Friday virus news: 205 die in state's largest daily toll | Hazard pay for Detroit workers | TCF beds open

April 10, 2020, 3:27 PM by  Alan Stamm

(Graphic: State of Michigan)

Pandemic news on this Good Friday is bad.

State health officials post 205 deaths since Thursday, a single-day record during the month-old crisis. It propels the three-week toll to 1,279. 

On Thursday, 117 new deaths were added -- so Friday's jump is significant. "We're not out of the woods yet," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweets. She directs that U.S. and Michigan flags fly at half-staff on state buildings indefinitely "to honor and mourn those who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus."

Since the first pair of cases March 10, 22,783 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in Michigan, including an unknown number who've recovered.

At the same time, a possible turn toward brighter days seems evident as hospitals report that Covid admissions are stabilizing.

(Graphic: Department of Health and Human Services)


Diagnosed cases rose by 1,279 in the past 24 hours – an increase of 5.9% since Thursday and the latest sign of a possible plateau. (Last Friday, new cases climbed 18%. Exactly two weeks ago, they went up 28%.)

And not everyone counted as diagnosed is in intensive care or even still hospitalized. Here's more context Friday from an AP reporter in Lansing:

Demographic breakdowns show:

  • More women (52%) than men (46%) have been diagnosed with Covid statewide.

  • But more men (57%) die from the lung infection. Michigan women make up 42% of deaths so far.

  • Those who’ve died were 20 to 107 years old.

  • Their median age was 74.

Detroit's cumulative caseload is 6,218 and its death toll reaches 327. Oakland and suburban Wayne fatalities are close behind at 282 each.

The three metro counties, including Macomb, account for 1,088 deaths -- 85% of Michigan's total from the disease.

Friday’s overall tally includes 18,023 patients from Detroit and its surrounding three counties (79% of the total). 

Here are confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths since mid-March in areas around Detroit:

  • Oakland: 4,511 cases | 282 deaths

  • Wayne (except Detroit): 4,321 cases | 282 deaths

  • Macomb: 2,973 cases | 197 deaths

Danger Pay in Detroit

Detroit first responders and employees who interact with the public will see a hazard pay boost of about $800 per month starting Monday. Mayor Mike Duggan says departments to receive pay increases include police, fire, EMS, general services, water and sewerage, transportation, and building, safety engineering and environmental (BSEED).

"I wish we could do more ... but next week I'm going to be rolling out $100 million in budget cuts," Duggan said. "So I had to balance the needs ... against the pain that all 9,000 [city] employees will feel."

The increases will remain in place until Whitmer's shelter-in-place order is "significantly" eased. Duggan said they could not legally be applied retroactively.

TCF field hospital opens

Medical supplies at TCF Regional Health Care Center (Photo: Michael Lucido)

Four Detroit hospitals will manage what's now called the TCF Regional Health Care Center, due to receive 25 patients Friday and another two dozen of so by Saturday.

Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Beaumont Health and the Detroit Medical Center are "providing critical support, staffing and resources," the governor's office posts.

The overflow facility opens Friday, 11 days after the Army Corps of Engineers and TCF workers began transforming Michigan's biggest convention center into its first field hospital to help handle the surge of Covid patients.

Military engineers now are repeating the process at Novi's Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, where the Ascension Michigan hospital group will manage medical care.

Each care center will have 1,000 beds, but no intensive care unit or ventilators. They're is for transfers from acute-care hospitals, not walk-in patients or those arriving by self-booked ambulances.

Staffing is provided at first through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Defense, and later will be supplemented by medical students, professionals answering a state appeal and recruits enlisted by staffing agencies.

More than 16,400 medical workers -- retirees and others -- have responded to a March 28 request by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She eased licensing and certification requirements to attract skilled volunteers such as out-of-state medical practitioners and medical students near graduation.

The state hired three executives to run the new Regional Health Care Center, the Freep reports: 

  • Lynn Torossian, a Milford health care consultant, is chief executive. She's a past president and CEO of Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield, as well as a former president of Harper Hutzel Hospital in Detroit and Huron Valley-Sinai Grace Hospital in Commerce Township. 

  • Dr. Jenny Atas, and emergeny medical physician who heads a three-county hospital advisory coalition, is chief medical officer. She'll set up and run a triage protocol.

  • Dan Medrano is chief operating officer. He's corporate vice president for facilities management at McLaren Health in Grand Blanc.

UM pulls back on field hospital

Ann Arbor also was due to have backup beds available today in case UM Medical Center got too jammed, but plans are on hold now for a field hospital at an indoor track in the South Athletics Facility on State Street. That's because the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Washtenaw County area has slowed.

"It appears from current Covid-19 cases and modeling that the curve is significantly flattening, says Mary Masson of Michigan Medicine, according to The Detroit News. "We are in communication with state officials to coordinate and determine future need."

Policy shift by Ascension

Doctors at Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Madison Heights (Photo: Ascension Michigan)

The Warren-based hospital network updates its staff reassignment policy after nurses and their union complained. Under the new approach, nurses, pharmacists and other medical staff will be reassigned on a volunteer basis, not compelled, to work at affiliated hospitals dealing with a surge of Covid patients.

Those who accept get added pay if they live over 50 miles from the new workplace, Michigan Radio reports.

Registered nurses and respiratory therapists would be paid $100 an hour; pharmacists and nurses who administer anesthesia would be paid $130. ... The special program also includes reimbursement for travel and living expenses.

Race disparity task force

Lt. Garlin Gilchridst chairs a new Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, which suggest ways to assure equitable help during the Covid crisis. An undisclosed number of community leaders and health professionals will be appointed by the governor.

"This virus is holding up a mirror to our society and reminding us of deep inequities in our country," Gov. Whitmer says in a statement. “From basic lack of access to health care, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest. This task force will help us start addressing these disparities right now as we work to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in Michigan."

African Americans comprise 33 percent of the 21,500 lung virus cases in Michigan and 40 percent of deaths, though only 14 percent of Michiganders are African Americans.

Late letters

The U.S. Postal Service confirms delivery delays throughout Metro Detroit as coronavirus leaves some carriers unable to work.

Lags are reported in Detroit, Farmington Hills, Jackson and cities in Oakland and Macomb counties, with mail coming every other day in some cases. At least three Detroit-area postal workers have been sickened, one of whom died.

Leave a Comment:

Photo Of The Day