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Detroit sends team to check homeless population for coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

Mayor also encourages residents to support local businesses

DETROIT – A team of nurses and medical staff is checking on homeless people in Detroit to make sure they get proper health care as coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads.

“We need to make sure to take care of our most vulnerable citizens," Mayor Mike Duggan said.

Watch a press conference Duggan held Monday above.

Duggan is concerned that the virus will spread among homeless people because they don’t have access to health care and are often in close proximity to one another.

He said the team will visit people in all of the city’s 31 homeless shelters and warming centers. If someone shows symptoms of coronavirus, they will be isolated until they can be tested and receive care.

There will also hopefully be a street team to check on homeless people on the streets, officials said. People in shelters will the first priority because they are in close quarters.

Duggan also encouraged residents to get carryout from restaurants.

READ: Michigan governor shuts down bars, restaurants dine-in service

“We want to support our business owners," he said.

Beginning Tuesday, business owners who have parking meters in front of their eatery can petition to have the area marked as a free curbside food pickup zone. A link will be posted to the city website for restaurant owners to ask for this.

Additionally, Duggan noted that eviction proceedings are currently suspended.

“We don’t need people being put out in the middle of this," Duggan said.

MORE: Here’s which Michigan counties have confirmed cases of coronavirus

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MORE: Beaumont Health launches coronavirus hotline for patients with symptoms

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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