Robin Erb

Robin Erb, who leads health coverage for Michigan Health Watch, believes it is our personal stories that keep us connected on common ground, whatever the break-neck fragmentation of a digital world. A long-time journalist, Robin previously spent six years at the Detroit Free Press chronicling the fight against —and sometimes the triumph over— our most horrific diseases. Her award-winning stories chronicled the battle over the Affordable Care Act, state expansion of Medicaid, cutting-edge research led by Michigan’s hospitals and universities, deadly mistakes and extraordinary care in Michigan’s nursing homes, and a nearly forgotten mix-up of chemicals in cattle feed in the 1970s and its lingering effects today. She holds bachelor’s degrees in communications and political science from Miami University and a master’s in organizational leadership from Lourdes University (Toledo, Ohio). You can contact Robin at rerb@bridgemi.com or 734-725-1155.

Articles

Coronavirus outbreaks force mandatory quarantine at 23 MSU frats, sororities

Coronavirus outbreaks force mandatory quarantine at 23 MSU frats, sororities

September 14, 2020 | Ron French, Robin Erb

Saying an upswing in COVID cases is “quickly becoming a crisis,” Ingham County health officer orders lockdown on 30 frats, sororities and other big homes. The mandatory order comes after the health department recommended voluntary quarantines for some 38K students.

Outdoor visits now ‘expected’ at Michigan nursing homes, state says

Outdoor visits now ‘expected’ at Michigan nursing homes, state says

September 10, 2020 | Robin Erb

Michigan health officials announced that nursing homes may find ways to allow loved ones to meet with residents under certain conditions. The state also may soon approve a provision that allows family members to volunteer in homes.

Xavier DeGroat will not be stopped. Michigan autism activist goes to D.C.

Xavier DeGroat will not be stopped. Michigan autism activist goes to D.C.

September 8, 2020 | Robin Erb

DeGroat’s bulldog persistence has yielded bipartisan legislation in Lansing and a network of powerful backers. 

Michigan colleges pass 1,000 COVID cases. Apparently, students like to party.

Michigan colleges pass 1,000 COVID cases. Apparently, students like to party.

September 8, 2020 | Ron French, Robin Erb, Mike Wilkinson

Strict health protocols on campuses aren’t stopping the spread of coronavirus. With cases rising fast, some experts fear more a wave of deaths, but others say aggressive testing and quarantining could prevent the worst from happening.

Whitmer’s ‘real-time’ school coronavirus outbreak data could be a week old

Whitmer’s ‘real-time’ school coronavirus outbreak data could be a week old

September 8, 2020 | Ron French, Robin Erb

Michigan will begin listing schools with outbreaks Monday, but disclosure is bogged down by testing delays and reporting lag times. Some fear the information will be so dated, it could be of little use to parents.

Quesadillas, Netflix and silence in Central Michigan’s ‘COVID dorm’

Quesadillas, Netflix and silence in Central Michigan’s ‘COVID dorm’

September 2, 2020 | Robin Erb, Ron French

The hallways are deadly quiet. They can hear sounds from other rooms but don’t know who lives there, and can’t visit. Life in CMU’s COVID Dorm is an eerie, monotonous journey for two, now-separated roommates.

Michigan to identify K-12 schools with coronavirus outbreaks Sept. 14

Michigan to identify K-12 schools with coronavirus outbreaks Sept. 14

September 1, 2020 | Robin Erb

The state’s announcement follows weeks of pressure as many parents must decide whether to send their children to school or have them learn from home. State officials did not include colleges in its decision.

Teachers: Michigan must improve transparency on COVID outbreaks at schools

Teachers: Michigan must improve transparency on COVID outbreaks at schools

August 27, 2020 | Robin Erb

State law gives schools wide discretion on whether to inform the public if there’s an outbreak. That must change, says a union representing 120,000 teachers and support staff.

COVID-19 at your Michigan school? Odds are, nobody is required to tell you.

COVID-19 at your Michigan school? Odds are, nobody is required to tell you.

August 26, 2020 | Robin Erb, Mike Wilkinson, Ron French

The governor’s office and state health officials have yet to identify schools with active coronavirus outbreaks. And under current state policy, there is no requirement of a public announcement.

Swabs, sewage and campus bubbles: Can COVID testing keep colleges open?

Swabs, sewage and campus bubbles: Can COVID testing keep colleges open?

August 24, 2020 | Robin Erb, Ron French

With guesswork built into coronavirus testing at Michigan colleges and universities, campus leaders hope to keep students and staff safe. Nobody, it seems, knows if their plans are likely to work. 

Central Michigan started class Monday. By Friday: 38 coronavirus cases

Central Michigan started class Monday. By Friday: 38 coronavirus cases

August 21, 2020 | Ron French, Robin Erb

Michigan has already reported 14 school-related COVID-19 outbreaks. CMU’s appears to be another.

Michigan to identify schools with COVID outbreaks. In a couple of weeks.

Michigan to identify schools with COVID outbreaks. In a couple of weeks.

August 21, 2020 | Robin Erb, Ron French

There are 14 coronavirus outbreaks reported at Michigan colleges and K-12 schools. The state’s top doc says Michigan’s data system doesn’t collect school names now, and will have to be updated. Until then, nothing.

Michigan has 14 school-related coronavirus outbreaks. State won’t say where.

Michigan has 14 school-related coronavirus outbreaks. State won’t say where.

August 19, 2020 | Robin Erb, Ron French

The state health department declined to say which K-12 schools or colleges had confirmed outbreaks, noting that it has not done so for many businesses. One education leader said parents will likely want to know. 

IQOS (heated tobacco) replaces vaping as the next cigarette alternative

IQOS (heated tobacco) replaces vaping as the next cigarette alternative

August 17, 2020 | Robin Erb

A federal agency is allowing Philip Morris to market its product as producing fewer harmful chemicals than smoked tobacco, even as it delivers about as much nicotine.

Staff at Michigan nursing homes ravaged by COVID-19 set to strike

Staff at Michigan nursing homes ravaged by COVID-19 set to strike

August 12, 2020 | Robin Erb

Saying they are underpaid and unprotected, union members of SEIU Healthcare Michigan say they’re ready to walk. State nursing home advocate says pay has increased; COVID made staffing and PPE a struggle.

Michigan declares racism a health crisis. Without funding, it’s symbolic.

Michigan declares racism a health crisis. Without funding, it’s symbolic.

August 11, 2020 | Robin Erb

In Michigan and elsewhere, Black residents have lower life expectancies and face a host of health inequities. An order from Gov. Whitmer declares racism a health threat, but officials say funding and follow-through is key to make a difference.

Michigan families fight to see seniors amid COVID-19, even in hospice care

Michigan families fight to see seniors amid COVID-19, even in hospice care

August 10, 2020 | Robin Erb

Despite new guidelines intended to give nursing homes and other facilities more discretion to allow visitors during a pandemic, families say some centers remain rigid, hurting the residents they are trying to protect.

What do you want? she asked her hubby in MI nursing home. ‘You,’ he said.

What do you want? she asked her hubby in MI nursing home. ‘You,’ he said.

August 10, 2020 | Robin Erb

Isolation is sapping the life of residents in nursing homes and other facilities amid no-visitation policies during COVID-19. As restrictions grind on, Bridge tells the stories of six residents, who are fading a bit day by lonely day. 

Poll: 3 in 10 in Michigan reluctant to take a free COVID-19 vaccine

Poll: 3 in 10 in Michigan reluctant to take a free COVID-19 vaccine

August 5, 2020 | Robin Erb

The rush to develop a vaccine quickly is the very reason many COVID vaccine skeptics say they don’t trust it. If not enough people take an approved vaccine, it would be difficult to achieve herd immunity to protect residents from the virus.

Michigan hospitals test if plasma from recovering patients can curb COVID-19

Michigan hospitals test if plasma from recovering patients can curb COVID-19

July 30, 2020 | Robin Erb

Antibody-rich plasma is thought to save lives among the sickest coronavirus patients. Michigan’s major hospitals now will see if it helps the mildly sick before they get worse.

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