Northern Michigan health officials say COVID-19 testing is still not readily available here.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan says the demand for testing far out weights the capacity in Northern Michigan.
“We are open at a level that the rest of the state is not and so we have more people interacting, more people traveling here, that increases our risk,” said Lisa Peacock, health officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.
She says each time a new testing option becomes available, it is quickly overwhelmed, causing long delays.
“Testing demand currently far outweighs capacity in Northern Michigan,” Peacock said. “Almost everywhere you can get testing you have to wait at least a couple days to get in and then wait at least a couple of days for results. And those wait times are getting longer and longer.”
It also impacts how quickly they can trace contacts and alert those who have been exposed, which is allowing spread of the virus to continue.
“That impacts our ability to investigate a case promptly when a case is already a week old,” said Dr. Josh Meyerson, medical director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.
“We have people leaving Petoskey and Traverse City and driving to Detroit to get a test because they can get the results more quickly,” Peacock said. “And that’s not okay, we should all be upset about that.”
And looking towards schools reopening in the coming weeks…
“When you start planning for school, I think being able to rapidly identity cases is going to be critical if we want to keep disease transmission low,” Dr. Meyerson said.
“Testing is going to be a critical strategy and tool to keep schools open contain outbreaks, to minimize disruption to instruction and keep us moving along,” Peacock said.