Duggan urges Detroiters to fill Census; 20 COVID-19 deaths this week

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Apart from his daily COVID-19 updates, Mayor Mike Duggan is challenging Detroiters to fill out the Census this week as the city only has a 50% response rate, officials say.

Duggan previewed the weekend's Everybody VS COVID-19 Unity Festival, a two-day online event designed to help fight the virus and raise awareness about the 2020 census.

The city has expanded the event to include more performers that will stream on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram Live, said Eric Thomas, the city's chief storyteller. 

Big Sean is leading the group of Detroit artists and performers who will participate in the streaming event 5-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Proceeds will go to the business stabilization fund with TechTown. 

Mayer Hawthorne, Sada Baby, La Britney, Gmac Cash Dusty McFly, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and others will participate in the digital event, which borrows its name from Detroit Vs. Everybody creator Tommey Walker, who introduced an Everybody Vs. COVID-19 line of shirts and hoodies in March.

Less than 50% of Detroit residents have responded to the 2020 U.S. Census survey, city officials said. The city will also be hosting a drive-thru at 11 a.m. Saturday where residents can pick up census materials at Martin Luther King High School.

Sandra Turner Handy, a community leader from the Moross Morang neighborhood, helped jump her neighborhood jump 5% in one week by organizing Zoom parties and promoted filling out the Census. 

"Able to go through the whole Census form with community members online to lessen the intimidation that a lot of the community members feel when they fill out government forms," she said. "Then we had online bingo and gave out gift cards related to filling out the Census."

The hard-hit city has had two deaths in the past three days, Duggan said.

"The overall trend has been dropping from 290 deaths (week April 9-15) to 58 three weeks ago and 20 (deaths) in the last seven days," Duggan said. "...The people of this city are so committed to social distancing that our numbers have dropped lower than the suburbs."

The city has conducted 3,000 tests from the former State Fairgrounds since May 22, 2.5% of Detroiters tested positive compared to 5.9% of suburbanites, Duggan said.

"About 1 in 40 Detroiters are testing positive," he said. "It looks like the people in suburban Wayne, Oakland and Macomb may be are running infections at twice the rate of Detroit."

More than 2,000 businesses picked up free personal protective equipment kits from Eastern Market and reopened this week.

"We can reopen the economy safely if we continue to see these numbers... I'm expecting in the next couple of weeks that we will be able to reopen restaurants in the next couple of weeks," Duggan said, adding that it would need to be contingent on outside seating.

As of Friday, the city added 27 new cases for a total of 10,954 cases and 1,358 deaths from the virus.

Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair said they are continuing to test seniors and have tested 2,600 residents in 47 facilities to date.

A public health order was issued Thursday to close swimming pools in southeast Michigan because it's hard to maintain social distancing, Fair said.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_