Detroit coronavirus cases jump to 551, eight deaths

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city has 551 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in its residents and eight deaths, health officials said Tuesday.

Denise Fair, Detroit's chief public health officer, revealed the latest figures during Detroit City Council's first virtual formal session after the state mandated more stringent rules to avoid spread of the virus, including a "stay home, stay safe" order that went into effect at 12:01 a.m. 

"The situation is evolving rapidly," Fair told council members. "Last Tuesday, we had 14 cases. Now we're up to 551. We're definitely working with the city, working with residents."

The cases have climbed from 414 reported by the city on Monday. Fair added that the department is receiving about 300 calls daily from residents with questions or worries over COVID-19.

The status report comes after Mayor Mike Duggan convened a news conference Monday to urge residents to abide by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's new statewide mandate to stay at home as Michigan works to stem the virus.

Duggan noted Monday that 14 city employees — including nine police officers — had tested positive for the respiratory illness. 

On Tuesday, Detroit's Police Department announced one of its staff members has died.

The mayor stressed during a news conference that people need to do what's necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. As of Monday, there were more than 1,300-plus confirmed cases across the state. 

Detroit's Chief Financial Officer Dave Massaron told council Tuesday that the city, like others, has suffered substantial revenue losses as a result of the coronavirus impact, including hits to its income tax and gaming revenue. 

Detroit has spent at least $11 million already on response-related activities connected to the virus outbreak. Those dollars, he said, are draw from existing capital funding, not the next year's fund balance.

The city does expect it will be reimbursed for 75% of it, Massaron said.

To cope with some of the losses, Massaron noted, Detroit has suspended most spending for demolition and capital investment.

The CFO told council that based on the circumstances he recommends that council — currently in the midst of hearings for the mayor's proposed 2020-21 fiscal budget —adopt a budget based on February revenue estimates and that it undergo and entirely new budget process in May or June to make operational changes as Detroit enters the next fiscal year. 

Council President Brenda Jones on Tuesday noted that 20% of Detroit's budget is tied to casino revenue. Between gaming taxes and municipal services fees, the closure of the casinos is costing the city about $600,000 a day.

"We don't know how long the casinos will be shut down," she said. "Our budgets are going to have to change. We're going to have to look at how we are spending dollars."