Apr 1, 2020

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan COVID-19 Press Briefing April 1

Mike Duggan Detroit Mayor April 1 Coronavirus Update
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsDetroit Mayor Mike Duggan COVID-19 Press Briefing April 1

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan held a press conference on April 1 on the coronavirus in the city. Detroit is one of the hardest hit US cities by the coronavirus. Read the full transcript of his press briefing.


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Mayor Mike Duggan: (00:10)
Good afternoon. Today I’m joined by the County Executive Warren Evans, by the head of Detroit At Work Nicole Sherard-Freeman, and as always Denise Fair. Let me give you an update on what’s happened in the last 24 hours, and start where we normally do, with the Detroit Police Department. I think as we’ve been talking about, we have dramatically accelerated the testing of all of our officers. As of today, we have 91 employees of the Detroit Police Department that have tested positive for COVID-19, and 17 employees of the Detroit Fire Department.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (00:59)
Today we have 525 officers who are quarantine, but I’m pleased to report 120 officers have returned to work and are back on the job. We are speeding up the testing process. We are speeding up everything about this to get our healthy officers back. We have 136 members of the Detroit Fire Department currently quarantined and isolated.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (01:27)
Last night, again, the 911 response time was excellent. It was about 10 minutes. We are benefiting enormously from a major reduction in crime, and 911 calls, that’s, I’m certain, resulting from the shelter and place order, same thing that the city of New York has seen, but the fact that Detroiters are pulling together in this way is making it possible for us to continue to run smoothly at the Detroit police and fire departments until we can get the rest of our officers back.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (02:07)
The process is pretty interesting now as I’ve talked about before, we put a thermometer on everyone at the Detroit police and fire department as they come into work and then… I got two alerts this morning. The first two. We had one officer who came in over a hundred degrees, and one firefighter who came in over a hundred degrees, and were immediately sent home. This is the rigor that maybe had Michigan bend a little later in the process we would have known to put in place, but I’m talking to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Friday, and they all want to talk about if you had known earlier what to do, what would you have done?

Mayor Mike Duggan: (02:43)
And yesterday I noticed I was doing an MSNBC interview and there was a police officer in Miami standing right next to the reporter with a microphone. I said, you would never see that in Michigan again, is parts of this country still don’t get what separation means. There’s something about us that until you see the virus having an effect, we don’t act, but I’m going to be talking to my fellow mayors on Friday about the actions you need to take before the virus hits your community and certainly we would have put much more distance between our police officers earlier.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (03:23)
Denise Fair’s going to give you the numbers but our positive tests, for Detroit, has jumped about 400 this is a function of our very successful testing program, and you’re going to see the number of Detroiters who test positive climb by significant numbers every single day. And I am going to ask maybe for some self reflection on the part of the media in the way this story is being reported. It’s been disturbing to me to see stories written about why is Detroit a hotspot, with all kinds of theories about poverty and people not taking care of their health.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (04:08)
I’ll tell you what I find so disturbing, one of the wealthiest communities in New York, New Rochelle had the first major outbreak on the East coast, Middlesex County in Massachusetts, a very well off County, has a significant outbreak of Coronavirus. And here in Michigan it has been the city of Detroit and Oakland County that has had the highest concentration, but nobody goes and writes stories about why is New Rochelle a hotspot? Why is Middlesex County a hotspot? Why is Oakland County a hotspot? Why is Oakland County got higher death rates than suburban [inaudible 00:04:51] in Western Wayne.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (04:54)
And so it seems to give people lead to throw out whatever theories they want about why a poor city like Detroit is a hotspot. I spoke to Dr. Mark [inaudible 00:05:05] this morning who was also deeply disturbed by this coverage. And he said, there is no evidence that the Coronavirus checks your bank account before it jumps to you. There’s no evidence that this spreads more quickly among the poor than the wealthy. In fact, the overall history of the country is the opposite. And so we have a very serious problem in the city.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (05:32)
We lost a number of other members of our community even yesterday, but Detroit is hit early for the same reason Oakland County has hit early, for the same reason Kings County, Washington was hit early, for the same reason. New Rochelle, New York was hit early. Somebody brought the virus into this community early on. It spread in this community before we knew what was happening and the places in this country that are getting hit are the places that were infected first and now we are working together with I think, great leadership and the governor to fight it off.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (06:08)
I would just ask you in the media, just reflect on what you’re writing. And when I see a headline, when you have essentially the same number of fatalities in Detroit and Oakland County, and yet I see a headline yesterday a Detroit has one third of all the deaths in Michigan and you say, “Wait a minute, what prompted you when you had two entities of the same level to pick one and put it in the headline.” I’m just asking that that maybe you reflect in the way that you are covering this.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (06:43)
We have more progress that is being made to help our businesses. Yesterday we sat here and Kevin Johnson rolled out a $3.1 million fund for small businesses. Today I’m partnering with County executive Warren Evans, and thanks to the support of the state of Michigan MEDC, the Michigan strategic fund, there’s another $1.6 million that are available. And so since we announced this yesterday, we’ve had 300 companies that have already applied for the 2,500 to $10,000 support to keep going. And now with the County executive support, we’re adding another 1.6 million, and we’re going to run a single program. You only apply once. And the County executive and I have put our staffs together in a single team to make it easy for you. And with that I’ll turn it over to Warren Evans to talk about the details of how this is going to work.

Warren Evans: (07:45)
Well, thank you Mr. Mayor. I appreciate it. And I’ll also co-sign your sentiments about reporting. We’re clearly in a crisis here and the County and the city have seen fit to partner in an application with the state for a small business grant funding. The funding will be generally kept between 2000 and $10,000, but one of the things that’s really important about is the speed with which these efforts are going on. The County also last week put together a program, a $10 million program for small businesses in Wayne County. And while this virus has been speedy and spreading, and the significance of our testing quickly, and social distancing the way it needs to be, we also need to provide speedy relief to our small businesses.

Warren Evans: (08:49)
I also echo the mayor sentiments in how quickly and positively people have been responding to apply for the funds. They are grant funds in this program with Wayne Count’s economic development and the DEGC tune of about $1.6 million. We want to get that in the hands of the qualified businesses as quickly as we can so that they’re able to keep sustaining themselves. It’s April the first everybody knows what ha what happens the first of the month, your bills come due, and when the revenue’s not coming due of that’s an issue. So we think it’s a great program, and mayor thank you very much for partnering with us to do it and if there are other questions later we’d be happy to answer.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (09:41)
Thank you Mr. County Executive for those who are sitting at home and want to make money whether you’ve been laid off or would like to go back to work, everything is not being cut right now. There are 1100 jobs available for Detroiters where people are hiring right now. They are in the essential industries, and they are jobs like working at the grocery stores at Meyers, at CVS, at Mike’s fresh market. They’re hiring both for the retail clerks and for people stocking the shelves. We’ve got a number of companies hiring drivers, companies like Black and Mobile that serve 10 different restaurants taking food to residents’ homes, and U.S. Ice transporting dry ice for storage.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (10:32)
Henry Ford health system is hiring folks from the people who push the wheelchairs to the people who clean the rooms. There are 1100 jobs that if you go to Detroit at work, you could be working really in a matter of a couple of days. Four weeks ago, Nicole Sherard-Freeman was hiring for the Chrysler plant on the East side. The world has changed and now we’re hiring for the jobs that are open today, but there are opportunities. With that, I’ll turn it over to Nicole Sherard-Freeman to talk about what’s out there and how you go about applying for it.

Nicole Sherard-Freeman: (11:12)
Thank you mayor and thanks for your leadership on this. So as the mayor said, there are more than 1100 jobs open right now and we want to direct you to detroitatwork.com, just like we did for FCA, you go to detroitatwork.com, you scroll down to the Ready To Hire Initiative is a special call out button. You click on that. You give us a little bit of information about yourself so that we can also connect you with other resources, and then you can apply for the jobs that the mayor has mentioned along with many others.

Nicole Sherard-Freeman: (11:43)
Now some of these jobs require a customer contact, but many of them do not. So some of the delivery driver roles don’t require any contact you’re loading into the back of the truck or off the back of the truck, it doesn’t require you to come in contact with any people. There are loaders, there’s a distribution company over on East Eight Mile that’s looking for loaders at about $14 an hour.

Nicole Sherard-Freeman: (12:06)
So many of these jobs pay in the 10 to $12 an hour range, but there’s also a wide range of jobs that pay $14 an hour or more, and these companies are either expanding their businesses as a result of the virus or they are backfilling workers who need some time off. So I just to ask you to go to detroitatwork.com, or if you don’t have access to the internet, I’m going to ask you to call 313-962-WORK. Again, that’s 313-962, W-O-R-K, WORK and we can help you by linking you with an opportunity that fits your interests and your skills. Thanks mayor.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (12:51)
Thanks Nicole. And we close always with the hardest part of these sessions to update you on the impact on our neighbors. I just came from visiting the New Field Hospital that the Army Corps of engineers is so skillfully setting up at the TCF center. It’s going to have in the range of 750 beds if we need them. And the governor and I went over and visited. It’s very impressive. I very much hope we don’t need it. If we can listen to what Director Fair is saying about social distancing, there is still a chance that we can avoid it. But we’re preparing as if the surge is still coming, and if we hit the point where we can’t take care of all of our sick neighbors in the hospitals.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (13:47)
So the plan is to have several hundred beds at the TCF Center for Coronavirus patients. The idea would be that if you come off the ventilator in your recovering, that you’re moved from the hospitals and recover over at the field hospital of the TCF center to make room for other patients to be on the ventilators and other patients to occupy the hospital beds. You can’t look at that hospital and not be hit by the magnitude of what our community is going through. And with that, for the update on the latest numbers, Director Fair.

Director Denise Fair: (14:29)
Thank you Mayor Duggan. And again, thank you for your leadership. So as of today, there are 2,483 confirmed cases, and 82 confirmed deaths. Now as compared to yesterday, this is 400 more positive cases and nine more deaths. Again, just from yesterday. Now, we’re going to see the number of cases continue to increase because of the work that we’re doing now at the drive through testing at the state fairgrounds, and again, this is what we should be doing. We are testing, so again, you’re going to see the numbers continue to rise.

Director Denise Fair: (15:10)
We know that this virus has no geographic boundaries, and COVID-19 has been and will continue to be an equal opportunity virus. Now we don’t have all the answers. However, as more residents continue to get tested, we’ll have a greater understanding of the how and the why and we are looking at our data. We’ve noticed that cases are all across the city of Detroit.

Director Denise Fair: (15:37)
Now, the role of the Detroit Health Department is to provide communication, education, surveillance, and emergency preparedness towards ensuring the health and safety of our community. Now, because COVID-19 has no boundaries, we need to do our part. We need to heed the governor’s executive order, which is staying at home. And I know I sound like a broken record, but I want to make sure people are listening. Stay home. If we stay home, we will help to slow the spread of COVID-19. And it’s time that we hold ourselves accountable and those that we love, because what we choose to do or what we don’t choose to do will impact others.

Director Denise Fair: (16:23)
Please visit the Detroit Health Department. We have the latest information on our website at detroitmi.gov/coronavirus. You can also call us, if you have questions or concerns, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (313) 876-4000. And again, I will say please stay home so that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 what that I’ll turn it over to the mayor.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (16:47)
So a few other items before we take questions. The testing equipment from Abbott labs arrived today. It’s being set up right now, and it’s becoming clear that Detroit will be the first city in the country to use the 15 minute testing to test our police officers, firefighters, EMTs and our bus drivers so that we know right away the results, and that’s going to be up and running in the next 24 hours. For those in the media that want images of it, I’m sure John Roach will figure out how to work that out before we start having patients come through.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (17:26)
We had another 600 people tested at the fairgrounds today. We’ve booked 3000 appointments at this point and we’re getting a lot more calls from folks who have now gotten a doctor because of the 22 new doctor’s offices, and as of now it’s 25, we’ve had three more added since yesterday. There are 25 doctors offices in the city that will take new patients. Most of them don’t care whether you’re insured or not. You can sign up.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (17:55)
We had a number of transportation companies come forward and we’re negotiating the agreements now. I’m very hopeful that by Friday those individuals in our city who don’t have a car don’t have transportation, that we will have a means to get you a ride to the drive through testing center to make those tests available to every single Detroiter, and we’re working out the details right now, but basically the cab services and the transportation services will just be brought right to the front of the line so they can go straight through, take the patient back home and the transportation companies can continue to do their work. And so I think we’ll have more on that in the next 24 to 48 hours. But we’re going to keep going until we get everybody in the city to have equal access to testing.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (18:50)
Senator Stabenow says that the FEMA 200,000 swabs are on the way, but so far nobody spotted the FEMA truck. But we are continuing to pull together swabs and test kits from different areas, and I’m hopeful before the end of next week, we have enough materials to be up to a thousand tests a day. The fairgrounds program, I know a lot of folks have gone through it and the reaction I’m getting is almost universally positive in their experience. With that, we’ll take any questions.

Speaker 5: (19:28)
Mayor, before the reporters come up to the microphone, we’ve got one question wanting to know, this could be there for you or chief fare in terms of whether it’s time to go beyond just social distancing and encouraging people to always wear a mask when they go outdoors.

Mayor Mike Duggan: (19:44)
So the question is, and I’ll let the director talk about it. Basically I put a mask on from my car to in a building and back, if I think there’s going to be random interactions. And the mask does as much to keep you from potentially spreading germs to somebody else. And so we’re going to follow the State guidelines and the Federal guidelines. But I see more and more people walking, riding bikes with masks. I think it’s a good thing and I’ll give it to our health professional to ask her opinion Director.

Director Denise Fair: (20:25)
Sure. I think as a precautionary measure, if you feel as though the mask will protect you, then by all means. I think it’s important that we do follow the CDC guidelines as well as the state.

Speaker 5: (20:38)
Mr. Mayor Ross Jones wants to know what measures are being taken to ensure that the city’s EMS operators are able to meet the growing demand for as COVID spreads, and are there any plans to add additional resources?

Mayor Mike Duggan: (20:52)
I’m sorry I missed the middle of that question.

Speaker 5: (20:55)
So as COVID spreads, are we doing anything to prepare for a surge in EMS runs?

Mayor Mike Duggan: (21:00)
Well, we’ve had a surg in EMS runs, and our EMS workers are doing a terrific job. So the answer is yes, we check the staffing every single day. We have been extremely fortunate that while we’ve had a lot of positive COVID-19 among police officers, we’ve had very little among EMTs. Our EMTs are so used to protecting themselves from communicable diseases 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I think maybe they were better prepared. But I talk to a Fire Commissioner Eric Jones every day, and so far it’s the EMT are doing a great job.

Speaker 5: (21:51)
And he’d like to know, do you foresee a time when we might need to bring in additional resources?

Mayor Mike Duggan: (21:55)
I’m not in the business of predicting the future. We’re prepared. We have preparation plans for all alternatives, but most of the folks who are heading in on COVID-19 aren’t going in an ambulance. Some do, but.

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