Duggan announces drop in weekly deaths, plan for small business reopening

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News

Mayor Mike Duggan announced on Monday there were 20 new deaths from the coronavirus.

Many of those deaths occurred previously and weren't included in earlier numbers because of reporting delays, he said.

The numbers are down significantly when looking at a seven-day comparison: in the last week there were 38 deaths in Detroit compared to 69 the previous week. 

"What we are doing is continuing to work," Duggan said. 

The high mark was reached during the week of April 11 which saw 282 Detroiters die in the pandemic. 

Overall, there have been 1,263 deaths and 10,394 positive cases in Detroit as of Monday. 

Duggan also announced expanded access to COVID-19 testing at his daily press conference Monday afternoon to every Detroiter at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, even without a prescription. 

"You don’t need a doctor," Duggan said. "You don’t need symptoms. You don’t need money."

Duggan said the improved COVID-19 numbers lead him to believe Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the "not so distant future" will allow retail businesses and offices to open up as a part of the state's Phase 4 of opening. That phase doesn't include restaurants. 

Whitmer announced Monday that parts of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula will be reopened, including bars and restaurants. 

The city released a reopening "playbook" for the thousands of small businesses in the city and is offering additional help through a website at detroitmeansbusiness.org.

The plan "strongly encourages" businesses take a number of steps including requiring employees provide a negative test results that are not older than two weeks from the time of them returning to the job. And employees who did have COVID-19 should be cleared to return by a health care provider.

It also recommends daily temperature checks, mandatory use of masks and workplace distancing such as limiting meetings and making sure desks are six feet apart. 

DTE Energy Foundation announced it will give away free personal protection kits to Detroit small businesses at Eastern Market next week, including 600,000 masks, 1.2 million gloves and 6,000 gallons of hand sanitizer.

Also announced Monday was a $600,000 donation from Pepsi that will go toward increased testing along with food for seniors and children. 

The city on Sunday reported no additional deaths from the virus to its daily count but warned that numbers are often delayed and that weekly totals are more accurate. 

"We cannot afford to get relaxed," said Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair on Monday. "Continue to wear your masks."

Officials closed the 1,000-bed TCF Center field hospital in the city's downtown after it discharged its last COVID-19 patient on May 7. It cared for about 15 to 20 patients at any given time with a total of 39 patients treated, Duggan has said.