Detroit takes aggressive steps to slow spread of COVID-19 | Michigan Radio
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Detroit takes aggressive steps to slow spread of COVID-19

Nov 16, 2020

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at press conference on 11/16/2010
Credit City of Detroit Facebook screenshot

Detroit is stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 protocols on city businesses, urging residents to call the health department if they see a business flouting the rules, such as not requiring employees and customers to wear masks or physically distance.

Mayor Mike Duggan says an inspector will go to that business immediately, and inspectors have been given the authority to issue a $1,000 fine or even shut the business down if necessary.

"We are going to be really vigilent the next few months, because I can't have the bad businesses cause the good businesses to be shut down," he said at a press conference.

Duggan says he has received many calls from local businesses, wanting to know why the governor's recent order to shut down indoor dining and other restrictions should apply to them, since Detroit has the lowest positivity rate by far compared to surrounding counties.  

"There's no wall around Detroit," the mayor said, while acknowledging "irresponsible behavior" by people living in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

But he said leaving Detroit businesses open while those in other counties shut down would merely flood the city with potentially infected residents of other cities.

Detroit Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair says the largest outbreaks right now are in nursing homes.  The city will test all nursing home staff and residents in the next two weeks, she says, to try to control the spread among a highly vulnerable population. Random inspections will be conducted at schools, where there have been some outbreaks among teachers not taking precautions in teachers' lounges, she says.

Duggan says suburban hospitals are now at capacity, and they are sending COVID-19 patients to hospitals in Detroit. He expects city hospitals to be at capacity within two weeks, and says the area's hospital administrators are discussing next steps.

That may not be setting up a field hospital. Duggan says the experience from the spring shows a field hospital in a convention center is not a good place to send elderly people with chronic illnesses, to be cared for by staff who are not used to working together. He says a field hospital is probably going to be the last resort, and instead, hospitals will work to increase COVID-19 units in their existing buildings.

The city is also making COVID-19 tests available to anyone in the city on demand, whether or not they have symptoms or have insurance. The test site will be the Williams Recreation Center. Duggan says people in the city aren't getting tested frequently enough, and urged them to take advantage of the free tests, the results of which should be available within one to two days.

Duggan defended Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Sunday announcement of new restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19, saying she had "no choice."  He says he does expect the restrictions to be necessary for longer than three weeks, and also expects the Governor to shut down gyms at some point.

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