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Increase of testing must continue to slow spread of COVID-19 in state

Photo: Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) expanded testing criteria, with the expanded testing criteria having been in use since April 25.

The Centers for Disease Control has indicated 25%–and maybe more–of those exposed to the novel coronavirus show no symptoms. It is important to test so those who have the virus with mild or no symptoms can isolate themselves and avoid spreading the virus to those who are more at risk for complications.

Any Michigander displaying mild symptoms or any essential worker still reporting to work in person, whether symptomatic or not, is now eligible to get a test with an order from a health care provider.

Common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Those who experience symptoms should call their health care provider to discuss getting an order for testing. If a health care provider is unavailable, please contact the nearby testing site to discuss getting an order for testing. In some cases, an order may not be necessary.

MDHHS would like to see 15,000 tests completed daily in Michigan per recommendations by the Harvard Global Health Institute, which published a recommendation of 152 tests per day per 100,000 population to begin to re-open the United States. That level of testing is necessary to identify the majority of people who are infected and isolate them from people who are healthy, according to the Harvard researchers

“Testing remains critical to our efforts to slow the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Increased testing helps us understand where this disease is so we can identify people at highest risk and make sure we are quickly implementing best practices for preventing further cases and deaths.”

Those who test positive will be asked to isolate themselves for at least seven days. The patient can then leave their home after being symptom-free for three days. Those who develop severe symptoms and are having trouble breathing should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room

Testing is performed with a nasopharyngeal swab, which means inserting a long Q-tip into the cavity between the nose and mouth for 15 seconds and rotating the swab several times. The swab is repeated on the other side to make sure there is enough material collected. The swab is then inserted into a container and sent to a lab for testing. The health care provider contacts individuals with the test results and to explain next steps.

There are rumors the test is not safe or actually contains the coronavirus.

“That is untrue, and the swabs are completely safe and do not contain the virus,” said Khaldun.

Khaldun said if one meets the testing criteria, and is told they don’t need a test or one isn’t available, it may mean that test site does not have the supplies needed to test.

“We encourage you to visit the online test locator and call the nearest site regarding next steps,” Khaldun said. “You are your best advocate, and we know we need to increase testing as a strategy to further slow the spread of COVID-19.”

It is important to contact the testing site before visiting to check on hours and expectations. Some sites can do testing while the patient remains in their car, others may require an appointment.

The test is free for most people. Many insurance providers are waiving copays, and those with Medicaid or the Healthy Michigan Plan also have no cost.

Nearby sites can be found by visiting Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest and entering the ZIP code.

The state continues to work to increase testing supplies and access.


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