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Michigan expands coronavirus (COVID-19) testing criteria as economy begins to reopen

Adult Medicine of Lake County is opening two new coronavirus testing sites.
Adult Medicine of Lake County is opening two new coronavirus testing sites. (Adult Medicine of Lake County)

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is expanding testing criteria for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Now, asymptomatic patients who are preparing for surgery can be tested if testing is deemed necessary by the treating health care professional. It also includes asymptomatic people who have known exposure to someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or works in a profession that puts them at high risk of exposure.

READ: Michigan Gov. Whitmer makes it easier for residents to get tested for COVID-19

The new testing criteria also emphasizes the need to expand testing options for people without symptoms who live in areas where there has been inequitable access to testing.

“As we reopen Michigan’s economy, expanded testing is critically important so that we can track any spread of COVID-19 in regions or local communities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.

MDHHS is encouraging anyone who meets the testing criteria to get tested. Anyone who wishes to be tested may call the Michigan coronavirus hotline at 1-888-535-6136 or visit Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest to find an appropriate testing location.

MDHHS COVID-19 test prioritization criteria is now as follows:

High Priority:

  • Hospitalized patients with symptoms
  • Any health care worker, first responder, or congregate care facility worker with symptoms
  • Residents in any congregate care facility, including prisons and shelters, with symptoms

Priority:

  • Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Muscle pain
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Sore throat
  • Asymptomatic patients in preparation for surgical procedures, as deemed necessary by the treating clinician
  • Asymptomatic people with known exposure to a person with COVID-19 or exposure to a person with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Asymptomatic people living or working in a congregate care facility or other high-risk setting (such as nursing home, jail, prison, homeless shelter, assisted living facility, etc.) that:
    • Had a confirmed case among residents or workers
    • Is located in a region of medium risk or higher
    • Is receiving patients from an area of medium risk or higher
  • Asymptomatic people who work in a profession that puts them at high risk of exposure, including:
    • Repeated close contact of prolonged duration with the public
    • Working in a high-risk profession where clusters of infections have been identified (such as migrant workers, food processing facilities, etc.)
    • Working in-person during a period of strict social distancing or, in areas with some sectors re-opening, having worked in-person during the period of strict social distancing
  • Persons identified by clinicians or public health officials who can be tested for public health monitoring research purposes
  • People without symptoms who live in communities where there has been inequitable access to testing and a need to increase the rate of people tested per day – such as areas with higher proportion of racial/ethnic minorities, rural communities

Permissible:

  • Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by local health departments or clinicians, for any reason
  • Asymptomatic people living or working in a congregate care facility or other high-risk setting (such as a nursing home, jail, prison, homeless shelter, assisted living facility) in any region
  • Asymptomatic people leaving their home for work

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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