Vaccines arrive as COVID cases fall. Detroit officials: Don’t forget to mask up

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The City of Detroit is encouraging residents to continue to wear face masks. (BridgeDetroit photo by Valaurian Waller)

More than 12,000 Detroiters have been vaccinated against coronavirus, as of Monday.

Some Detroit residents became eligible for free vaccinations two weeks ago at the TCF Center. The city has received over 18,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, which are currently reserved for adults 68 and older and some frontline workers. Adults 65 and older are eligible for the vaccine if they drive an older adult to the TCF Center for vaccination. As more doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive, city officials say Detroit will continue to adhere to safety guidelines that limit business hours and social interaction. 

City officials continue to ask Detroiters to follow coronavirus safety protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health experts.

“The Detroit Health Department encourages all Detroiters to continue following COVID safety guidelines, including washing your hands, wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds and practicing social distancing. As the city reopens, per guidelines established by the state, the Detroit Health Department will continue to monitor for adherence to the new executive order by partnering with local businesses,” Margaret Carroll, communications manager for the Detroit Health Department, said in an email to BridgeDetroit.

Detroit’s coronavirus rates have decreased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. The city has administered over 70,000 tests with about 10 percent positivity.

The city is also allowing some frontline workers access to vaccinations. This includes city employees who work on site, police officers, day care workers and teachers. The city late last week extended vaccine eligibility to clergy and funeral home workers. The state has determined prioritization groups for vaccine eligibility and the city of Detroit implements a rollout following those guidelines, according to Carroll. 

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The city and state have not yet released a demographic breakdown of who has received the vaccine.

President Joe Biden’s administration announced Tuesday that it would send more vaccines to states after reports of shortages. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted earlier this month that the vaccine rollout had been ‘botched’ by the Trump administration. The state has administered almost 1.5 million doses.

Carroll told BridgeDetroit that the vaccine is the “best tool we have to help stop this pandemic and return to normal life.” However, Carroll said that until the vaccine is widely available Detroiters will be asked to continue following coronavirus safety protocols.

The city has spent over $17 million in coronavirus testing support and services and recently launched a coronavirus vaccine dashboard. The new digital tool allows anyone to view the number of doses received by the city and how many have been administered by various categories.

Detroit is following state gathering guidelines, which will allow in-house dining for restaurants beginning Feb. 1. However, time restrictions remain, and bars and restaurants will be required to close by 10 p.m.

The governor’s orders will allow concessions at movie theaters, stadiums, and casinos to reopen and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. Waterparks, night clubs, workplaces that can allow work from home, and contact sports outside of professional sports are still unauthorized.

Late last week the state’s health director Robert Gordon, unexpectedly resigned from his position. The Department of Health and Human Services had followed Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun’s coronavirus safety precautions and implemented their strategy since the governor was stripped of her mask mandate power. Elizabeth Hertel was hired as Gordon’s replacement. The moves come as coronavirus cases, test positivity rates and hospitalizations continue to decline. 

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