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Duggan: 'Glimmer of light' in fight with COVID-19, though huge budget deficit growing

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin
Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
GM's Headquarters in Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says Michigan’s biggest city is seeing a “glimmer of light” in its fight against COVID-19.

According to the state, 222 Detroiters have died from COVID-19 during the outbreak.    

A few weeks ago, Detroit’s death toll was doubling every two or three days. But as the numbers have climbed, the rate that overall number doubled increased to four or five days.

Duggan says that’s a sign “social distancing” is helping slow the spread of the disease.

“The storm’s not over,” Duggan said during his daily COVID-19 briefing. “But for the first time we can see we can beat this and we can beat it in weeks not months.”

However, Duggan is concerned more Spring-like weather may convince some Detroiters to let their guard down.

“If the weather warms up tomorrow and people go back outside and cluster in groups, this will very quickly rise back to doubling every three or four days,” says Duggan.

Starting Wednesday. people riding city buses in Detroit will be able to get a free face mask.

The City of Detroit Department of Transportation is getting 20 thousand masks from the state.

“As the passengers board the bus, they’ll see this box along with a sign and a request to please take one,” says Hakim Berry, the city’s Chief Operating Officer. 

Berry admits they are concerned some people may take more than one mask. 

The city is also going to start aggressively testing nursing home patients and employees.

And the city is ramping up testing at the former state fairgrounds.

All of this is costing the city of Detroit money is does not have. 

Shuttered businesses mean tax dollars flowing into city coffers has slowed too.

Mayor Mike Duggan is predicting the COVID-19 pandemic is going to leave the city with a budget deficit of more than $100 million.

He expects the city will have to face “painful cuts”, after the pandemic is dealt with.

“We’re going to spend what we need to take care of our residents and then as a community we’re going to have to deal with the fact that we’ve got a major budget deficit,” says Duggan. “I’ll worry about that in a week or two right now we got to break the back of this virus.”

Duggan says Detroit is not alone when it comes to major budget deficits tied to the pandemic.    

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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.
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