Detroit ramps up COVID-19 vaccine efforts with new neighborhood sites

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday announced eight new vaccine sites in Detroit neighborhoods and said if vaccine rates don't increase the city could be in a vulnerable position in the coming weeks.

The city will host a weeklong campaign to bring vaccines to neighborhoods next week.

From April 12-16 there will be one or more sites operating every day in each council district. The city has also partnered with Detroit Public Schools Community District and the Islamic Center of Detroit to expand vaccine distribution.

The ramp-up in the effort to get residents vaccinated comes as the school district paused in-person learning this week as caseloads are expected to increase following spring break.

The state recorded 8,413 new cases of the virus Saturday, the largest daily case total in four months. The city has a coronavirus testing positivity rate of 16.3%, an increase from 2.6% in one month, said Denise Fair, the city's chief public health officer.

"The data is really alarming and disappointing because we have come so far and I'd hate for us to backpedal," Fair said. "The only way that we're going to beat COVID-19 is to significantly expand our vaccination efforts. This is the only city in the entire country where it is so easy to get a vaccine."

The city is launching a media campaign and will be knocking on doors in neighborhoods to expand vaccination rates, Fair said.

As Ramadan begins April 13, Islamic Center of Detroit Executive Director Sufian Nabhan said "getting vaccinated while fasting is acceptable and should be done to keep you and your family safe."

On Wednesday, Duggan announced 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 on the roof of the TCF Center garage.

The city has recorded 36,160 COVID-19 cases resulting in 1,874 deaths since March 2020. The city added 1,607 cases since Thursday.

Detroit has more than 263 people hospitalized, tripling since the last week of March when there were 91 hospitalized for COVID-19, Duggan said. He added those hospitalized are primarily people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

"If this triples again in another two or three weeks, we are talking about the kinds of levels we saw last March and April when people were on gurneys in hallways," Duggan said. "This is real and it is hitting our city now in a way we are not properly preparing for."

The state's positivity rate is at 15%, Oakland County is at 14.8%, Wayne County is at 16.6% and Macomb County is at 22.2% positivity.

"Suburbs used to be double or triple Detroit in terms in positivity rate and now we are higher than Oakland County... In the direction we're going, we could have the highest infection rate in two or three weeks, heading toward a situation where it's the Detroit businesses being shut down because we didn't take steps available to us."

Duggan said the city has more than enough vaccines and there is no reason not to get vaccinated, especially when Michigan is currently the most dangerous place to be for COVID-19 risk.

"The next few weeks are going to decide what our summer is like," Duggan said. "There is no reason this city can't be reopened and back to normal by the end of the summer, but if our vaccine rate is running far less than the surrounding communities, we're not going to make it. The future is in our hands."

As of Sunday, nearly 20% of Detroit residents have had at least one shot, compared to 38% of outer Wayne County and Oakland County, 31.5% of Macomb County, 41% of Washtenaw County and 35.5% of Michigan.

The city has administered 220,600 of the 264,000 doses it has received.

Appointments for all locations can be made at (313) 230-0505.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_