After the Plateau

[John E. Mogk] Thursday, April 16, 2020

The City of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan, the metropolitan area in which it is located, have become national hot spots for the spread of Covid-19. 

The City is under a strict lock down ordered by the Governor and Mayor. Only very essential businesses remain open and streets are largely vacant. The rapidly rebuilding central core of the City has fallen silent. 

Hundreds of fragile new businesses that were gaining a foothold in the economy are closed. How long they are able to withstand being shuttered without closing permanently is the major question for the future of Detroit. 

Most of Detroit’s corporate and civic leaders live in the suburbs where they are hunkered down or at their vacation homes. 

A large majority of the City’s African-American population that makes up 80% of Detroit’s residents are low income or impoverished and are struggling to defend themselves. Many suffer from health disparities and, if they have jobs, are on the front lines of the pandemic, as City workers, health care staff and grocery clerks, where exposure to the virus is greatest. Personal protective equipment is scarce. 

The unemployment rate is approaching that of the Great Depression. 

The City is planning for a $400 million shortfall in revenue and the major hospital systems are experiencing an enormous revenue decline from having to postpone elective surgeries. One system has 8,000 surgeries on hold. As a result, a large number of the medical staff not caring for Covid-19 patients have been furloughed. Everyone is hoping that the peak of infections will be reached soon. 

But after the plateau, the decline will be slow and significant danger of infection remain. 

Detroit has rebounded from difficult times in the past. This will be its greatest test.

John E. Mogk | Detroit | April 16, 2020

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