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Detroit mayor hopeful slowing COVID-19 growth will mean fewer field hospital beds needed

Workers set up hospital beds at the TCF Center field hospital in Detroit.
Paulette Parker
Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city may not need all of the 1,000 beds set up at the TCF Center

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has been transforming the former Cobo Center into a COVID-19 field hospital. The center is expected to start accepting patients this week.    

But Duggan says instead of hundreds of patients, the field hospital may only be getting a couple dozen a day.

“It’s early to tell but if we do this right, we might not have to have a thousand beds at the TCF Center,” says Duggan.

The state health department says the city of Detroit has recorded 251 deaths and 5,824 positive tests.  The city accounts for roughly a significant share of COVID-19 cases in Michigan.     

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan crossed 20,000 Wednesday. The number of coronavirus deaths during the pandemic now stands at 959 in Michigan.   

While the number of coronavirus deaths in Detroit is still rising, the rate that the number of deaths doubles is slowing noticeably.   

Duggan credits Detroiters engaging in social distancing for a slowing of the growth of the disease.

But there’s one group that Duggan is not happy with: People riding city buses not on essential trips. The mayor wants those riders to get off the bus and stop potentially spreading the virus.

Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Duggan is lobbying Congress for hazard pay for local first responders.

Duggan says he would like to give a pay boost to police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and bus drivers because they come into contact with the general public and are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

But at the same time Duggan is working to get more pay for some city workers, he admits other city workers may be facing cuts because of a growing budget deficit.

“We’re trying to balance that.  And I think in the next day or two we’ll reach a conclusion,” says Duggan.

The mayor worries the city of Detroit could lose self-determination if it can’t solve its estimated $100 million dollar budget deficit caused by the COVID-19 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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