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'I'm not feeling bad,' Detroit Chief Craig says after virus sidelines him

The Detroit News

Days after he announced that he had contracted COVID-19, Detroit police James Craig told CNN on Tuesday he is feeling better.

"I'm not feeling bad. I mean it's been a little bit of a fight, but I've been fortunate," he said during an interview with "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"You know, I have some mild symptoms now ... but all in all, I'm fighting the good fight and I certainly appreciate all the support I'm getting across the country."

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

He's not the only one on the force in quarantine. The city's Police Department had 522 officers confined to home and 76 members who have tested positive for the virus. There are 133 Fire Department employees quarantined and 17 have tested positive. 

Last week, Detroit police Capt. Jonathan Parnell, 50, died after contracting COVID-19. A day earlier, a 38-year-old civilian 911 dispatcher died after suffering bronchitis-like symptoms, Craig said.

He told Burnett that his department was prepared to handle a smaller force since "we planned for the what-ifs." 

He said non-essential units have been moved and a backup communications system is running. Meanwhile, response time has improved and crime is "somewhat" lower in the city, Craig said. "So, we’ve been surviving this thing so far."

When the chief announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, he said he had been feeling "feverish." Craig was quarantined in his Detroit home and designated assistant chief James White, the longest-tenured assistant chief, to serve in his place while he sought treatment.

His interview came hours after the Detroit Health Department reported nearly two dozen more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, raising its total number of fatalities to 73 and 2,086 confirmed cases. The state health department reported 75 cumulative deaths and 2,080 confirmed cases of the virus in Detroit.

Michigan now has 7,615 confirmed coronavirus cases overall, up 1,117 from Monday, and 259 total deaths, according to numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the city in the next week is expected to be among the first in the nation to receive rapid-testing kits for the virus to obtain quicker results for first responders and health care workers. Michigan, and the city, have quickly emerged as a hot spot for the virus.

Mayor Mike Duggan said the city will be testing the police officers, firefighters and bus drivers to quickly obtain 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. 

Craig said Tuesday that members of his force still quarantined want to return to work as soon as possible.

"That’s a testament to the kind of police officers we have here in the city of Detroit," Craig said.