4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020


Why is Detroit seeing so many COVID-19 cases?

Mayor warns he expects situation to get worse
Posted at 6:38 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 11:02:48-04

Right now, the City of Detroit is the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in Michigan with 851 confirmed cases. As of this afternoon, Detroiters account for 15 of the state's 60 deaths.

The numbers tell the story of a city hit extraordinarily hard. While Detroit is less than 10 percent of the state’s population, it accounts for almost one-third of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

Many are asking why.

Pastor Horace Sheffield is the CEO of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations and has dedicated his life to fighting for civil justice. He sees one problem in particular leading to the spread of the virus in Detroit. He says for some people it has not been easy to get testing done quickly.

“People have to be tested. And that is just important. We need to provide free ways, quicker access, for example it shouldn’t take 10-12 days to get results,” he said.

“I was tested on the 15th, I think it was and I just got my results yesterday,” he continued.

The pastor tested positive for COVID-19. He says in hindsight he should have stayed home as the virus was first detected in the USA, but he had a meeting in New York with some people from Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is the Black Wall Street. They were trying to rebuild it.

“We were scheduled to meet with Rev. Sharpton, setting some stuff up with Mayor Bloomberg. I had been working on this for a while and didn’t want to miss this opportunity,” he said.

State Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun spoke during a press conference on Thursday about how Detroit is more at risk due to economics.

“Where you have generations of concentrated poverty and social determinants of health, when you have pandemics like this it is going to hit those places harder,” said Khaldun.

“The more dense the population is, the faster it spreads,” said Mayor Michael Duggan.

Mayor Duggan spoke about what the city is doing to help people fighting poverty stay healthy during a presser Thursday. He announced food giveaways for children who rely on school lunches and new drive-by testing for the virus that will be offered at the state fairground by appointment to people with a doctor’s prescription for a test.

You can learn more about what the city is offering to help here.

The mayor warned he expects the situation will get worse.

“I do believe we are on a trend line, if you look at our growth rate, to outpace Washington and California in total numbers relatively soon,” said Mayor Duggan.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.