Over the last two years, under the leadership of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Robert Gordon, Michigan made it easier to get and keep important benefits. The state now provides additional resources to low-income individuals, seeks to treat residents with respect and has reduced pointless complexity. Many challenges remain and the department’s new leader, Elizabeth Hertel, has an opportunity to accelerate these improvements.

For decades, scientists have studied the effects that livestock farms with large animal concentrations in Iowa and other states have on regional water quality, as increasing amounts of waste flow into rivers and groundwater. Now activists and some lawmakers say emergency measures are needed to stop toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay, and threats to drinking water in rural communities. In some states, lawmakers worry about the future of smaller family farms.

When the pandemic arrived in Michigan last March, paramedics and other emergency medical technicians braced themselves for an onslaught of calls to bring individuals battling COVID-19 to the hospital. And while there was certainly a flood of COVID-19 patients to some hospitals, mostly in metro Detroit, calls to 911 dropped dramatically across Michigan as out-of-hospital deaths soared. Michiganders, including those facing serious illnesses, were avoiding the medical system.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Wednesday that some pandemic restrictions are being loosened. Legislative Republicans, however, continue to push for a full reopening and have threatened to hold up Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointees and withhold federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

I don’t know about you, but I love listening to other peoples’ holiday traditions. Many people think that their traditions might not be very special or unique, but I’ve found that every family has a different twist on the holidays. This year, in addition to my own family’s traditions, I reached out to gather 50 traditions around Southwest Michigan. The holidays might look different for a lot of people this year, but our memories can never be taken from us.

Beaver Lake Hunt Club General Manager Todd Reilly knew the pandemic meant that camaraderie shared during hunting could end in serious sickness and death for club members, especially considering many are older and susceptible to severe COVID-19 cases. As gravely ill patients flooded intensive care units and the death toll rose last spring, the manager knew he needed to protect his members and decided he’d close the facility’s lodge and kitchen this hunting season. While individuals couldn’t gather like they once had, they were still able to hunt there, and Reilly provided electric hookups for those who wanted to forgo a nearby motel room and instead set up a camper.