As COVID-19 Cases Surge in Michigan, Detroit Expands Vaccination Program

The mass vaccination site will schedule indoor walk-up appointments starting April 5 in addition to the drive-thru already in place.

The Detroit Health Department is expanding its daily coronavirus vaccine capacity. Starting Monday, the TCF Center mass vaccination site is expected to provide 8,000 shots every day — up from 5,000 per day — and is adding an option for walk-thru immunizations. 

“Whatever you get for the first dose, you’re going to do exactly the same thing for the second dose,” Mayor Mike Duggan says. 

“We have to knock these infection rates down, because it is relatively young people gathering in crowds that is causing the hospitals to start to fill up.” — Mayor Mike Duggan 

Detroit’s Chief Operating Officer Hakim Berry oversees the city’s vaccine program. He says walk-up appointments have worked well at the city’s weekend community vaccination sites. 

“We’ve seen the success during the week at our pop-ups. We’ve seen the success at Ford Field as well, where they’re seeing about 5,000 a day. So we thought this was a great opportunity to expand the service to Detroiters,” Berry says.  

It’s the latest expansion of the city’s vaccination efforts. On Monday, Detroit announced it was expanding eligibility to all Detroiters 16 and older and opening a mass vaccination site at Northwest Activities Center.

The vaccine expansion comes as Michigan encounters the most cases of COVID-19 seen in a day since the beginning of December. More than 6,300 new cases were reported Wednesday, and more than 200 Detroiters are hospitalized. 

According to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, patients hospitalized for COVID-19 who are younger than 40 years old have doubled this month. 

“We have to knock these infection rates down, because it is relatively young people gathering in crowds that is causing the hospitals to start to fill up,” Duggan says. 

Duggan says in the coming weeks the TCF Center will offer exclusive Saturday appointments for family members of city employees. Officials in charge of the program say — so far — more than 35% of the city’s 9,000 employees have been vaccinated. 

City of Detroit/Flickr
City of Detroit/Flickr

Police to Tigers Fans: No Ticket? No Tailgating 

About 8,000 people are expected to attend the Detroit Tigers’ opening day at Comerica Park Thursday. But city officials are asking fans without tickets to refrain from tailgating and gathering in large groups. 

Duggan says the Detroit Police Department will fine bars and restaurants that violate the 50% capacity order. 

“I know Chief Craig would like to write no tickets to anybody outside the stadium,” he says. 

Beaumont Expanding COVID-19 Unit 

Health officials say the more contagious B117 coronavirus, also known as the U.K. variant, is spreading in Michigan. 

Beaumont Health, which leads the state in treating coronavirus patients, is expanding its COVID-19 unit due to the surge. 

Dr. Nick Gilpin, a medical director with Beaumont Health, says the rise of the new variant is converging with other transmission factors.  

“We’re seeing a relaxing in the restrictions, we’re seeing more large gatherings. We’re also seeing more people traveling to places because of spring break,” he says. 

Beaumont leads the state in treating COVID-19 with more than 500 patients. The hospital system is re-establishing visitation restrictions during the surge.   

“This will look a lot like what we experienced back in the fall and winter months when we had to restrict visitors at that time,” Gilpin says. 

“We’re clearly not out of this yet.” 

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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.