As COVID case numbers continue to rise, testing becomes an important tool – especially after Spring Break in northern Michigan.
Many Michiganders hit the road or took to the skies for Spring Break – but health officials have warned that traveling increases your risk of catching the coronavirus.
Dr. Michael Collins is the Grand Traverse County Health Department’s Medical Director. He says, “Any sign of symptoms that are consistent with COVID, it’s important to get tested… so that you know if it’s COVID and you need to isolate yourself for 10 days.”
Testing is important, but the Health Department says ideally, anyone who travels should isolate no matter what. Dr. Collins says, “Really it would be great if they would isolate themselves for a week and get tested before they go back to work or school or wherever they’re going back to.”
But health officials know not everyone is doing that. So testing becomes especially important. And TCAPS hosted a testing site trying to catch families coming back from Spring Break – before they think about coming back to school. Superintendent John VanWagoner says, “We thought this was the best time to do that. Fortunately the DHHS was able to work with their staff and their contractors to be able to make this happen.” He adds, “We’re going to do everything we can to have our kids be safe.”
At Traverse City Central High School, the Superintendent says they were expecting 100 vehicles throughout the day. But with more than 250 waiting when they first opened, it’s exceeding expectations. “I’m pretty amazed to pull up before it’s even started… two lines through the parking lot. All the way out Eastern Avenue.” With four stations, the hope is to move cars through the line quickly. “People can come get that rapid test, or even if they’re positive on the rapid test, have the ability to get that advanced test, on-site free of charge.”
“Pretty proud of our community that people are taking advantage of the opportunity, coming, getting tested. As they stayed here or maybe gone somewhere to be able to say, hey I want to do my part to make sure that if I am positive that I’m not infecting others,” VanWagoner says. “As people are willing to do this and not spread it, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.”
Families are also showing up to the County’s testing site. Cecilia Balog is in 8th grade. “Some of my friends have been on planes to other places. I’m not that worried about it. Especially since I’m young and most of my family members have gotten the vaccine. So I’m just more nervous about spreading it to them if anything.”
But Cecilia and her mother say testing is also mandatory. Judy Balog says, “She is coming for her test for sports since it’s required now. I think it’s a great opportunity. I think it’s important, and I like that we have the rapid test now so we get quick results.”
Cecilia adds, “I think it’s a good idea so you know when you’re going into the sport that there isn’t anyone that has the virus.” Judy isn’t too concerned about Spring Break, but admits the travels of others have crossed her mind. “We’ve been laying pretty low. We’ll still lay low. Spring Break doesn’t really worry me for our family. Just because we’ve been careful. That’s a little worrisome when she goes back to school and they’ve been traveling.”
Dr. Collins says, “It should be reassuring to the majority of people who get a negative test. But those who are find they are positive, they’ve done a real service to the rest of us, by not contributing to the outbreak and the number of cases that seem to be so much of a problem right now.”
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