Duggan sees 'serious risk' as city's COVID-19 cases rise

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Detroit have climbed to 868 — including 25 city police officers and one firefighter — and Mayor Mike Duggan warns Michigan "is at serious risk." 

The mayor, during a Thursday news conference alongside the city's chief health officer, said he believes that the state is on trend to outpace Washington and California in the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming days and is preparing for a surge like what's been seen in New York.

"It is really concerning, Michigan is at a serious risk," he said. "This virus is continually looking for new hosts to infect. The only way it will be prevented is if people stay away from each other and we don't let his virus jump from one host to another. That's the only thing that will stop us from beating New York."

Duggan said as of Thursday afternoon, 398 police officers were in quarantine. 

Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair noted two weeks ago the city had zero cases of COVID-19. Last Tuesday, there were 14 cases and now, the totals are nearing 900. 

"Detroit has more cases than any other county in Michigan," said Fair, adding that 200 employees at the health department are working to slow the spread.

The health office's epidemiology team, Fair said, has determined that nearly half of the patients are over age 60. The largest number, she said, are 60 to 69, and there are more women than men.

"However, Detroiters of all ages are being affected by COVID-19," she said. 

Fair said the increase in cases is attributed in part to the availability of testing at centers, including Henry Ford Hospital, as well as the spread of the virus in the community.

Duggan said the city will offer food five days per week at six recreation centers to ensure children in Detroit will have breakfast and lunches available during the school shutdown.

Earlier this week, DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the district was restructuring its food distribution plan after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's shelter-in-place order led to more employees "being uncomfortable" and a growing number becoming ill. 

Beginning Thursday, families are being offered a bag of four, precooked breakfast meals and lunches. Food distribution will continue every subsequent Monday and Thursday at 17 locations. 

On Wednesday, the city announced a partnership that will provide for a regional drive-thru testing site at the Joe Dumars Field House on the former Michigan Fairgrounds property. 

Through the partnership with the DMC, Henry Ford Health System, Saint Joseph Mercy Health and Trinity Health, and Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, about 400 tests will be conducted per day through May 8.

The state on Thursday reported 2,856 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 60 deaths since the first Michigan case was confirmed on March 10.

So far, 330 individuals have signed up. They will do 100 tests beginning Friday, 300 on Saturday and 400 to 500 people per day beginning Monday, Duggan said. 

"We need to get from 400 to 500 a day to 1,000 a day to 2,000 a day," he said. "The only way we're going to do that is with everybody pitching in."