Detroit looks to test homeless to stem coronavirus tide

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is directing resources to protect the city's most vulnerable in the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've been very concerned that there are not enough protections in place to keep COVID-19 from spreading among the homeless population," Duggan said Monday.

Nurses and medical staff are going to all 31 shelters and warming centers in Detroit, checking on the roughly 1,200 homeless people there and separating those that show symptoms of COVID-19 until they can be tested.

"If they need to be separated or isolated we have places they can go to, where they can get medical attention as necessary," said Arthur Jemison, city of Detroit.

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"They have compromised immune systems to start off with. they're already sick, they already haven't seen a doctor in years," said Jeff Hocking.

Hocking and Dan Hearsch say that's just one reason on why the homeless are more susceptible to contracting the virus. They hand out resources and care packages to the homeless through their volunteer group - The Congregation of Everyone and say the well-being of those down and out is intertwined with those who are not.

"Just because you can't see it or they are not around or you don't interact with them personally, everything is intertwined," Hocking said. "If we can't help the least vulnerable of us, unfortunately we're not going to be able to help ourselves."

Mayor Mike Duggan says the federal government's missteps hampered our ability to do so. He lamented the lack of testing resources here in Michigan - only about 125 people a day are being tested for COVID-19 -- Duggan says that does not provide a clear picture of how widespread the virus is.

"We should be testing 2,000 or 3,000, we should have a lot more tools to fight this," Duggan said. "A big part why the governor has to close down restaurants and send people home is we are largely flying blind because we don't know which of our fellow citizens have the disease."