Wednesday Virus Updates: Wayne Sheriff's Commander Dies | Michigan nears 2,300 cases | Ford hospitals full

March 25, 2020, 8:25 PM

Coronavirus cases are climbing more quickly in Detroit than they did early on in New York City, the nation's epicenter of the outbreak; a Detroit police captain is among the dead in Michigan, where the toll on Tuesday climbed to 24 and 1,791 confirmed cases; and new cases are being reported throughout Michigan's prisons.

Commander Donafay Collins on March 11 posted this Facebook photo, taken earlier. "This flu is no joke," he said.

More news from Wednesday:

♦ Commander Donafay Collins, a 63-year-old veteran of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, died from the virus Wednesday. 

"He was a valued member of my executive team," Sheriff Benny Napoleon told Deadline Detroit Wednesday night. "He was one of the people who continued to improve himself. He recently finished his master's degree at the University of Michigan."

"It's a big big loss, not just for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office but for the community at large."

On March 11, exactly two weeks before he succumbed, the law enforcer posted on Facebook about what he thought was flu: "I'm not taking a photo of how I look at the moment. This Flu is no joke!!!! I haven't had to ask for prayers, but can ya'll send me some Get Well Brother responses. I feel like Sh*t!!!" 

Eighteen sheriff's office employees have tested positive for COVID-19. (Fox 2 News)

♦ Fresh statistics from Lansing show 507 new cases of the serious lung disease caused by coronavirus. The cumulative total is 2,295 -- 28% higher than Tuesday. 

The state's official pandemic death toll is 43, up from 24 a day earlier. All victims lived in Southeast Michigan except one, who was from Kent County on the state's western side.

Among diagnosed cases added Wednesday afternoon are 142 in Detroit, 107 in western Wayne, 115 in Oakland and 56 in Macomb.

Patients from Detroit with COVID-19 total 705 now, while the rest of the three-county area has 1,241 confirmed cases.

♦ Beaumont Health system, which operates eight metro Detroit hospitals, reports it's nearing capacity. To make due, it's shifting patients to less crowded hospitals as needed and plans to convert some operating rooms into intensive care units (Detroit News). Supplies, including personal protective equipment for medical workers and mechanical ventilators for patients, are also running low.

♦ Hospitals are filling up across the state, with 80 percent of a total 25,000 acute-care beds occupied and a surge of nearly 16,000 more COVID-19 patients expected in the next ten days. Specialty hospitals, universities and even venues like Lexus Velodrome are hoping to fill the gap. (Crains)

♦ Two Birmingham schools staffers have tested positive for COVID-19. They're from Berkshire Middle School and Seaholm High School. (WXYZ)

♦ Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter continues to lead the way in preventative measures. He's ordered all businesses remaining open to screen workers for fever, a symptom of the virus. (WXYZ)

♦ More than 250 Detroit police officers, 21 firefighters and EMTs are in quarantine. (The Detroit News)

♦ TCF Bank and Wayne County are each committing $3 million to a low-interest loan fund for small business in the county. Borrowing can start as early as next week. (Crain's)

The state has also freed up $20 million in emergency loans and grants for small businesses (WDET). Additional loans are available through the Small Business Administration.

♦ The Free Press has postponed its annual film festival until December. (Free Press)

♦ A warehouse worker at Amazon's fulfillment center in Shelby Township has COVID-19, the company confirms. Employees diagnosed with the virus or in self-quarantine because of close contact with carriers get up to two weeks of pay. (WDIV)

♦ Last week was the best week of recreational marijuana sales the state has recorded since the first retailers opened Dec. 1. (Crain's Detroit Business)

♦ Michigan politicos and business leaders plan to convene for their yearly conference on Mackinac in August, rather than in late May.

♦ Michigan has three times more coronavirus cases than Ohio, even though the states reported their first cases around the same time. It's hard to tell why. (

Data analysis by Unacast.

♦ On average, Michigan is excelling at social distancing, according to data compiled by a company that tracked the movement of mobile phones. The state gets in A-rating in the study, as do Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

♦ The DIA this week gave local hospitals Tyvek suits, swabs, masks, P95 mask cartridges, wiping cloths and 3,000 nitrile gloves from its supply. The museum's conservation, collections management and curatorial teams often use protective equipment to preserve the health of the museum's artworks, it says on Twitter.

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