President Donald Trump was close to a bar graph of COVID-19 cases in Metro Detroit on Sunday evening when his government highlighted efforts to combat the spread of the virus in Michigan.

Michigan now has the third most confirmed coronavirus cases in all states. During a press conference in the White House, officials repeatedly discussed their efforts in the state.

President Donald Trump and Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator at the White House, stands in front of a table of COVID-19 cases in the Detroit region during a briefing on April 5, 2020. (Photo: screenshot)

“Michigan and Illinois are at the forefront of our thinking,” said Vice President Mike Pence at one point. “And on the President’s orders, we will ensure that the people of Illinois and Michigan have the resources, equipment, and support they need.”

Pence had extensive talks with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Sunday. Duggan is “grateful” for the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration for immediate test kits that are currently used in the city.

Duggan announced on Monday that it had an agreement with Abbott Laboratories in Illinois to ship five test machines and 5,000 test kits to Detroit. The machines deliver results within 15 minutes.

“Mayor Duggan told me he could use the 15-minute test this weekend to test 150 first-aiders who were removed from the market because they were exposed to the corona virus,” said Pence. “They all got the 15 minute test. They’re all back on duty and the mayor couldn’t have been more grateful.”

Duggan “had a positive and far-reaching conversation” with Pence on Sunday afternoon, said John Roach, spokesman for the mayor’s office.

Roach said that almost 150 first-aiders tested negative and returned to work in the first two days after using the 15-minute tests, while 30 others tested positive. The 30 that tested positive “received adequate medical care,” said Roach.

Duggan said he was grateful to Abbott Labs CEO Robert Ford, that he had enabled Detroit to be the first city to put the 15-minute tests into operation and that the FDA had approved the Abbott tests, Roach said.

Pence also praised Henry Ford Health System’s large-scale study on hydroxychloroquine to find out if the drug, which is commonly used to treat lupus, can prevent COVID-19.

Pence, at the President’s urging, said he assured Whitmer that the government was “more than willing” to make hydroxychloroquine widely available through pharmacies and medical practices in the Detroit area.

The state of Michigan previously requested distributions of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine from the Strategic National Stockpile for use in certain patients with COVID-19.

During the briefing Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, statistics on confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in Wayne and Oakland counties, the two counties with the most cases in Michigan.

And counter-administrator John Polowczyk, who heads the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s supply chain task force, said he spoke to the management of Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Chief Operating Officer, Hakim Berry, and a health officer for Oakland County over the weekend “Understand their needs.”

Veterinarian Secretary Robert Wilkie said he had instructed veterinary hospitals across the country to prepare to provide 1,500 intensive care units and acute care beds for the COVID-19 response. Wilkie specifically mentioned opening beds in Detroit and Ann Arbor, but didn’t give a number. He also said that a pharmaceutical trailer would be provided at the Detroit TCF Center. The center is used as an alternative care facility to flood patients from hospitals.

Detroit News Staff authors Christine Ferretti and Beth LeBlanc contributed to this.

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