Detroit coronavirus update: Retailers to get instructions on reopening | Fairgrounds testing expands for seniors

Crain’s Detroit Business

Retailers in the city of Detroit could get “detailed plans” next week for how they can reopen safely amid the coronavirus crisis, Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday.

Michigan is in the third phase, or “flattening” phase, of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s six-phase reopening plan. Duggan said he expects the fourth phase, “improving,” to start soon — and that’s when more retailers like shoe, clothing and book shops can start reopening with restrictions. The fifth phase includes dine-in restaurants.

“I don’t know what day the governor is going to declare us in phase four,” he said during a . “I don’t have any insight into that. All I know is that when she does, Detroit businesses are going to have more support from us, opening safely, than anybody else.”

The mayor said it’s unclear whether more service-oriented businesses like hair salons, nail salons and dentists will be included in the fourth phase. But when they do reopen, the city has announced, their workers will be able to get rapid COVID-19 tests using Detroit’s Abbott Laboratories machines.

“The city of Detroit is putting together a program again to make sure that those kinds of face-to-face interactions are done as safely as anyplace,” he said.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. also said Wednesday that it finished its nearly $4 million COVID-19 relief grant program, awarding funds to 755 businesses out of more than 1,700 applicants. Officials say 81 percent of recipient businesses are owned by people of color.Testing expanded

Starting Thursday, Detroit’s main drive-thru testing site at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds will start testing older adults for COVID-19 without a doctor’s order.

Detroit residents ages 60 and older, an age bracket more likely to suffer severe symptoms from the coronavirus, can call and make appointments now, Duggan said Wednesday.

Since May 1, 84 percent of those who have died of COVID-19 in Detroit have been 60 and older, according to the city health department. Another 13 percent are 50-59 and 3 percent are 49 and younger.

Detroit has recorded more than 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, tracking 10,001 as of Wednesday. The death toll has reached 1,220, with the number of Detroit residents dying per week trending down in recent weeks.

At the fairgrounds around 7 percent-8 percent of Detroiters are testing positive, according to Duggan. So far, nearly 25,000 tests have been performed there, according to the health department. Detroit secured its own testing resources separate from the state’s and test processing contractor New Jersey-based Bioreference Labs to open the site in late March.

The latest move significantly expands coronavirus testing in Detroit. Duggan calls the city the first in Michigan to, “on a large scale basis, just (say) come on in.” The timeline for more relaxation of the requirements to be tested there is not clear, but the mayor said testing would eventually expand to those 50 and older and then all Detroit residents.

Originally, the free site at Woodward Avenue and Eight Mile Road — a collaboration among hospitals, Detroit and local county leaders — tested only residents of Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties who had symptoms and a doctor’s order. It was later expanded to essential Detroit workers.

Appointments are necessary and can be made by calling a Quicken Loans Inc.-staffed call center at (313) 230-0505.

Older adults, those 65 and older, are considered at high risk for developing severe symptoms due to COVID-19 and more likely to have other conditions that could exacerbate it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The elderly in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other grouped housing are even more likely to contract and die from the illness. The city and partners tested nearly 2,000 nursing home residents and found more than a quarter tested positive for COVID-19. At independent senior apartments, however, the testing rate so far has been 2 percent positive, according to Denise Fair, Detroit’s chief public health officer. But staff have only tested 12 buildings and 700 residents, out of around 70 buildings.

Earlier this week, the city health department said it had reached out to 79 such facilities, which aren’t licensed like nursing homes and therefore are harder to track. Now as of Wednesday, Fair says they have tallied around 100 apartment buildings and have scheduled testing at 25 facilities through the end of May. dnesday that it finished its nearly $4 million COVID-19 relief grant program, doling funds out to 755 businesses out of more than 1,700 applicants. Officials say 81 percent of recipient businesses were owned by people of color.

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