Detroit has 2,483 COVID-19 cases, 82 total deaths from the virus

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city has 2,483 confirmed cases of coronavirus — representing about 26% of the most recent cases in the state overall — and 82 people have died, city health department figures show. 

The Detroit Health Department's Wednesday figures continue to show an upward trend for the city with 396 new daily cases. That's up slightly from the 282 reported on Tuesday.

Mayor Mike Duggan rejected theories that the city's high levels of poverty and pre-existing health conditions, including asthma, lung disease and hypertension, are causing it to be hard-hit by the virus. Reports on "why is Detroit a hot spot" are "disturbing," he added during a Wednesday press conference.

"There is no reason to believe that the health conditions affect the infection rate," Duggan said. "There's no question; Detroiters suffer from kidney disease, from heart disease, from asthma at rates typically double that of the surrounding communities. That doesn't affect the infection rate. It may affect the fatality rate."

The mayor noted Detroit, Oakland County and other places nationally like Kings County, Washington and New Rochelle, New York, were all hit early for the same reasons. The illness, he said, is equally devastating in affluent communities. 

"Somebody brought the virus into this community early on, it spread in this community before we knew what was happening and the places in this country that are getting hit are the places that were infected first," he said.

Duggan attributed the large increase in confirmed cases to Detroit's "very successful testing program."

The afternoon figures are slightly higher than an initial report earlier Wednesday of 2,383 cases and 81 deaths. 

On Tuesday, the number of recorded deaths in the city jumped by nearly two dozen from the day prior, when the number of fatalities from COVID-19 reached 73.

A 2018 community health assessment headed up by the former health director leader Joneigh Khaldun, the state's current chief medical executive, found the average life expectancy in Detroit is 72 years, lower than the state average of 78 years. Between 2014 and 2016, the report noted, 28% of residents ranked their health as "fair or poor."

Denise Fair, the city's chief public health officer, said Wednesday that it has long been known that many residents in the city have underlying health issues. But the virus is "going to affect us all."

"This virus is something that we are learning about every single day," she said. "COVID-19 has no geographic boundary."

Among the losses in Detroit are two staffers of the city's public school district and three parents. 

Mayor Mike Duggan has said he expects that a regional site established at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds will conduct at least 14,000 tests for COVID-19 over the next six weeks. 

The city is also among the first in the nation to receive rapid testing kits next week for first responders and health care workers. 

Five testing machines and 5,000 kits that provide results within 15 minutes are being supplied under an agreement with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories. They arrived in the city Wednesday and should be up and running to test police, firefighters, EMTs and bus drivers within the next 24 hours, he said. 

As of Wednesday, the city's police department had 525 officers on quarantine and 136 fire department employees.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans joined Duggan Wednesday to announce a new, $1.6 million grant program for small businesses countywide. The funding comes on top of $3.1 million committed Tuesday exclusively for Detroiters, Duggan said. 

The state on Wednesday reported 9,334 confirmed coronavirus cases overall and 337 total deaths.