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Transcript: Mayor Mike Duggan on "Face the Nation," November 29, 2020

Detroit mayor says U.S. "not yet geared up" for mass vaccinations
Detroit mayor says U.S. "not yet geared up" f... 05:19

The following is a transcript of an interview with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan that aired Sunday, November 29, 2020, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joining us now is Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor.

MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN: Thanks for having me on, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What's driving the infections and what do you expect to see over the next few weeks?

MAYOR DUGGAN: Well, the numbers you're showing are the area. The city of Detroit is the illustration of what Dr. Birx just said. She's been to my office and we spent time at this. But Detroit actually has the lowest infection rate in the state of Michigan where half of that of the surrounding suburbs, and it's because behavior changed. In March and April, Michigan was hammered along with New York. And we had within a few weeks a thousand people hospitalized and 50 of our neighbors dying every day. Today, we've got about 200 hospitalized and we're losing one or two people a day to COVID. It is still too high. But the commitment to the testing, the commitment to the masks has shown that you can dramatically drop the infection rate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say behavior changed, you have a mask mandate. What's changed?

MAYOR DUGGAN: So, well, in March and April, we didn't know, certainly the people of Detroit took to heart the data that showed if an African American gets COVID, you've got a two to three times more likely chance to die than a Caucasian. And so in Detroit, assembly lines are in our DNA. We set up the biggest and most efficient drive thru testing site in the Midwest at the fairgrounds. We were testing 1,000 to 1,200 people a day and all summer and into the fall if you drove around the city, Detroiters were wearing masks. It was not necessarily true in the surrounding communities, and the governor has made this point repeatedly. But literally in Detroit, we have an infection rate less than half that of the surrounding suburbs. If you--


MAYOR DUGGAN: --make the commitment to the masks, we don't have to shut the economy of this country down.


MAYOR DUGGAN: But it means you have to do it. It isn't that hard.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were a hospital CEO before you became mayor. There are several health systems in the state of Michigan where reportedly they're telling hospital workers to come to work even if they've had close contact with a loved one who has COVID-19. How bad are the staffing shortages at your local hospitals?

MAYOR DUGGAN: Again, in the city of Detroit, we're in good shape, as I indicated in April --

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have everything you need?

MAYOR DUGGAN: --we had a thousand people hospitalized. Today, we have about 200. In the city. Now, you go outside of the suburbs, it's a different situation. And so now we're very much focused on the vaccinations. And I was on a call with a number of mayors with President-elect Biden, who made the point there's a big difference between vaccines and vaccinations. And we're looking now at the reality that when we were testing 1,200 people a day, that was a major undertaking. To get the vaccinations out we're going to have to vaccinate 5,000 a day just in Detroit. And this country is not yet geared up. And- and so to me, people saying vaccines are coming,


MAYOR DUGGAN: --vaccines are coming, we haven't begun as a country to address what it's going to take to actually--


MAYOR DUGGAN:--inject people with the vaccine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, it's a fair point. And it's ultimately going to be up to the state governors to execute on that. So what do you know about the state of Michigan and what's going to happen in your city?

MAYOR DUGGAN: Well, Governor Whitmer has been terrific from the beginning, but the direction we're getting from Washington is changing literally by the day. But we know in Detroit we're going to take our convention center, we're going to take the parking structures around our football and baseball stadiums, because when we were doing the huge testing in the summer, you had good weather. You can't do wholesale vaccinations in January, February and March out in snowstorms. And so we're probably going to take all of the major parking structures. And as soon as the vaccines are available, January or February, we're going to gear up and we intend to vaccinate 5,000 a day. We know the pharmacies are going to be helpful. The doctors and hospitals will be helpful. But the magnitude of what we're talking about this country has never experienced. And basically right now we're day and night--


MAYOR DUGGAN: --getting ready for wholesale vaccinations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You talked about how disproportionately hard African-Americans in particular have been by this virus. In your city, in your opinion, who do you think should be prioritized? Should you prioritize people based on their demographics? Should you prioritize them based on their occupation?

MAYOR DUGGAN: Well, I think we're going- certainly occupation is going to go first, and what the feds are talking about now is hospital workers going first, then EMTs, police officers, firefighters and the like. And then I think people over the age of 65. The death rate in people over 65 is so much higher than those who are younger. That's the way they're talking about it. I will be really glad when Joe Biden takes control of this and we get clear direction, but we will follow whatever protocols are there.


MAYOR DUGGAN: You think about the city of Detroit with 700,000 people.


MAYOR DUGGAN: If you were able to vaccinate 5,000 a day, you're still talking three or four months.


MAYOR DUGGAN: And that's the same challenge everybody in the country's got.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And we will be covering it. Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. FACE THE NATION will be back in a minute. Stay with us.

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