By Brian Stone
DEARBORN, Mich. – Dearborn’s elected officials and community leaders are sounding the alarm as Dearborn’s COVID rates skyrocket past other nearby communities.
While Dearborn’s numbers seem small – with the 7-day rolling average being 21 cases per day – the number of new infections per million residents ends up being massive compared to nearby communities.
Today, during her press conference on the pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer singled out Macomb County as a bad example for having 80 new cases per million residents. Dearborn, by contrast, has a 7-day rolling average of 223 cases per million residents per day.
The reason the per-million number of cases is higher than the actual number of cases per day is because Dearborn has 94,000 residents.
Several elected officials and community leaders expressed concern that Dearborn residents weren’t doing enough.
According to Michael McElrath, the spokesperson for the Wayne County Department of Health, Human & Veteran services, “The COVID-19 numbers have increased across the state and is attributed to community spread. Dearborn has a reported a larger concentration of that community spread in recent out-county case counts.”
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said that there had been a spike in cases with young people, and in particular in the 48126 area code, which is predominantly Arab American.
Public health data, however, does not specify whether a person who is infected is Arab, because all Arabs are being automatically classified as “white.” This means that Dearborn residents of Middle Eastern or European ethnicity are indistinguishable in the data, papering over differences in public health incidences and outcomes.
Haddad encouraged residents to call 911 in any instance where someone was not following social distancing rules or violating the governor’s executive orders, which limit gatherings to no more than 10 persons indoors and 100 persons outdoors.
Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun expressed frustration towards those who weren’t taking the virus seriously in a Facebook post.
Baydoun said, “to all those who are not taking this deadly virus very seriously, please abide by the Executive Orders of our Governor. Plz (sic) practice physical distancing and follow all the CDC guidelines.”
Dearborn City Councilwoman Leslie Herrick went to social media and put the city on notice, “#MaskUpDearborn – Alarmingly there is an upward spike in COVID victim cases in Dearborn. Please protect yourself and others. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash hands. Avoid large gatherings and remind your family and friends to do the same.”
Dearborn City Councilwoman Erin Byrnes also chimed in, saying that the city is planning to do more to encourage residents to follow protocols.
“Here’s what City Council is doing: 1. Meeting with the administration and Police Chief to discuss enforcement of the EO. 2. Distributing PPE in senior housing buildings this month using United Way grant funds. 3. Working with the Department of Public Information to launch a campaign across social platforms. 4. Filming a PSA to be shared on CDTV and social media,” said Byrnes. “Please reach out with questions and suggestions as we work together to keep our community safe and healthy!”
Many everyday residents took to social media to express their feelings as well.
Fay Saad, a Dearborn resident, said, “More needs to be done by citizens and elected officials of the city before Dearborn becomes an epicenter.”
Sara Smith said “I’m literally embarrassed. Come on Dearborn!”
However, not all residents felt the numbers deserved the attention it is getting.
“Call 911??!!!! This is getting way out of hand for a virus with a 99.5% survival rate! WAKE UP PEOPLE,” said Dearborn resident Hasan Abbas.
Rabih Hammoud, an administrator for the “One Dearborn” Facebook group with 13,000 members, said, “Dear elected officials, stop preaching on social media and start enforcing the Excutive (sic) Orders!”
McElrath said that Dearborn residents must do more to stop the spread of the virus, “Dearborn residents must follow the public health orders, refuse to participate in large gatherings and other activities that violate the Governor’s Executive Orders, practice social distancing, wear masks and get tested when especially when experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms. “