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Heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition

Michigan State Fairgrounds Opens for COVID-19 Testing Today

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Image credit: Eli Newman / WDET

The site, managed by local governments and health services, expects to ramp up to 400 tests a day. Testing is by appointment-only and require a doctor’s referral.

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The Michigan State Fairgrounds will open for drive-thru COVID-19 testing today through May 8. 

One hundred appointments have been made for today, but organizers expect to ramp up to 50 cars an hour, or 400 appointments a day, to get screened for the respiratory illness. They expect to test up to 14,400 patients over a six-week period.

Could we someday see the TCF Center or the Pistons’ practice facility or the Marygrove dorm turned into hospital beds?” - Mayor Mike Duggan

Patients will will require a doctor’s order and an appointment before showing up, but do not physically need to go to a doctor for the prescription. Appointments are available to any resident of the tri-county area, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. See an FAQ on the testing site.

Coronavirus testing begins today at the Michigan State Fairgrounds.Eli Newman / WDET
Eli Newman / WDET

Coronavirus testing begins today at the Michigan State Fairgrounds.

The effort is being managed by the “Coronavirus Community Care Network” which is a coalition of local governments and health services.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says Southeast Michigan is preparing for a “surge of cases.”

Could we someday see the TCF Center or the Pistons’ practice facility or the Marygrove dorm turned into hospital beds?” Said Duggan. “Those are all things that the governor is appropriately exploring, not just in Detroit, but around Michigan.”

Local health services and the Detroit Health Department are offering ride assistance for those without cars.

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Supply Shortages

Duggan says finding a place for “drive-thru” testing was never the issue. But limited resources were a problem.

We had to have a means of lab capacity that didn’t cut into the hospitals,” Duggan said. “And second, the supplies.”

All the health care systems have engaged incident command centers to think about this as a mass-casualty event.” - Wright Lassiter, Henry Ford Health System

That demand is being met, in part, with the help of JP Morgan Chase. The bank is contracting a lab in New Jersey to test hundreds of samples taken from the State Fairgrounds site.

It’s one aspect of a coordinated effort to respond to the coronavirus outbreak in Metro Detroit. 

All the health care systems have engaged incident command centers to think about this as a mass-casualty event,” said Wright Lassiter, President and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. ”So we are planning for surge capacity.”

Lassiter says Henry Ford and other health services are exploring alternative sites that could accommodate “hoteling” staff treating patients with COVID-19. The State Fairgrounds will be the first in a set of regional testing sites responding to the outbreak, according to county governments in Southeast Michigan.

Updated, 1:00, March 27, 2020: This post has been updated to include additional details on testing eligibility and capacity.


FAQ On Testing At the State Fair Grounds

The following information was provided by organizers at the site. 

How the CCCN Drive-thru testing site will work

  • The Michigan State Fair Grounds is at 8 Mile and Woodward Ave. The entrance will be off of W. State Fair. 
  • The site will operate from 7:00 am until 6:00 pm, Monday thru Saturday starting Friday, March 27.  It will operate until May 8. 

There are two ways a person can be scheduled for an appointment:

  • A physician schedules an appointment for a patient and calls in a prescription to the call center, or,
  • An individual must receive a written prescription from a physician, schedule an appointment with the call center, and bring their prescription to the testing location.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Call the CCCN call center at 313-230-0505 to schedule your drive-thru testing appointment. 

Appointments are scheduled up to one week in advance. The call center is open Monday through Sunday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm.

The appointment scheduling process for physicians includes:

  • Patients arrive at their doctor’s office presenting COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Doctor evaluates patient for COVID-19 and determines whether the patient should receive testing.
  • If the doctor determines that COVID-19 testing is needed, the doctor writes a prescription for the test.
  • While the patient is still present, the doctor’s office calls the CCCN call center with the prescription information and schedules an appointment for the patient at the drive thru.
  • The doctor’s office provides the patient with their drive-thru appointment date, time, and location and instructs them to bring their state issued or another form of valid ID.

The appointment scheduling process for an individual includes:

  • Patient contacts their doctor to request a prescription.  This does not have to be an in-person visit. 
  • If the doctor determines that COVID-19 testing is needed, the doctor writes a prescription for the test.
  • The patient calls the CCCN call center with the written prescription information and schedules an appointment at the drive thru.
  • The patient arrives at the drive-thru appointment with state issued or another form of valid ID and the written prescription.

Eli Newman, Reporter/Producer

Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.

eli.newman@wdet.org Follow @other_eli

This post is a part of Coronavirus in Michigan.

101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station, is committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information on coronavirus, and it's related illness COVID-19, in Michigan. 

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