Detroit has nearly 4,000 cases of COVID-19; death toll at 129

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city's confirmed cases of coronavirus are hovering just under 4,000 and it has recorded 129 deaths as officials implement stricter measures to keep residents safe.

Detroit's Health Department on Saturday reported nearly 400 more cases and 13 more deaths than Friday. Cases of COVID-19 rose from 3,572 to 3,969, data shows. 

Medical tents are prepared at the new regional COVID-19 testing facility at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds site in Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Assistant Police Chief James White said Friday that the city would be stepping up efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency stay home, stay safe order by boosting patrols of city parks, conducting flyovers and relying on the city's crime-fighting Project Green Light camera system to monitor compliance. 

The mayor stopped short of closing the city's parks to the public and imposing a citywide curfew, but warned that they are not off the table. 

"If you are in a group of five or six people, it is almost a mathematical certainty that one of those people in that group has COVID-19," Duggan said during a Friday news conference. "We've got real issues distancing in our public places."

The mayor has cited the grip the virus is having on New York, where there have been about 1,500 deaths, and said Detroit could be headed for the same fate "if we don't change what we're doing."

A Thursday emergency order from the director of the state health department that said people in violation of Whitmer’s stay-at-home order and other executive actions could face fines of up to $1,000 and businesses could see licensing penalties.

Previously, violations of any of the Whitmer's edicts were to be treated as misdemeanors punishable by jail time and a $500 criminal fine. That recourse still will be available to prosecutors, but the new order also provides for civil sanctions up to $1,000 civil penalty.

Flint in Genesee County on Thursday imposed a curfew for its residents to help stem the spread of the virus there. The restrictions are in place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Trips to grocery stores, banks, gas stations and other essential stops are permitted. The order runs through May 1.

Genesee County had 422 reported cases and 11 deaths as of Friday, according to state data.

Detroit is among the first in the country to receive rapid-result testing kits and machines for COVID-19 from Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories. It also is the site of a regional, drive-up testing site at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds that opened on March 27.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan reached 12,744 Friday as the death toll jumped to 479.