Southwest Detroit nonprofit expands COVID-19 testing, services for underserved residents

Officials say southwest Detroiters are tested ‘significantly less’ for COVID-19 than the rest of the city

DETROIT – Detroit’s Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center is expanding mental health services and COVID-19 testing in southwest Detroit amid the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s where we stand today

The CHASS Center says it’s expanding services to ensure vulnerable Detroiters are protected amid the pandemic. Though they’re limiting in-person appointments, the CHASS Center has social workers available to talk over the phone.

Dr. Felix Valbuena, Jr., CEO of the CHASS Center, says calls to their domestic violence and behavioral health departments have skyrocketed since the stay-at-home order went into effect. He says levels of anxiety and depression have increased due to people isolating at home.

The center is also focusing efforts to help Detroiters get tested for COVID-19. Valbuena says that residents in southwest Detroit are being tested “significantly less than the rest of the city”.

“A lot of individuals in our community are in essential worker positions -- grocery stores and gas stations -- and they don’t have an option of staying home,” Valbuena said. “And they may not have health insurance, so this testing is going to be free whether you have insurance or not.”

The center’s drive-thru testing will begin Monday and expects to administer 50 tests a day. Current patients and southwest Detroit residents with at least one COVID-19 symptom will be eligible for a test.

Officials say residents must call ahead for an assessment. Walk ins will not be permitted.

For more information, visit the CHASS Center’s website here or call 313-849-3920.

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?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

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 and 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.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

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.

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.