Michigan urges those with mild symptoms to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)

State expands testing criteria

FILE - In this April 16, 2020, file photo, vials containing nasal swabs collected at a COVID-19 drive-through testing site are dropped into a plastic bag to be sent off for processing after being collected in St. Louis. An Associated Press review of more than 20 states found that before the coronavirus outbreak many had at least a modest supply of N95 masks, gowns, gloves and other medical equipment. But those supplies often were well past their expiration dates, left over from the H1N1 influenza outbreak a decade ago. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File) (Jeff Roberson, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – Michigan health officials say they’re working to reach a goal of 15,000 coronavirus (COVID-19) tests per day, urging residents to get tested.

Michigan, which as of April 21 ranked 24th in the U.S. for testing, has expanded the criteria for testing, opening up tests for people with mild symptoms.

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

“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.”

The expanded testing criteria has been in use since Monday as the state continues to work to increase testing supplies and access.

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

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.

“If you meet the testing criteria, and you’re told you 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 site 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.”

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.

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.

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 will contact you with the test results and to explain next steps.

“We are hearing rumors the test isn’t safe or actually contains coronavirus,” said Khaldun. “That is untrue, and the swabs are completely safe and do not contain the virus.”

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.

Call a health care provider with questions about symptoms or testing. To find a testing site, visit Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest. For information about COVID-19 and available resources, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.