Thirteen new or expanded COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites – including one outside the Atwood Stadium in Flint to be open for testing April 15– will provide greater access to residents across Michigan, and a new lab will speed up test results under a plan announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Expanded testing is available through a partnership involving the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan Primary Care Association, 11 health centers and NxGen MDX Laboratory.
The efforts will increase Michigan’s daily COVID-19 testing capacity by about 40 percent when fully operational. They include:
-Nine new drive-through testing locations and expansion of three existing centers where residents can be tested for COVID-19 without leaving their vehicles, plus additional testing at a location yet-to-be-determined in Detroit.
-Use of a new commercial laboratory in Grand Rapids that can run upwards of 3,000 tests per day, which would increase Michigan’s average number of results every day by about 40 percent.
People must meet Michigan’s coronavirus testing priority criteria to be tested at the sites. They should first contact the site’s patient screening telephone line or their health care provider if seeking testing. Michigan’s testing priority criteria include:
Symptomatic healthcare workers.
Patients in congregate facilities with symptoms, including those at:
Long-term care or elderly living facilities.
Jails or prisons.
Residential foster care facilities.
Other group living settings.
Patients age 65 and older with symptoms.
Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms.
First responders with symptoms.
Whitmer said more testing will save lives.
“The State of Michigan is working with our healthcare partners to step up COVID-19 testing. Better access to testing and quicker results are critical to our public health officials who are fighting coronavirus and to our residents who have symptoms of COVID-19 and need answers, treatment and peace of mind,” Whitmer said.
The new drive-thru capacity will include two large-scale sites in Detroit and Flint. The sites will aim to serve at least 750 and 250 people per day, respectively. Additional site details are in progress and will be announced soon.
The new Flint site is in partnership with Hurley Medical Center.
“I would like to thank Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Hurley Medical Center and all of our partners for stepping up so that we can fill this critical need in our community,” Mayor Sheldon Neely said. “We know our community has been especially hard hit, and testing is an important tool to combat this deadly virus.”
New drive-thru sites will also operate in Atlanta (between Gaylord and Alpena), Bad Axe, Battle Creek, Bay City, Benton Harbor, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Traverse City. The partnership will significantly expand drive-thru test sites currently operating in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Saginaw. Each site will aim to serve 100 or more individuals per day beginning April 13, with the exception of the Detroit and Flint sites which each begin operations on later dates. Individuals should call before coming to these drive-thru sites for pre-test evaluation and additional information.
“Increased testing is the only way we will know where COVID-19 is in Michigan, and will guide our public health response,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “Along with social distancing practices such as staying home and keeping 6 feet between yourself and others if you must go out, more testing will help Michigan slow the spread of COVID-19.”
MDHHS will partner with the Michigan Primary Care Association and NxGen Laboratory, a commercial laboratory in Grand Rapids, to operate these testing sites.
“We’re grateful to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and MDHHS for recognizing the pivotal role that community health centers can play in providing care for residents without a regular doctor, opening new drive-thru testing locations, and alleviating some of the burden on our hospital partners,” said Dennis Litos, interim chief executive officer of the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA). “MPCA is incredibly proud of the care community health centers have been providing during this crisis, and they will continue to serve on the frontlines of COVID-19 relief efforts.”
The Atwood Stadium is located at 701 University Ave. in the 48503 zip code. Those wishing to be tested will use the parking lot entrance off West 1st Street.
Stay tuned to the Flint Courier News’ website for details.