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Detroit mourns the death of Michigan's youngest COVID-19 victim, amid signs of progress

Many in Michigan are mourning the death of five-year-old Skylar Herbert, the state’s youngest victim of COVID-19. She died on Sunday. 

Her parents are a Detroit city police officer and a city firefighter. 

Mayor Mike Duggan called her “a true daughter of the city of Detroit.”

“Skylar was one of 47 we’ve lost in the last three days,” Duggan said on Monday.

641 people havedied in Detroit since the pandemic began. 

But there are signs that efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus are working in Michigan’s largest city.

Mayor Mike Duggan says Detroit’s hospitals are reporting COVID-19 patient volumes are down from earlier this month.

“The progress is great,” says Duggan. “But we’re at a dangerous time.”

Duggan says countries that thought they had brought COVID-19 under control and relaxed restrictions, suffered a second spike in cases.

The mayor says in the future contact tracing will be an important tool in Detroit’s fight against the spread of COVID-19.  

Contact tracing enables health workers to track people who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.

Duggan says he has talked with the CDC about helping the city developing a “contact tracing” program for COVID-19, though the mayor says contact tracing is not a “focal point” for Detroit’s COVID-19 efforts at the moment.

“When you are at a point now where you have 7,000 infected people confirmed in the city, and we easily have double that, it doesn’t necessarily do a lot of good today,” says Duggan. “However contact tracing is going to be important in the not too distant future.”

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.