As Covid marks a year in Michigan, two takes on how Detroit is doing

March 07, 2021, 8:24 AM

Crain's Detroit Business uses the approaching anniversary of Covid-19 in Michigan to single out the city for praise in how Mayor Mike Duggan's administration has handled the pandemic. 

Drive-through coronavirus testing in Detroit.

Annalise Frank looks back over a year that started with the city becoming one of the nation's hottest disease centers, but ended with a smoothly run testing and vaccination operation: 

Putting the right people in the right places at the right times was to be a key cog in a machine that has run at a breakneck pace over the past year, as the city faced down one of the nation's earliest and worst Covid-19 outbreaks and fought back.

... Duggan, meanwhile, did what he does: used his business connections. The second-term mayor who's running for re-election this year secured test-processing capacity through his relationship with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. And he called the CEO of medical device maker Abbott Laboratories on a Sunday evening to directly negotiate a contract for testing kits while much of the country scrambled for those supplies.


And those early efforts paid off:

The city brought down its percent-positive testing rate to under 3 percent in June, from highs above 50 percent. Factors like who is getting tested and how many tests are run affect percent-positive rates, but the major decrease is still an indicator. In the second wave of the pandemic, Detroit's rate increased but remained under 10 percent. The state's rate, for comparison, rose to the low teens, ranging above 15 percent in December.

The mayor should be happy with that story. But turn to The Detroit News, and Nolan Finley has his knickers twisted over the inequity of Detroit getting enough vaccines that it can turn some away, while up in Macomb ...

Mark Hackel is fuming.

On a day when the Macomb County executive was scrambling to find enough COVID-19 vaccines to cover 5,500 nursing home patients who still haven't received doses, he turned on the news to hear Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan saying "no thanks" to more than 6,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson shots. (Duggan later said he'd take the supply.)

"If he’s not really needing them for his residents, why is he getting them?" Hackel asks. "He's turning them down while I still can't get shots for all of my cognitive-care patients."

The problem, Hackel and Finley say, is the social vulnerability index, which has the state sending more vaccines to Detroit than the suburban county. Hackel points out that he can't get enough shots to vaccinate the people who are now receiving them in Detroit -- manufacturing workers, grocery clerks and security guards, among others. 

Karma doesn't figure in the social vulnerability index, but it seems worthy of mention that while Hackel has urged mask-wearing and other public-health practices to curb the spread, his constituents have the highest rate of mask noncompliance in the metro area. If only bullheadedness were factored into that index, they'd be swimming in vaccines now.


Covid announcements from March 2020 show a state waking up to fear and uncertainty

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