Duggan expands rapid COVID-19 testing to Detroit restaurant, bar staff

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city is extending rapid COVID-19 testing to staff in Detroit's bars and restaurants as venues continue to reopen. 

Beginning Thursday, those service workers can make appointments for 15-minute testing between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Detroit Health Department at 100 Mack. To arrange an appointment, food service workers should call (313) 251-4488.

"Folks have to take off their mask when they are sitting down to eat or drink. There is no getting around it," Mayor Mike Duggan said during a Wednesday news briefing at Detroit's Public Safety Headquarters. "So you are more at risk than the average person. If we do that, we will make sure that our bars and rest don't have to close again in three or four weeks when it spikes."

The city's testing expansion comes after 120 barbers, hairstyles and manicurists underwent rapid testing over the weekend, resulting in only a single positive test, the mayor said. 

The city is urging those workers who closely interact with the public to repeat testing every two weeks.

"Your chances of catching it are a lot higher than the average person," he said. "Of course, once you catch it, you're going to spread it."

As of Wednesday, the Detroit Health Department had recorded 11,332 confirmed cases and 1,424 deaths. In the last week, the city has logged just three deaths from the virus.

Separately, the mayor weighed in Wednesday on an anticipated tribunal being convened Saturday by protesters over actions of the city and Police Chief James Craig in the early days of ongoing protests downtown.

The demonstrations are taking place in Detroit and around the country in the wake of the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Detroit Will Breathe, an organization formed from the outrage over Floyd's death, said the trial will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, featuring protesters who were arrested, ticketed or "brutalized" by police to hold city leaders accountable.

"I would expect that they will conclude that I'm a terrible mayor, and I should be removed. I think they will conclude chief Craig is a terrible chief and he should be removed. And I think they'll conclude the Detroit Police Department are terrible officers and they should be defunded," he said. "I think that you can pretty well predict that that's going to be the outcome."

But Duggan noted tense instances in which rocks, railroad spikes and fireworks were passed out and used against police. 

"This is America, a tribunal is a form of protest, and we're certainly not going to do anything to disrupt what they do," he added. 

The city on Wednesday also brought in partner agencies who are aiding in foreclosure prevention efforts and income tax assistance under programs being extended with $31 million in federal coronavirus relief funding awarded to Detroit. 

Officials also noted the kickoff of a mural project on Woodward as part of a citywide Juneteenth celebration. The art installation will read "Power to the People," and is being overseen by artist Hubert Massey. The team is comprised of 20 students, including 10 from Detroit's public schools and 10 from the youth-led group, Detroit Heals Detroit, said Rochelle Riley, the city's director of arts and culture. 

The week-long, virtual celebration will feature forums on the history and culture of the black community and commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. on Friday. 

On Thursday, Duggan also will host a virtual 7 p.m. town hall to educate Detroiters about how to save money on car insurance when a new auto no-fault law goes into effect July 2.