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Detroit Expands COVID-19 Vaccinations to Restaurant and Grocery Store Workers, Among Others

February 3, 2021

Mayor Mike Duggan announced Tuesday that restaurant employees, grocery store workers, security guards, and janitorial employees are among those now eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The newly eligible workers also include employees in meatpacking and food and beverage service. There is no age requirement for the workers but they must live or work in the city.

“Back during testing, when we expanded from elderly to food service workers, it was a large number that came through,” he said. “If you’re handling our food supply in any way, you call us up, tell them what company you work for and we’ll get you an appointment.”

Duggan estimates the groups total several thousand people.

Duggan said appointments would be prioritized for food service workers first, because they are most at risk, followed by security guards and then janitorial staff.

On Monday, the city received an increased weekly allotment of 15,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The new group of eligible people will be directed to make appointments at the TCF Center parking garage.

“I think in the next two weeks, you will see us move to a combination of community centers, multiple locations and…we are working on those sites right now,” Duggan said.

As of Monday, the city has totaled 28,800 COVID cases, resulting in 1,792 deaths.

Michigan has administered more than 1 million of the 1.73 million doses of vaccines it has received. About 110,775 doses have been allocated to Detroit and 22,676 doses have been administered.

“About 10% of this state has received its first dose, only 3% in Detroit. We need to close that gap,” Duggan said.

A week ago, Duggan lowered the age of residents eligible for shots to 65 and opened vaccinations to clergy and mortuary workers.

Next up for eligibility are residents in the manufacturing industry, and Duggan said he expects that can happen in one to two weeks. Once that’s complete, Duggan hopes to lower the age to 60, he said.

Others already eligible before Wednesday include any “good neighbor” drivers, 65 or older, who bring older residents to the center, essential workers including K-12 teachers, child care workers, and federal and state employees who are working in the city.

Those eligible for vaccinations can schedule an appointment by calling the city’s scheduling center at (313) 230-0505 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Learning centers may reopen this month

Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, said the district is looking to reopen learning centers on Feb. 24 to allow any K-12 student to participate in online learning at the school so staff can be available to help them.

About half of parents are requesting in-person learning, Vitti told the Detroit City Council Tuesday. The city has a COVID-19 positivity rate of less than 5% and if the infection rate continues to decline to 3% the district plans to reopen in-person learning in March.

“Teachers have an option to work online or in-person. Employees who return to work on Feb. 24 will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test,” Vitti said.

The district is planning for changes in online learning due to higher incidents of chronic absenteeism. The district plans to change the grading and assignment processes and is rethinking the learning process, Vitti said.

“These changes are not uncommon for even suburban school districts throughout Michigan…,” Vitti told the council. “What we wanted to do at DPSCD is ensure that online learning matches the requirements and rigor of face-to-face learning. But as we work through this semester, it’s clear that too many students are falling farther and farther behind, and we want to increase motivation to continue to log in and learn. A lot of our students are struggling to complete assignments independently without enough support at the home.”

In addition, the district will be expanding summer school, after-school programming and offer classes over breaks. The district is also extending mental health support for families, students, and employees.

“We continue at DPSCD to offer options to parents. We don’t believe now or we don’t believe by fall that we should mandate in-person learning,” he said.

*Originally published in The Detroit News.