Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan warned on Thursday that southeast Michigan is already a national COVID-19 hotspot—and the worst is still to come.
Detroit itself is a huge hotspot within southeast Michigan. The city is reporting 888 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. 19 people have already died.
Duggan said Michigan looks likely to surpass California in coming days, and have the third-highest number of cases in the nation. He said some of the region’s hospitals are already at or near capacity, and the situation will get even more dire next week.
“Everybody in the health care system in the state is preparing as if we’re on a trend line that’s going to follow New York’s,” Duggan said.
“Michigan is at serious risk. I think it’s going to be obvious, if it’s not already, that what Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer did with the stay at home order is absolutely essential.”
Duggan said officials are having what he calls “serious conversations” about creating makeshift hospital space at places like Detroit’s TCF convention center.
Denise Fair, Detroit’s chief health officer, said that in a span of two weeks, COVID-19 has spread to every corner of the city.
“This is only two weeks of data, so it’s really too early to know whether this pattern reflects testing or whether it reflects the spread of COVID-19,” Fair said. “Most likely it’s both. But it’s important to note that cases are occurring throughout the entire city of Detroit.”
A drive-through testing site at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit launches on Friday. Duggan said they hope to test around 100 people on the first day, then quickly ramp up to testing to around 500 people a day by early next week.
But Duggan said people can’t just drive up unannounced—they need a doctor’s prescription and appointment ahead of time. “You can get a test when you have a prescription from your doctor,” he said. “And we do not test if you don’t have symptoms.”
Duggan also gave an update on the hard-hit Detroit Police Department. 25 police officers have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, and nearly 400 are in quarantine, though Duggan expects around 150 to return in the next few days.
“The police department is stressed, but it is performing,” with many officers working overtime, Duggan said. He said 911 calls have dropped off 15-20% since Michigan’s stay at home order went into effect, and crime appears to have dipped as well.
Duggan also said the city will step in to provide school meals for Detroit students, after the Detroit Public Schools Community District scaled back meal service to just two days a week. The city will provide drive-up breakfasts and lunches at six sites on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.