covid-19 testing | Michigan Radio
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covid-19 testing

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Today on Stateside, new data finds that colleges and universities are now Michigan's biggest COVID-19 hot spots. We talk to an epidemiologist about the challenges of containing campus outbreaks. Meanwhile, to make in-person learning safer, one Detroit school is moving all of its classrooms outside. Plus, one of the Detroit activists leading protests against police brutality talks about how the game changed this summer.

Eastern Michigan University
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Eastern Michigan University students will need to take a COVID-19 test before going back to school.

The university is mandating that students who will be living on campus take an at-home saliva test for the coronavirus before returning to school.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

In late May, the Kalamazoo County Health Department joined what looked to be a promising COVID-19 testing effort. 

Working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the state police, three-person teams from the Michigan National Guard fanned across the state, testing staff and residents in long-term care facilities, inmates in county jails, and thousands of individuals at temporary drive-through sites. 

 

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Dr. James Richard has some tough calls to make. As lab director for the Sparrow health system, his team has been “burning and churning” through more than 85,000 COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began.

 

The lab is a lynchpin for the region, serving as the central test processing hub for multiple hospitals, clinics, and community testing sites, all sending their samples to Sparrow and depending on their speedy results to track and contain the virus. 

 

THE U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

The number of people getting tested for COVID-19 in Michigan is on the rise. But in order to maintain quick turnaround times for results — a prerequisite for an effective public health response — some of the labs that process those tests are turning away new clients.

Last week, Michigan was completing more than 24,000 COVID-19 tests a day, based on a rolling 7-day average. At the start of July, average daily testing was less than 17,000.

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

Researchers at Beaumont Health have developed a new test that can detect COVID-19 in urine, saliva, and blood. Test results take 30-45 minutes, and don’t require expensive lab equipment to be processed.

Laura Lamb is one of the researchers who worked on developing the test. She says the accuracy of the test was one of the most important considerations. Lamb says the test is very accurate.

 

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Starting Monday, 15 churches in Pontiac and Southfield will offer free COVID-19 tests on a rotating basis over the next two weeks.

It’s a joint effort with Oakland County health officials to reach two communities hit hardest by the pandemic: Black people and older adults. Officials say African Americans make up just 14% of Oakland County’s population, but represent 33% of the COVID-19 cases, and about 36% of the deaths there. Nearly 80% of COVID deaths in Oakland County were people over 70. (Statewide data shows similar disparities.) 

Photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit is celebrating Juneteenth with a week-long series of events starting on Monday.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19. It commemorates the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas learned they would be freed.

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order that allows pharmacists, nurses, and physician assistants to authorize COVID-19 tests.

It also says Michigan residents can not be charged out-of-pocket costs for the test.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As the pandemic weeks turn into pandemic months, many questions remain about how we know what we know about COVID-19. One of the major limiting factors in testing for the virus is the availability of supplies for test kits.

A red bridge flooded in Midland
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Today on Stateside, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announces loosened restrictions on some Michigan businesses and small gatherings just in time for the holiday weekend. Plus, we'll hear about the environmental threats posed by massive flooding in Midland County this week. 

New Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
Dave Coulter for State Representative

As Michigan moves more toward re-opening its economy, Oakland County says it will now test anyone 18 or older for COVID-19.

Oakland County has drive-thru testing at three places in Pontiac, Southfield, and Novi. Starting now, any adult who wants to get tested there can do so.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Corrections is nearing its goal of testing all prisoners in state facilities. By the end of next week it should be finished. The National Guard has been assisting the prison system with testing prisoners.

At the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian there are 1,965 prisoners. A total of 716 have tested positive.

Courtesy photo / City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he’s “entirely confident” in a rapid-response COVID-19 test the city has used heavily, despite some doubts raised about its accuracy.

Several small studies found the Abbott Labs 15-minute tests produce a significant number of false negative results. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert about the tests, saying it’s still evaluating whether the tests produce too many false negatives.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is ramping up COVID-19 testing, with a focus on testing ‘at-risk’ seniors. Since May 1, 84% of Detroiters who've died from the disease have been over the age of 60.

Because of that, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city wants more senior citizens tested for the coronavirus.

MICHIGAN.GOV

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that Michigan is making progress in fighting COVID-19. She noted a decline in the rate of positive cases.

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Some Michigan manufacturing businesses will re-open for production starting Monday. That opens up a whole new set of places where people could potentially become infected with COVID-19.

Some manufacturers have detailed plans for protecting workers. But they’re largely missing one key safeguard: testing.


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The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections now stands at just over 45,000 thousand cases according to the state of Michigan.

Lately, the daily number of new cases has been trending downward.

But in a briefing last week, the state’s top Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun noted an emerging concern.

“To date, the vast majority of cases have still been in Southeast Michigan,” Khaldun said. “However, while the rate of rise is slower in Southeast Michigan, we are seeing an increase in the rate of rise in other parts of the state, particularly in the Western part.”

Dr. Eugene Vovchuk with his wife and two daughters.
Courtesy of Eugene Vovchuk

In mid-March, Eugene Vovchuk was going about his work as an anesthesiologist at Detroit Medical Center’s Harper University Hospital. He had heard about COVID-19, of course, but he hadn’t treated any patients with the disease yet. And the 38-year-old doctor was not prepared for his own ordeal with the virus, which would land him in the hospital for nearly a month. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Starting Monday, Michigan National Guard medical personnel will visit the six prisons in the Upper Peninsula to help the Michigan Department of Corrections conduct mass testing of the inmates.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of inmates at one of Michigan’s prisons have tested positive for COVID-19. The number is expected to rise.

The Michigan Department of Corrections confirms more than 600 prisoners have tested positive at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater. In an email, spokesman Chris Gautz indicated not all results are in and the number will grow.

US capitol building
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Today on Stateside, a new test for COVID-19 gives results quickly, but those results aren't always accurate. Plus, it's Earth Day and we spoke with a congressman about how the COVID crisis could serve as an opportunity to rethink how we treat the earth.

Courtesy photo / City of Detroit

On Tuesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a partnership with CVS Health to roll out rapid COVID-19 testing in Dearborn. The Abbott ID NOW™ COVID-19 test offers super-fast results, under 15 minutes.

Detroit was one of the first cities to deploy the rapid test, particularly to screen first responders and health care workers in quarantine, so healthy people could return to work. Mayor Mike Duggan suggested on Monday a deal for more machines was coming. But NPR reports some health care systems have stopped using it because of questions about its reliability.

Grappling with a surge in critically ill patients, the lives of healthcare professionals in Michigan look very different than they did a few weeks ago. Detroit continues to be one of the nation's hotspots for COVID-19 cases and deaths, and Michigan has the third highest number of infections among all states.

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state is ramping up contact tracing for positive cases of COVID-19. That involves monitoring and testing people who have been in contact with a positive case.