Coronavirus spread lower in Detroit than neighboring counties, but still growing

Detroit officials encourage residents to report violations of coronavirus rules

Detroit and beyond: What's working, what's not and what the numbers say.

DETROIT – As COVID-19 cases climb rapidly across Michigan, Metro Detroit counties are among those struggling to contain coronavirus spread.

On Monday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan ruffled some feathers when he said Detroit businesses are shutting down due to “irresponsible behavior” in surrounding communities. County leaders didn’t appreciate being called out, but the numbers don’t lie -- coronavirus is spreading more rapidly in Oakland and Macomb counties.

Read: Macomb County a ‘pocket’ of Michigan that struggles with mask wearing, Henry Ford Health CEO says

Detroit’s positive COVID test rate is at 7.6%, while the positive test rate is 13.1% in Oakland County and 17% in Macomb County.

Just two weeks ago, however, Detroit’s positive test rate was a very low 2.3%. Detroit’s Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair says that she believes the rate has risen due to people not wearing masks and moving indoors amid the cold weather.

Still, the numbers have stayed relatively low in Detroit -- especially compared to earlier this year. The city has been working with its neighbors and businesses to make sure they take coronavirus precautions seriously, which has kept the numbers low.

Nearby cities, like Roseville, are experiencing increased virus spread. Roseville’s mayor says their city hall has shut down after 25 employees tested positive for COVID-19. The mayor believes the outbreak may be related to the volume of residents who dropped off their ballots for the General Election.

In Oakland County, Executive Dave Coulter says they are ready to roll out a new coronavirus response plan. The county will prepare for vaccine distribution while helping restaurants that are closing due to the state’s new three-week shutdown.

Detroit officials are asking residents to report violations of the new coronavirus restrictions -- and encouraging nearby regions to do the same -- in an effort to ensure cooperation and public safety.

Finger-pointing aside, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is treating Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties as one “region”.

According to state epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo, the northern part of the Detroit Region (along with the Saginaw Region and the Traverse City Region) has shown the most rapid growth rate for COVID hospitalizations during the week of Nov. 8 through Nov. 15. The Detroit Region is comprised of Genessee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne and Monroe counties.

Read: 97 takeaways from epidemiologist’s deep-dive into Michigan COVID-19 spread, deaths, future outlook

The region, along with the rest of the state, is currently labeled at risk level “E” for coronavirus spread -- the worst risk level possible. On Wednesday, the state reported 5,772 new COVID-19 cases and 62 new deaths since Tuesday, totaling 277,806 cases and 8,190 deaths overall.

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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

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