With the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the second wave, and its numbers impacting the Black community at a greater rate, Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials implored Detroiters and businesses to take even more proactive measures to remain safe during a virtual press briefing today on the heels of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent three-week pause in effect this Wednesday.
“The midwest is absolutely covered in COVID,” Duggan said at the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.
Duggan said that when he spoke on Oct. 21, the public learned that the city of Detroit had the lowest infection rate in the state at 2.5% with higher rates in places like Oakland [5.7%], Wayne, [5.4%] and Macomb [8%]. The current infection rate more than doubled with now Oakland at 13.1%; Wayne at 12.6% and Macomb at 17%; Detroit’s infection rate jumped, also, to the current 6.8%. Late October statistics also revealed in Detroit that daily COVID-19 hospitalization numbers increased from 46 people hospitalized a day to 71 people hospitalized today.
Duggan said that he’s been listening to complaints primarily from local casino owners who asked him with Detroit not having high COVID-19 cases, why do they have to shut down per the governor’s ruling?
“The reality is she has to treat us as a region,” Duggan said, adding that Detroit restaurants and businesses are being shut down because of “irresponsible behavior” in the surrounding communities.
During the three-week pause, announced yesterday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which are between Nov. 18 and Dec. 8, the state will mandate that these operations be closed:
- In-person learning at high schools, colleges, and universities
- theaters, stadiums, and arenas
- All who can work from home will be required to do just that
- dine-in restaurants and bars
- organized sports, except professional sports
- bowling centers, ice skating, indoor water parks
- bingo halls, casinos, arcades
- group fitness classes
There will be several areas that will remain open, according to the state. Those include:
- Hair salons, barbershops & other personal services
- Gyms and pools for individual exercise
- Retail stores
- Indoor gatherings limited to two households & 10 people
- Small outdoor gatherings limited to 25 people
- Preschool through 8th grade
- Public transit
- Manufacturing, construction, other work impossible to do remotely.
Duggan asked people to think about if Whitmer kept Detroit’s restaurants, and other businesses, open in the southeast region — people all over the state would descend upon the city bringing with some of them COVID-19 and the city would have been a “magnet.”
Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair said that the Health Department is working at “protecting the most vulnerable” residents including senior citizens and people experiencing homelessness with new steps including onsite COVID testing over the next two weeks at nursing homes [for staff and residents] and frequent testing at homeless shelters.
Also, with four outbreaks at Detroit schools [with a majority of cases coming from staff], beginning today as a proactive measure, the Health Department inspectors will conduct unannounced school visits whether a school has a positive COVID-19 case or not. Also, those who are found to be non-compliant with COVID-19 safety measures will face a $200 fine. For businesses, those found to be found in violation will face a $1,000 fine or possible shutdown.
“If you are a business owner you are responsible for keeping your employees and customers safe,” Fair said. “Residents, you can help us. If you see something say something.”
Fair directed people to go to the Health Department website or call 313-876-4000 to report a potential health violation.
“When you contact us we are going to take it seriously and conduct a full investigation,” Fair said. “As customers of businesses we too must do our part of helping keep our business open while protecting each other from the virus. … Our first priority is the health of Detroiters.”
Fair said that Detroiters should continue to:
- Wash their hands
- Social Distance
- Wear a mask
- Avoid crowds
Dr. Robert Dunne talked about if someone was in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, what should be done.
Dunne said that he gets asked that question a lot and all the time and it’s important to define what close contact means.
“It means you’ve been within six feet of someone who is positive for more than 15 minutes or more,” he said, adding that a number of things can be done to stay safe including stay at home 14 days after exposure, stay away from others, and get a test. “Even if you don’t get any symptoms you should get tested. … People are not getting tested as often as they should.”
Duggan said that the city has a free test for everyone that can be done at the Joseph Walker Williams Center, 8431 Rosa Parks Boulevard. To schedule a COVID-19 test, Michigan residents can call 313-230-0505. Call between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Results come in about three to seven days.
“The reason why COVID has been such an extraordinary spreader [is that there are] people without symptoms spreading it … we have the testing capability, please take advantage of it,” Duggan said, adding that this Thanksgiving will look a bit different to minimize the risk of spread. “I had to tell my mother we are not going to have Thanksgiving.”
Fair broke down what the recent executive order means if people do choose to gather safely for the holiday. In-person gatherings include no more than 10 family members from two separate homes.
“These two households may celebrate together, however they should still wear a mask and remove them when eating and enjoying a beverage,” she said, adding that “this still brings risks” and everyone should remain cautious. “We cannot allow mental fatigue from this virus to set in or just get too comfortable together … we will get through this.”
During a question-and-answer segment, Duggan said that he and hospital CEOs are discussing managing hospital capacity for if Detroit hospitals become full. He said that presently suburban hospitals are largely full and are sending their patients here.
“In a few weeks we might not have the capacity in southeast Michigan,” he said, adding that hospitals will be looking into converting unused areas into usable sections for COVID-19 patients. “We learned a lot from the spring,” Duggan said.
Duggan added that health inspectors also have the capacity to write tickets if need be for those non-compliant.
“We’re using more and more surprise inspections,” he said. “We are going to be really vigilant in the next few months. I can’t have the bad businesses cause the good businesses to shut down. That is why we’re going to continue to be vigilant.”
For more information on the press briefing go to the city of Detroit Government Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CityOfDetroit.
For more information about the order, visit bit.ly/2ICBRji.