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Nearly two dozen more deaths in Detroit from COVID-19, cases surpass 2,000

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city has recorded nearly two dozen more coronavirus deaths since Monday and more than 2,000 confirmed cases of the disease.

Detroit's Health Department reported 2,086 case and 73 deaths. The numbers are up from 1,804 cases and 50 deaths the day prior.

"We are all looking forward to the day when COVID-19 is behind us, but that day is a ways out," said Denise Fair, Detroit's chief health officer, adding the new figures represent a 16% increase from Monday. "So until then, let's take this seriously."

The State Department of Health and Human Services in Tuesday data reported 75 COVID-19 deaths for Detroit and 2,080 cases.

Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman, said in an email the report "is provisional and subject to change." It's possible, she said, that the two deaths are coded as Detroit residents in the state's Disease Surveillance System and a correction will be made by a local health agency to indicate they lived in another part of Wayne County or outside of it.

Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti late Monday said two staffers and three parents of the district had died from the virus. 

"One of the hardest days yet. All to this awful virus," Vitti wrote in a message on Twitter. "My heart is in pain for their families and our district and school families."

Duggan during a Tuesday news conference in Eastern Market said he expects the city's numbers will continue to grow as testing capability improves.  

"We continue to get hit with tragedy every day," said Duggan, noting the deaths within the public school system. "The death toll continues to climb. We continue to lose our neighbors."

The city is 100% supportive of the field hospital at the TCF Center that the mayor said "may bother some people," but the safety of residents is his top priority.

The mayor said the state and Army Corps. of Engineers might select areas in other parts of Michigan for surge capacity. 

The mayor on Tuesday also unveiled plans for a $3.1 million small business grant fund to help those impacted by state shutdown restrictions tied to the virus. 

The grants, facilitated by Detroit's Economic Development Corp., will be available for small businesses in the city that earned less than $1 million last year and have fewer than 50 employees are eligible. The awards will range from $2,500 to $10,000 apiece and the applications will go live Wednesday. 

Detroit Economic Growth Corp. CEO Kevin Johnson said the funding can be used for utility payments, rent and payroll. 

The city in the next week is expected to be one of the first in the nation to receive rapid testing kits for the virus to obtain quicker results for first responders and health care workers. 

Duggan said the city reached an agreement over the weekend with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories that will send five testing machines and 5,000 testing kits. 

Hospitals in southeast Michigan will also receive the kits, Duggan said. 

The city's police department has 522 officers on quarantine and 76 members have tested positive for the virus. There are 133 fire department employees on quarantine and 17 have tested positive. 

The mayor said the city will be testing the police officers and firefighters and bus drivers to quickly get results that will get those who test positive fast treatment. Others who are negative for COVID-19 will be cleared and return to work, he said. 

The quarantined firefighters were being tested Tuesday and the police will be tested on Wednesday. 

The mayor put out a call Monday afternoon to doctors and health clinics to step forward to take on new patients. By Tuesday, 22 offices have reached out to Detroit to assist, the mayor said. 

The city, he said, wants to ensure testing is available to residents regardless of whether they have transportation, insurance or a doctor.

The state now has 7,615 confirmed coronavirus cases overall and 259 total deaths.

cferretti@detroitnews.com