Duggan urges Detroiters to get COVID-19 boosters amid uptick in cases

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan warned Thursday that another troubling wave of COVID-19 is headed for Michigan before the end of fall and urged residents eligible for booster shots to get them.

Duggan and Detroit's top health official noted a significant rise in hospitalizations within the past month and that the daily positivity rate for the virus in the city has doubled. 

"Florida's August is going to be Michigan before the end of fall," Duggan said after noting other parts of the country where COVID-19 is surging. "It is heading our way." 

Just as Detroit resumed in-person public government meetings, the rise in COVID-19 numbers has prompted a return to virtual meetings starting Sept. 1, he added. 

The return to Zoom was decided by Detroit Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair, Duggan said during a news conference at Detroit's Public Safety Headquarters. 

"Unfortunately we're going to have to go back to doing COVID updates — this is part of our lives now," he said. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan holds a press conference Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, to give an overview of vaccine booster shots and an update on the flood crisis.

The city's COVID-19 hospitalizations, he said, are up from 35 at the start of August to 88 now.

"If they triple again in the next month, we're going to have serious issues," Duggan said. "And at this point there's every reason to believe that's where they're going."

Other than the suspension of in-person meetings and the return to Zoom, Duggan did not announce any new coronavirus-related restrictions Thursday.

Fair said during Thursday's briefing that the city was "mandating" employees wear masks indoors and those who are unvaccinated will have to undergo biweekly testing. But the Detroit Health Department later clarified that employees are only "encouraged" to wear masks indoors.

Fair said the city's vaccination rate of 43% "continues to be pretty low."

About 100 Detroiters are coming down with the virus per day now, compared with about 50 per day a few weeks ago, she said. 

The mayor said the city's focus is on pushing vaccinations, including booster shots for the immunocompromised.

Duggan announced that in addition to the 500 booster shots per day being given at the TCF Center in the city's downtown, neighborhood sites also are available. The booster doses available are Pfizer and Moderna.

The Johnson & Johnson booster shot would be made available "after FDA approval," Duggan said.

"I was one of the ones lobbying President (Joe) Biden for the third shots," Duggan said.

"After six months, those vaccines start to lose their effectiveness," Duggan said. "If you're immunocompromised, get a shot. And starting Sept. 30, everybody should be getting them."

The TCF Center last week began offering the third shot and has provided it to nearly 2,000 Detroiters so far. Beginning Thursday, Duggan said, all vaccination sites in Detroit are offering the third dose to immunocompromised individuals by either appointment or walk-ins.

To make an appointment at any city vaccination site, call (313) 230-0505 or visit detroitmi.gov/health

Separately, Duggan on Thursday encouraged residents affected by recent flooding to apply for the $56 million in federal aid available "just for Detroiters."

The federal Small Business Administration has offered another $60 million in loans, he said.

He said people who've had problems can go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency offices in Detroit and quickly get help. FEMA will be in town through Sept. 13.

More:FEMA teams deploy to flood-damaged homes in Wayne, Washtenaw counties

"They didn't fly in here to say no," Duggan said. "They're going to be here for a few more weeks. Take advantage."