base even further.”

Shares of Kahoot shot up almost 12% in morning trading on news of SoftBank’s investment in the company. It now has a market value of 19.9 billion Norwegian krone — or roughly $2.2 billion.

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How the coronavirus pandemic will change offices in the US

  • The coronavirus pandemic has altered many sectors of commercial real estate, particularly office space. 
  • A report by Marcus and Millichap analyzed the national office outlook as of September 2020, and broke down four ways office space is on track to change long-term as a result of the pandemic. 
  • These changes include larger spaces, increased flexibility, and higher demand in suburban markets.
  • In other words, some of the hallmarks of remote working, like having a lot more room to spread out, will make their way into the office.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the office sector of commercial real estate as workers have embraced remote working on a massive scale, with little certainty about when or how that will end.

But we aren’t living through the death of the office.

A report by commercial brokerage Marcus and Millichap outlines how the vast majority of companies will still need office space to operate.

The report, which analyzed the national office outlook as of  September 2020, broke down four ways office space is on track to change long-term, post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of these changes will mirror remote work. For example, with flexibility likely to persist over the long term, remote working will focus on individual tasks and offices will be for collaboration and group meetings, require a lot more space to spread out.

1. Flexibility will remain important and office spaces will get bigger

Per the report, office space will be reimagined as many employees and firms will continue to work at least partially from home.

In fact about 37% of workers in the US could feasibly do their work from home, per the report. In addition, according to the report, a survey of office-occupying firms found that 82% will continue to allow remote work in the future, at least some of the time.

Independent work will be the focus when working remotely, and collaborative functions like meetings will be the focus for office spaces , Marcus and Millichap predicts. 

“Interior design, access to open spaces and the ability to easily reconfigure workspaces will be top priorities going forward,” the report reads.

The feel of the office space will be less like a cubicle and more like a living room, in other words. The shift in design, per Marcus and Millichap, will call for developers to add more space, a change that follows years of offices cutting down . In fact, per the report, a decade ago the typical office was 250 square feet, now it is under 200. 

2. Secondary and tertiary markets will come out on top

Expanding office space in secondary and tertiary markets was trending long before COVID-19 because of the low associated costs, according to Marcus and Millichap. 

Those areas have been weathering the pandemic relatively well, per the report, with fewer vacancies than larger markets.

“While most markets in the second quarter registered softening demand, some smaller metros remained more stable. Tampa-St. Petersburg, St. Louis and Sacramento proved

Key ways Sullivan and Hayes differ on the economy and education in the coronavirus crisis


The coronavirus crisis that continues to stifle jobs and schools across the nation is a key dividing line in the race for Connecticut’s most competitive congressional district.

A New Fairfield prosecutor trying to be the first Republican to represent the 5th District since 2006 says the direction voters wanted when they elected Donald Trump president in 2016 is the way out of the COVID-19 crisis for people in northwestern and central Connecticut.


But U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes says the correction voters wanted when they elected her and a Democratic majority to the House of Representatives in 2018 is the way to help schools in need and get the economy back on its feet in Connecticut.

Republican challenger David X. Sullivan, a retired assistant U.S. attorney, said he started out campaigning against Hayes but has wound up fighting a war against “Marxism.”



“We need to move forward to provide help to people, but we have to transition away from total dependency on the federal government,” Sullivan told Hearst Connecticut Media last week. “We want to get people back to work.”

Hayes, who first made the spotlight in 2016 as the national Teacher of the Year, said relief for jobs and schools in Connecticut’s 5th District can’t wait for the next election day mandate on Nov. 3.


“We are in a Democratic majority in the House and the bills we are passing reflect Democratic priorities, but they also reflect the priorities of the people of this district,” Hayes told Hearst Connecticut Media. “I vote for the plan that does the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people.”


Hayes’ and Sullivan’s comments came at the end of a week of virtual 5th District debates in Danbury and Waterbury, and a week of partisan debates in Washington, D.C., over a new COVID-19 relief bill that looked doubtful heading into the weekend.

An independent candidate running to make his case that the two-party system is unworkable said it’s no surprise House Democrats and Senate Republicans were $1 trillion apart about how much relief to provide taxpayers.

“We need an expansion for the unemployment compensation to add additional weeks to it, and if the country can afford it, an additional boost of $300-to-$600 per person,” said Bruce Walczak, an Independent Party candidate from Newtown who is participating in debates but is not raising money or otherwise campaigning in a traditional way.


With three weeks until the election, leading forecasters predict Hayes will be re-elected in a district where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 140,000 to 100,000. Of the minor parties, the Independent Party is by far the largest, with 6,300 registered voters in a district that stretches from Danbury to the Massachusetts border.

The X-factor is the 180,000 registered voters in the 5th District who are unaffiliated with any party.

Schools in crisis

Hayes and Sullivan

Western Michigan University coronavirus case total nearly at 600

KALAMAZOO — Sindecuse Health Center at Western Michigan University reported 87 new coronavirus cases Friday, Oct. 10, pushing the total number of coronavirus cases since students returned in August to 598.

Across four residence halls, there are currently 23 cases, university spokesperson Paula Davis told MLive on Friday. The university has not provided a breakdown of the amount of cases in each dorm, and it remains unclear exactly how many students living on-campus have been infected.

The cases reported Tuesday stem from positive test results from Oct. 2 through Oct. 7, as the school has been updating its COVID-19 dashboard with data each Tuesday and Friday evening.

Sindecuse reports results from Thursday and Friday of the week prior on Tuesday, and reports results from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the following Friday. The health center is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

So far, about 12% of the 23,363 students enrolled at WMU have been tested for coronavirus.

For now, the amount of testing is trending up, as 372 more tests were performed over the last five days than in the previous five-day stretch leading up to Oct. 1.

Vice President of Student Affairs Diane Anderson sent students an email Wednesday, Oct. 7, reminding them to remain vigilant in their mitigation strategies like hand washing, wearing a mask and properly socially distancing.

“Largely, we are seeing strong compliance across the campus community,” Anderson said. “In-person classes continue to be safe, and we thank those who have been following the rules. But, in recent days, we also have had instances in four residence halls where not all of our community members have been compliant and thus experienced the consequences.”

In the email, Anderson said the university has employed disciplinary sanctions when students have not complied with safety measures. The university said it would be removing furniture in common spaces or locking up lounges in residence halls where coronavirus spikes occur.

“At the earliest sign of any problem, consistent with our response throughout the pandemic, we will and are taking actions to eliminate the potential for exposure and spread,” Anderson said in the email.

Residents who live in a hall that has experienced a rise in cases received a separate message with information specific to their building. Anyone who may have been exposed to the virus has been contacted through the university’s contact tracing protocols, the email said.

Staff and students at Western who would like to be tested can make an appointment by calling Sindecuse Health Center at 269-387-3287, or visit the Sindecuse website to set up an appointment via the health center portal.

Also on MLive:

All over the place: Universities’ COVID-19 data has no reporting standards

Coronavirus cases surge in University of Michigan residence halls

Western Michigan University freshmen ‘rolling with the punches’ as they move in during a pandemic

7 things to know about Western Michigan University’s back-to-campus plans

Kalamazoo-area schools ‘stay the course’ to prevent COVID-19 after court ruling

How the Supreme Court ruling on COVID-19 executive orders may

University of Alabama Releases Latest Coronavirus Numbers

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama System released its latest figures regarding positive coronavirus cases on Friday afternoon, and even though there was a slight increase the overall numerous remained low on the Tuscaloosa campus. 

There were 45 new cases over the past week, and only 13 students were in isolation across all campuses. Of them, five were at UA.

Last week the Tuscaloosa campus had a semester-low 24 cases, but per the release “Officials say testing and mitigation efforts are succeeding.

System-wide, which includes UAB and UAH, there have been 2,958 confirmed cases, with 97 this past week. UAB had the most with 49. 

A total of 20 faculty and staff members tested positive on all campuses combined. 

Overall, the are 70,400 students on the three campuses, of which 1,100-plus faculty, staff and students, including clinical enterprise staff in the UAB Health System) received sentinel testing, resulting in eight positive test.

Locally, Tuscaloosa Country is up to 9,390 confirmed cases, with 109 deaths, while the state figures have remained steady of late: 142,664 confirmed cases with 2,496 deaths. 

Nationwide, coronavirus cases are on the rise again, and grew by 5 percent or more in more than 30 U.S. states last week according to Johns Hopkins data.

University of Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Oct. 9: 45 new cases, 2,578 total

Oct. 1: 24; 2, 533

Sept. 24: 48; 2,509

Sept. 17: 119; 2,461

Sept. 10: 294; 2,342

Sept. 3: 846; 2,048

Aug. 27: 481; 1,202

Aug. 24: 563; 720

Aug. 18 (pe-arrival): 158; 158

This story will be updated

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This one-minute video from Brown University charts the devastating course of the coronavirus pandemic

Programming note: There will be no Rhode Map on Monday because it’s a holiday, but we’ll be back in your inbox Tuesday morning.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 26,045 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after adding 182 new cases. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 1.8 percent, but the first-time positive rate was 6.3 percent. The state announced one more death, bringing the total to 1,127. There were 117 people in the hospital, 12 were in intensive care, and six were on ventilators.

We’re now into the eighth month of the pandemic, and it has been easy to become numb to the daily news about new infections, and sadly, the death toll. Now there’s real concern that cases are beginning to tick up again.

So how has the virus spread across the country since March?

Brown University School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha and his team have created a simple and helpful time-lapse video that breaks down the rate of cases per 100,000 for the US since March 1.

It’s worth taking a minute (literally) to watch this.

THE GLOBE IN RHODE ISLAND

⚓ House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello testified that he was ticked off when he first saw a 2016 campaign mailer in which a Republican endorsed him, but he acknowledged that he paid political operative Jeff Britt a bonus when he won the race and then tried to hire Britt again two years later. Britt is on trial for a money laundering charge in connection with that mailer.

⚓ The Bruins selected Riley Duran in the NHL Draft, but you could first seem him playing at Providence College in 2021. Two other PC players were drafted as well.

⚓ Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island president and CEO Kim Keck is getting a big promotion as she will take over the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association beginning in January. The local organization is going to hold a national search to find her successor.

⚓ Rhode Map readers have sent another round of Happy Birthday wishes to: Annie Lou Montague (99), Ava Marie Barnes (1), Travis Escobar (30), David Klepper, Elaine Coderre, Ben Chester (25), Meg Griffiths (39), Robert Salter, Darrell West, Fay Parenteau (79), Ken Block, Shirley Booth (90), Henry Dennen (17), Francesca Malerba (forever 24), Donna Cardi (67), Brian Nelson (47), Brad Dufault, Donna Cronin (76), Julia Irene Iafrate (16), Nicholas Gregory Iafrate (4), Providence Councilwoman Rachel Miller, Maura Nugent Martinelli (40), Lisa Ranglin, Christine Drumm (60), Henry Adams (21), Frank O’Donnell, Rob Hogan, Molly Kate Donnelly, Jake Scearbo, Peter McWalters, Stephen Graham, and Doreen Costa.

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