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Detroit to expand COVID-19 vaccine appointments, offer walk-up service

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit  The city is increasing its daily vaccinations from 5,000 to 8,000 per day at the TCF Center downtown and incorporating a walk-up option.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday the expansion begins Monday and allows those 16 and up to have the shot administered through the existing drive-thru site or to park on the TCF rooftop and walk inside the center.

The expansion, Duggan said, comes as Michigan leads the country in its COVID-19 infection rate and Detroit is seeing a surge in hospitalizations. 

Detroit has more than 200 people hospitalized, figures that are about double the statistics from two weeks ago, Duggan said. He added those hospitalized are primarily people in their 30s and 40s. 

"These are numbers that we haven't seen in several months and so far we have not succeeded in knocking them down," he said. "The only thing worse is the rest of the state, which is going up even faster. But that's no comfort to anybody in the city."

Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shared plans to double Michigan's daily goal for COVID-19 vaccinations from 50,000 per day to 100,000 per day as hospitalizations and infection rates continue to climb in the state.

Duggan said there are few hospitalizations in southeast Michigan for patients older than 65, Duggan noted, adding that younger age groups just recently became eligible for vaccines. "What does that tell you? No surprise, the vaccines work," he said.

President Joe Biden's administration said Tuesday that it will boost Michigan's vaccine allocation. The White House said it has assigned 66,020 additional doses for Michigan's shipment next week, putting the total at 620,040, a record high, according to the governor's office.

Michigan's new case rates and the percentage of tests bringing positive results have been steadily climbing for five weeks after declining in January and February. Last week, the state reported 27,758 new cases, a 14-week high, and an 11.3% positivity rate, a 15-week high.

Mayor Mike Duggan talks about the choice between the TCF Center and Ford Field for COVID-19 vaccinations during a press conference at the Detroit Public Safety headquarters in Detroit on March 22, 2021.

Detroit has seen a 166% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported in a six-week period in February and March, with cases rising from 302 to 804.

The city's positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has also been increasing, rising from 3.2% to 7%  during the same period, Denise Fair, the city's chief health officer, said Tuesday.

Michigan has the second-most cases of the B.1.1.7. variant in the nation with more than 1,200 known cases. Wayne County has 105 cases of the variant and Detroit has 24.

Duggan on Wednesday also outlined plans for a "Family Day" on April 10 aimed at getting more than 9,000 city employees and their family members vaccinated.

Currently, about 35% to 40% of city employees have been vaccinated. Those who ultimately choose not to, he said, will have to undergo weekly testing once they return to in-person work.