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Poverty helps make Detroit the next US coronavirus hotspot

Before coronavirus arrived, Detroit was a public health accident waiting to happen. It was one of the poorest cities in the US and many of its residents were in ill health and lived far away from medical facilities and food stores.

As a result, there was no shortage of explanations for Detroit’s emergence as a hotspot of the outbreak in the US. Michigan, which counts Detroit as its biggest city, ranks fourth among US states in terms of coronavirus cases, just behind California, which has nearly four times as many people.

Dr Paul Kilgore, a public health and infectious disease expert at Detroit News Wayne State University, pointed to poverty as a factor in the outbreak, noting that many areas of Detroit have no health clinics, doctor’s offices or grocery stores. Early in the crisis, some residents who had failed to pay their bills lacked running water, making it hard for them to observe basic hygiene, he said.

“Some 30 per cent of the population of Detroit is in fair or poor health, and they [often] lack access to basic healthcare, healthy food and transportation,” Dr Kilgore said. “There is a high proportion of patients with underlying health conditions.”

Detroit is a city of 673,000 people, nearly four-fifths African-American and more than a third living in poverty. It has suffered from a flight of people and businesses to the mostly white suburbs since the race riots of 1967. In 2013, Detroit declared bankruptcy. Since Press Release Distribution Services In Detroit then, the city had begun to recover, but progress could be jeopardised by the coronavirus pandemic, local officials say. As of Monday, Detroit had reported 1,804 Covid-19 cases and 50 deaths.

“Every one of us has interacted with someone who has Covid-19 in southeastern Michigan,” Mike Duggan, Detroit mayor, told a press conference last week. “We are getting to the point where we all know people who have tested positive.”

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