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Detroit reports lowest one-day increase in coronavirus deaths in more than a month


  • Steve Neavling

Detroit reported just nine new coronavirus deaths on Friday, the lowest one-day increase in more than a month.

City officials attributed the decline to social distancing measures.

“The numbers are coming down extremely fast,” Mayor Mike Duggan said at a news conference Friday. “We’ve brought this down probably faster than any city in the country. … We are not going to let this reverse.”

The city now has 1,045 coronavirus deaths and nearly 9,200 positive cases.

Duggan estimates that one in 10 residents have been infected with COVID-19.

As of Thursday, Detroit had more deaths per capita than New York City, the epicenter of the crisis, but that could soon change.

In April, the city averaged 31 daily deaths. Hospitals were overwhelmed, and more than a quarter of the city's police force had been under quarantine. The coronavirus also swept through nursing homes, killing 233 residents and three staff members.

To combat the spread, police issued hundreds of citations to people who ignored the the state’s stay-at-home order, and city officials removed rims on some basketball courts.

Duggan has overseen one of the most aggressive testing plans in the nation, collaborating with government and business leaders to establish up to 1,000 free tests a day at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. The city set up a network of doctors to provide free medical care for patients without insurance, and residents without a car can pay $2 for a ride to the fairgrounds.

In early April, at the urging of the mayor, Abbott Laboratories delivered to Detroit about 8,500 tests that produce results in 15 minutes. Detroit was one of the first cities in the nation to receive the rapid tests, which the city has used for police officers, medics, bus drivers, health care workers, and nursing home residents.

The city has expanded its testing capacity for essential employees who aren’t showing symptoms. Beginning this week, the city began requiring every grocery store employee to get tested by May 11.

The coronavirus was spreading through Detroit before the state identified its first confirmed case on March 10. By the time Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the state’s first stay-at-home order on March 24, the virus had already taken root.

With a severe testing shortage at the time, a vast majority of sick people were not able to get tested.

Among those who have died are community activist Marlowe Stoudamire, educator and poet Brenda Perryman, restaurateur Otis Knapp Lee, Detroit Fire Department Cpt. Franklin Williams, bus driver Jason Hargrove, Detroit police chaplain Valerie Parks, DJ Mike Huckaby, Detroit police homicide chief Jonathan Parnell, and state Rep. Isaac Robinson.

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