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Duggan on COVID in Detroit: "It's going to get worse."

Detroit skyline
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Detroit skyline

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city is in real danger from COVID-19 again, and things are likely going to get worse.

After months of relatively few COVID-19 cases, the virus is surging in Detroit once again. The city’s test positivity rate is now over 20%, and more than 400 Detroiters are hospitalized.

And Duggan said it’s far from over. “It is going to get worse,” he said. “There is no doubt that that wave is going to continue to spread down into our city, and we have got to protect ourselves.”

Duggan suggested that part of the problem is Detroit’s relatively low vaccination rate. Only about 15% of Detroiters are fully vaccinated, compared to 28% of people statewide.

Duggan essentially pleaded with Detroiters to get vaccinated. “I'm going to ask the people of this city for help, in a way that I haven't asked for help since last April,” Duggan said. “Because at this point, there's nobody else left.”

Duggan said the city will press ahead with, and expand, its current vaccination efforts. He said the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should have a “minimal effect” on that effort, and the city will continue running its two mass vaccination sites (the TCF Center and Northwest Activities Center) along with church and other neighborhood clinics. Duggan noted that the city has plans to add walk-in clinics as soon as next week, and is rolling out a texting service where Detroiters can text their address to (313) 217-3732, and get a list of vaccination locations near them.

Duggan also said the city will roll out a campaign urging people to get vaccinated and promoting “vaccine confidence.” We know right now our biggest enemy is a lack of information or misinformation,” he said. “What is also going to be rolled out is an intensely complete information campaign, [with] everything from public forums to neighbors knocking on your doors to trusted advisors in your community.”

Duggan largely declined to answer a question about whether he thought additional public health restrictions are now needed to curb the pandemic, in addition to vaccination—though he said he thought closing spaces like restaurants would make little difference at this point. I'm not getting between the White House and the governor, that's their decision [and] is not my role,” he said. “It is my role to make vaccines available to Detroiters and to see if we can't prevent some unnecessary funerals.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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