Detroit will monitor homeless in shelters, suspend evictions and foreclosures amid virus outbreak

Detroit is ramping up its protections for the city's most vulnerable populations as it enacts heightened restrictions on businesses to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Targeting the homeless population, the city will begin sending nurses and health officials to shelters around the city to assess possible cases of COVID-19. They will be taking temperatures of people there and if anyone registers symptoms similar to that of coronavirus, will be taken to another location where they will be separated from large crowds.

"All of our homeless should be seeing nurses or medical staff tonight and tomorrow," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Speaking at a Monday press conference, Duggan and Group Executive for Housing, Planning, and Development Head Arthur Jemison said their efforts will target the estimated 1,000 homeless in the shelters now.

Due to the extreme density of people living in shelters, Detroit officials saw the necessity to separate those who may be exhibiting flu-like symptoms so others don't get infected.

"We've had teams out there - we've been working for the last three or four days to identify additional shelter capacity that will allow us to create a situation where people if they were exhibiting a fever or other symptoms, would be able to be separated," Jemison said. "Teams are out there today and tomorrow trying to make sure that people if they do need particular or new attention, that we can get that to them.

"We think that's an important part of making sure people who come to shelter that shelter can be a real option for them," he added.

Once the city meets with those living in shelters, it will use a street outreach approach and send teams to other points of entry in the city and engage with the estimated 1,200 people living elsewhere.

Also on Monday, Chief Judge William McConico at the 36th District Court issued a temporary suspension of eviction proceedings at the court and City Treasurer Eric Sabree has put a halt on foreclosures for the year.

"This doesn't mean that your lease obligations stop and if you can afford to pay the rent, please keep paying it, but the last thing we needed was people being put out on the street in the middle of this," said Duggan.

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In response to Gov. Whitmer's halt on dine-in restaurants, Duggan said Monday the city would be making efforts to ease the economic fallout on businesses. For restaurants with parking meters in front where people can pull up and pick up food, the city would turn those areas into pickup zones and remove parking tickets.

The city has ramped up efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 following reports the disease has been communally spread in Michigan. A resident of Detroit also tested positive for coronavirus last week. Following that news, the city began enacting stronger recommendations for avoiding getting infected. 

Most efforts, however, have been superseded by Whitmer's declaration of emergency and executive actions.

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.