Detroit Acquires More Test Kits to Battle New COVID-19 Hot Spots

Shelters, nursing homes have become critical areas to stop the spread of COVID-19, as racial disparities in cases become clear.

With more test kits on hand, Detroit is shifting its COVID-19 resources to new outbreaks, focusing on homeless shelters and nursing homes.

Half of Detroit’s nursing homes have reported cases of COVID-19 with more than 140 infections and 11 deaths. Mayor Mike Duggan said the Detroit Fire Department will have designated EMTs test all residents on-site, regardless of their symptoms.

“The black community must step up more than anyone else because we are being attacked on an unprecedented level.” — Rep. Brenda Lawrence, (D-Detroit)

Nursing homes have “now become the center of the battle in the city of Detroit,” Duggan said. 

The city is reporting 13 cases of COVID-19 at its homeless shelters with no deaths. Executive planning director Arthur Jemison says homeless residents are medically vulnerable.

“We’ve done some contact tracing, they are talking to and seeing almost a hundred people a day in some cases,” Jemison said. 

Detroit is holding more than 30 homeless people in a quarantine facility.

New Test Kits

Courtesy of Abbott Laboratories
Courtesy of Abbott Laboratories

The city is securing 10,000 COVID-19 test kits from the automaker Hyundai, as well as more “rapid” test equipment that give results in 15-minutes.

Duggan says half the kits will be used on residents in nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence led the effort to secure the kits from Hyundai, which will supply the testing site at the Michigan State Fairgrounds to increase its daily capacity.

Lawrence says responding to the disease is a personal issue.

“As an African-American, my heart’s broken because so many people, you see their names on TV, I had relationships with, I had memories,” Lawrence said. “The black community must step up more than anyone else because we are being attacked on an unprecedented level.”

Evident Racial Disparities

According to city data, African Americans account for more than three out of four COVID-19 deaths in Detroit.

“Now we know that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Denise Fair, city healthy director.

Michigan is forming a task force to address racial disparities in the state’s COVID-19 outbreak, which will include Detroit. 

Mayor Duggan says he spent years addressing racial disparities in health as chief of the Detroit Medical Center, and will work with the state on the issue.

“I got a whole lot of recommendations, but I will save those for the taskforce,” Duggan said. 

Detroit is reporting over 6,000 cases of COVID-19, and more than 270 deaths. The city has the fifth-largest African American population in the country.

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  • Eli Newman
    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.