COVID-19 surge continuing to wreak havoc across metro Detroit

Business and public sector seeing an uptick in new cases, face operational challenges
Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 18:28:06-05

(WXYZ) — In wake of Henry Ford announcing that nearly 700 of their employees have tested positive for COVID, Beaumont Health systems also revealed that 425 of their staff members have also become victims of the latest surge.

And the damage led by delta and the new variant omicron continues as more entities are being impacted.

This week, Detroit Public Schools Community District started the new year with mass testing of their staff members, and now superintended Dr. Nikolai Vitti has confirmed that the preliminary data does not look good.

"I would say anywhere between 10 to 20% of employees have tested positive for COVID. That’s a combination of employees that tested voluntarily that tested last week and the beginning of the test results on Monday," said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD.

That’s a whopping 600 employees that have tested positive and Dr. Vitti says by mass testing the district was able to avoid spreading the infection further and disrupting school operations.

"You know at a 40% infection rate at the city level it's inevitable that infection rate is impacting employees and students and they would bring covid with them if we opened the school on Monday as scheduled," said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD.

Plus, with more testing data to be evaluated this week, Dr. Vitti believes the number is going to go up, Hence the district will follow virtual learning for the time being.

"The latest hopefully we would go back in-person learning is January 31st, which would be the start of the 2nd semester. I'm hoping that’s the worst-case scenario. Is late January, early February," Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD.

Law enforcement has also fallen victim to COIVD.

Detroit Police Department’s 1st assistant Chief, Todd Bettison says a total of 361 of the force’s members have so far tested positive for the virus.

"It hasn't impacted our operation as far as being able to deliver services to the citizens. So we are still able to function. But we have had an uptick in our numbers of positive members," Todd Bettison, 1st Assistant Chief, Detroit Police Department.

Back in April last year, DPD recorded 647 of its finest being infected with the virus.

That’s why Bettison says besides the regular face mask and social distancing, additional measures have also helped to keep new cases within the department at bay.

"We’ve reduced the amount of in-person meetings or large gatherings. One of the things that we did during the holiday season to ensure our members were safe that all Christmas parties and parties of that nature that precincts would have. We actually tested folks or officers before they participated," said Todd Bettison, 1st assistant Chief, Detroit Police Department.

Meanwhile, businesses have been impacted on multiple fronts as well. Right from staff shortages to stores unable to implement a mask policy.

Mia Brune works at Pitaya in Downtown Royal Oak and one of their biggest pandemic-related challenges is having customers wear a face mask.

"We find it difficult sometimes to enforce that because some people don’t want to follow along because it's not a state rule," said Mia Brune, Assistant Manager, Pitaya.

Mia says the management’s policy is to respect all customers’ wish and that’s why they also offer masks if someone forgets to bring them... but a state mask mandate would go a long way.

"It will get a little easier, and kind of cut that middleman, that conservation that we sometimes need to have when people enter without one," said Mia Brune, Assistant Manager, Pitaya.

Kate Micu from Bruegger’s Bagel says staffing shortage has impacted the overall day-to-day operations.

"We only have two people working, it can be a very demanding and stressful situation, but we are also experiencing an impact on business due to our dining rooms being closed. We don’t have much traffic coming in," said Kate Micu, General Manager, Bruegger’s Bagel.

Furthermore, John McEntee at Nutri Foods says their business has been impacted mainly due to supply chain issues.

"Companies are out of a lot of products, many companies are having problems getting the glass containers or even the lids for the containers," said John McEntee, Cashier, Nutri Foods.

Most businesses say overall, the Downtown Royal Oak area is not as busy as it used to be. In fact, some stores have even closed their doors for good.