The coronavirus pandemic is devastating Detroit, igniting concerns that this financially struggling city can provide the required medical services to its most vulnerable residents and turning the Wayne County, Michigan, community into a national COVID-19 hot spot.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on CBS This Morning that the situation in Detroit, a national “hot spot” for cases of the new coronavirus, will worsen and the city “will have a worse week next week.” This comes as Detroit’s own police chief James Craig, along with 39 of his officers, tested positive and, last week, a Detroit Police captain and civilian 911 operator died due to complications from COVID-19. In addition, 468 officers were under quarantine as of March 27.
According to Bridgemi.com, Detroit has a per capita infection rate that is among the nation’s highest, exceeded only by New York and its surrounding counties and New Orleans. Detroit also has a very high poverty rate with health issues like diabetes that come with it; in recent years, it was even named the poorest city in the country.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Detroit’s Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus Have Escalated Dramatically
Michigan officials report the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan stands at 4,650 as of March 28. This is a one day increase of 993 cases. According to Michigan.gov, the metro Detroit area (Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties) accounts for 83 percent who have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The federal government “listed Detroit as a hotspot” because the city had 1,381 cases with 31 deaths as of March 28, ClickonDetroit reported. By March 29, the city’s website was reporting 35 deaths and 1,544 cases.
Detroit’s City Health Department just released a heat map showing hot spots in the city where people testified positive. You can see it below.
The surgeon general said on CBS This Morning that “we know we can get through this.” How bad it is “depends on where you are,” he said. He said communities that have been aggressive about lockdowns and restricting social gatherings have been more successful in holding the line.
He then singled out Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, calling them “hot spots.” He added, “The virus and the local community are going to determine the timeline.” He said people should follow what the data is telling them.
2. Deaths Have Jumped by Double Digits in Recent Days, Taking the Lives of Everyone From a State Representative to an 80-Year-Old Man to a Beloved Entrepreneur
According to Michigan.gov, there have been 111 fatalities, up 19 from the previous day March 27. The age range of the deceased is 36 to 97 years old, with a median age of 70. Of the deceased, 68 percent of the victims were male, while 31 percent were female.
When it comes to overall positive cases in the City of Detroit, though, 51.23 percent are female, the city reports. The largest cluster—20.03 percent—are people ages 50 to 59.
A male 911 dispatcher, 38, died on Monday, and had no significant medical issues that doctors were aware of, said Dr. Robert Dunne of Wayne State University. He worked for the city of Detroit for 11 years, and as an operator for eight years, according to Fox 2 Detroit.
The second member of the department to die from coronavirus was Captain Jonathan Parnell. He was a 31-year veteran of the department and led the homicide department, according to Detroit police.
“Captain Parnell aka ‘Recon,’ always considered a consummate leader and professional,” Chief James Craig wrote on his twitter page. “Recon’s legacy will continue to thrive in the Detroit Police Department. His years of service in making Detroit a safer city will not be forgotten. RIH.”
Craig also spoke about Parnell in a news conference. “An extraordinary officer. A leader. Who contributed more to this department and the community than I could ever say,” the chief said of the lost commander. “He cherished his family, and the department members he worked alongside, and we all loved him back … He did leave a significant impact …”
Not all names have been released for other Detroit coronavirus victims. However, the family of James Harper, 80, urged people to take coronavirus seriously in an interview with ClickonDetroit.
“We have lost a strong and vital part of the family, the patriarch, the husband, the father, the uncle, the grandfather, the friend,” Shelonda Sims wrote in a Facebook tribute to Harper. “He never met a stranger and always had something funny to say. He was stern but fair. You would hardly ever see him without this smile. You would have never known his age because he was active, strong, quick-witted and young at heart.”
Another person who died was named as Marlow Stoudamire, a well-known 43-year-old Detroit consultant and entrepreneur.
Stoudamire died from complications related to COVID-19, according to hospital officials and friends. Stoudamire is survived by his wife, Valencia, and two young children. Tributes flowed in on Facebook for Stoudamire. “This virus robbed us of you, and robbed the world of your talent and heart. It robbed your family of an amazing husband and father,” wrote one friend.
According to his website, he served at the helm of the Detroit 67 project and did work for the Skillman Foundation and the National Hockey League.
Henry Ford Health System COO Bob Riney, who was a close friend and former colleague of Stoudamire’s, described Stoudamire as “An amazing man, husband, friend and one of the best dads that I have ever met … My wife and I are heartbroken for this devastating loss. We will continue the fight of this terrible pandemic in his honor.”
Glenn Wilson wrote:
I’m still in disbelief that I lost my good friend Marlowe Stoudamire today. We were just sitting together on a panel at our Detroit office talking about equitable partnerships a couple weeks ago. I’ll never forget when Gina Coleman introduced us about 4 years ago. He me asked right out the gate – ‘why are you in Detroit?’ I gave him an answer and he said “I like that”. I was wondering who is this guy questioning me. From then on he took me under his wing like a real brother and told me he would do anything to make sure we had opportunity in Detroit. For those who know Marlowe, he was not about games but truly about the cause of uplifting black people unapologetically. He introduced me to many people. He would sit on phone and listen to me complain about funders and other things.
Stoudamire was only 43 years old. He had worked as community and diversity manager for Henry Ford Health Systems.
On March 29, the name of State Rep. Isaac Robinson was added to the list of Detroit coronavirus victims, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.
3. One-Fifth of the Police Force is on Quarantine & Some of the Infections Were Traced to a Pancake Event
The police officers on quarantine amount to one-fifth of the force, according to The Associated Press. Chicago police aren’t alone; across the nation, major police departments are grappling with coronavirus, and more than 500 officers with the New York Police Department have tested positive alone, AP reported.
In Detroit, some of the infections might have spread at a community and police pancake event. Three officers at that March 6 event tested positive and numerous others were quarantined, according to The Detroit Free Press, which added that Marlowe Stoudamire was a presenter at that event.
The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted many areas of the Detroit community. Michigan schools have been closed since the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer order starting March 16 through April 5.
Whitmer said in an interview on WWJ news radio, “It’s probably very unlikely that they’re going to get back in school before the end of the year. I haven’t made that call yet because I want to make sure we’ve got a plan to meet the needs of our kids and that’s what we are working on. It’s not something you develop overnight because we’ve got an inequitable system across the state of Michigan and we’ve got unique needs that we’ve got to make sure get met.”
4. Michigan Has Been Declared a Major Disaster & Residents Are Subject to a Stay at Home Order
In an attempt to get a handle on the crisis, officials have issued a stay-at-home order for the State of Michigan.
“On Monday, March 23, the State of Michigan announced the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order that requires all non-critical businesses to temporarily close and all residents to stay home except for essential needs or six feet away from others. This starts on March 24.”
President Trump declared Michigan a disaster area due to coronavirus on Friday, March 27.
According to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office, President Trump ordered federal assistance to help state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus and is making federal funding available to individuals affected by coronavirus including funding for crisis counseling.
The Crisis Counseling Program is a direct-support program to provide services for those whose mental health has been impacted by the spread of COVID-19. The federal government also granted the governor’s request for emergency protective measures, including funding for transporting and pre-positioning equipment, Emergency Operation Center (EOC)-related costs, medical supplies and personal protective equipment, medical care and transport, and childcare. The governor’s request for Hazard Mitigation assistance to help provide relief during planning for recovery in the long-term is currently under review.
On March 28, Gov Whitmer tweeted that 112,800 N95 masks were received and 8,000 more were on the way.
The City of Detroit suggests taking these preventative actions:
Wash your hands with soap and water for 20+ seconds
Use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol
Avoid close personal contact with others, such as shaking hands
Practice social distancing by keeping 6 feet from other individuals
Avoid crowded, public spaces
Avoid touching your face
Avoid contact with those who are sick or may be sick
Cancel non-essential travel (both foreign and domestic)
Clean all high-touch surfaces frequently.
5. Detroit Hospitals Ramp Up Capacity and Testing
Michigan began implementing a plan in which hospitals outside the Detroit area are requested to act as backup hospitals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The hospitals will offer 10 percent of their bed capacity to accept patients from overwhelmed hospitals.
Yahoo News reported that the 2020 North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been canceled because FEMA has selected the TCF Center, the convention center that hosts the event to serve as a field hospital for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to The Detroit News, metro Detroit hospital officials say they’re able to test up to 100 patients per day with their new test that was deployed Monday and will expand that to 200 per day by next week and as many as 1,000 per day within weeks.
According to Michigan Radio, a leaked letter circulating on social media outlining which patients would be prioritized if Henry Ford Health System runs out of ventilators or Intensive Care Unit beds.
On March 26, Henry Ford Health System released this statement which stated these guidelines were a preparation for a worst-case scenario:
“With a pandemic of this nature, health systems must be prepared for a worst case scenario. Gathering the collective wisdom from across our industry, we carefully crafted our policy to provide critical guidance to healthcare workers for making difficult patient care decisions during an unprecedented emergency. These guidelines are deeply patient focused, intended to be honoring to patients and families. We were pleased to share our policy with our colleagues across Michigan to help others develop similar, compassionate approaches. It is our hope we never have to apply them and we will always do everything we can to care for our patients, utilizing every resource we have to make that happen.”