Updated 4:20 p.m. December 7, 2020 to reflect testing location changes in Wayne County. Updated 12:21 p.m. November 24, 2020 to include rapid testing available at CVS.
As coronavirus cases in Michigan increase, more and more people are getting tested for the virus because they’ve been exposed, they have symptoms, or even to make sure that they won’t be bringing COVID-19 with them if they choose to visit family on Thanksgiving.
WDET is here to answer all the big questions surrounding COVID-19 testing in metro Detroit, including where you can get tested.
Listen: Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, the Chief Health Strategist for Wayne County, discusses COVID-19 testing and being diligent during the holidays.
I’m worried I could have been exposed to coronavirus. Should I get tested right away?
Short answer: Wait 3-6 days after exposure
“Usually it is best to do the test between three to five or three to six days [after exposure],” says Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, the Chief Health Strategist for Wayne County. “If you do it too early you might not have enough of the virus to detect it.”
Whether you want to get tested after finding out you were around someone with COVID-19 or after flying and being on a crowded plane, getting tested immediately might not be the smartest move. Your test results will be more accurate if you quarantine for 3-6 days and then get tested.
What is the most accurate COVID-19 test?
Short answer: A polymerase chain reaction or PCR test
Dr. Hammami says the most accurate test, and the one backed by the CDC, is a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test. “The PCR test looks at the nucleic acid of the virus itself,” says Dr. Hammami. In other words, it is used to detect the genetic material of the coronavirus. PCR tests also happen to be the most common test available in metro Detroit.
What’s the deal with rapid tests?
Short answer: There are multiple types of rapid tests, but use with caution.
A lot of people are interested in rapid tests since you’re able to get same-day results, sometimes within the hour.
There is more than one kind of rapid test. One is an antigen test that detects the presence of a specific viral substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies in people with COVID-19. Antigen tests are said to be less sensitive than PCR tests because they can only detect Covid-19 in a sample with a higher viral load. For this reason, these tests are more likely to say someone has the virus when they don’t actually have it, or that they don’t have the virus when they do. This particular type of rapid test is available at a few CVS locations in metro Detroit.
Walgreens offers a different kind of rapid test at one Detroit location. Like the PCR test, the Rapid Point-Of-Care (POC) Test - NAAT (ID NOW) also detects the genetic material of the virus. It’s difficult to find literature on the accuracy of this specific test, but Canadian health officials say they are using them with caution as they study how sensitive all rapid tests are.
Do I need a prescription or a doctor’s order to get tested?
Short answer: No
At most places in metro Detroit, you no longer need a doctor’s order or prescription to get tested.
Can I get tested if I don’t have symptoms?
Short answer: Yes
Depending on the testing site, yes. You should be able to get tested without symptoms at HYPE Athletics Center testing locations in Dearborn Heights and Wayne; Garden City Hospital; Wayne County Healthy Communities locations in Hamtramck and Wayne; Oakland County testing locations in Southfield, Pontiac, and Farmington Hills; the Macomb County Health Department in Mount Clemens and Warren City Hall.
You can also get tested without symptoms at Rite Aid and Walgreens if they deem you eligible after you fill out an online pre-screening form. There are also several urgent care clinics that test people without symptoms.
Do I have to make an appointment to get tested?
Short answer: Depends on where you go
You have to get an appointment at most places in metro Detroit, including CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens. However, you do not need an appointment at places like the HYPE Athletics Center testing locations in Dearborn Heights and Wayne, Garden City Hospital, the Macomb County Health Department in Mt. Clemens, and certain urgent care centers. That said, if you go somewhere without an appointment, you may need to wait quite a while to be tested depending on the demand at the particular date and time you go in.
Do I need insurance to get tested?
Short answer: No
No. Most places offer free testing without insurance.
How much will it cost to get tested?
Short answer: Call your insurance to confirm, usually free without insurance
If you have insurance there are places you can go to get tested for free like CVS, the Wayne County Healthy Community clinics in Hamtramck and Wayne; the Oakland County testing sites in Southfield, Pontiac and Farmington Hills; the Macomb County Health Department in Mount Clemens and several urgent care clinics.
There are many other places where you may pay nothing or you may be charged around $100 depending upon your coverage. You might want to call your insurance company before you get tested to make sure there won’t be any surprises. If you don’t have insurance you should be able to get tested for free.
How long does it take to get results?
Short answer: 2-3 days, but longer if the demand is higher
The majority of the tests available in the area are PCR tests. They typically take 2-3 business days, however, right now, due to high demand, people who are getting tested are reporting that they’re often waiting around five days. That means if you’re planning to go somewhere where you need to make an appointment and there isn’t an immediate opening, it could easily take 8 days or more for you to get tested and get your results back.
If you get a rapid test then you typically receive results on the same day you get tested, sometimes within the hour. Rapid testing locations are limited right now in metro Detroit. Rapid testing is available at one Walgreens location in Detroit; three CVS locations in Canton, Clawson and Northville; and certain urgent care clinics. Early studies suggest rapid tests may be less sensitive than PCR tests.
CVS offers free self-administered nasal swab (PCR) testing to patients 12 and up, with or without insurance. It also offers rapid antigen testing in Clawson, Canton and Northville. Only certain asymptomatic people can get tested at CVS. Patients must fill out a form online to determine if they are eligible. Appointments are available 7 days a week. Depending on the location, patients may be directed to stay in their cars and proceed to either the pharmacy drive-thru window or a parking space or tent located in the parking lot or, in very limited locations, to enter a CVS store. CVS says PCR test results typically take 3-4 days but we’re hearing reports of up to 5 days right now. The rapid test results are generally available within 30 minutes. Results are sent via email or text.
CVS offers testing at locations in Berkley, Bloomfield, Brownstown, Canton, Chesterfield, Chesterfield Township, Clawson, Clinton Township, Commerce Township, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Eastpointe, Flat Rock, Fraser, Farmington Hills, Garden City, Grosse Pointe, Harper Woods, Hazel Park, Highland Park, Holly Township, Independence, Livonia, Macomb Township, Madison Heights, Milford, New Baltimore, Northville, Novi, Oak Park, Plymouth, Richmond, Rochester Hills, Roseville, Royal Oak, Shelby, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights, South Lyon, Southfield, Southgate, Taylor, Trenton, Troy, Walled Lake, Warren, Waterford, Wayne, West Bloomfield, Westland, White Lake, and Wyandotte. Find more information here.
Rite Aid offers nasopharyngeal swab and self-collected nasal swab testing for insured and uninsured people 18 and older whether or not they are experiencing symptoms. They do not currently offer rapid testing in metro Detroit. Health insurance is charged if applicable, otherwise the test is free. Patients interested in getting a test must first use a Google account to fill out a pre-screening form online. If patients qualify, they’ll be provided with an appointment date and time and store address. Hours of testing are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Rite Aid says test results take 1-3 days but we’ve heard general reports of delays in metro Detroit right now.
Walgreens is offering drive-thru testing to patients age 3 and up. Walgreens offers two kinds of tests in metro Detroit, both of which detect the genetic material of the virus. The most widely available test is a PCR test. Walgreens says results for this test are given in up to 3 days, though we’ve heard general reports of delays for COVID-19 test results in metro Detroit right now. The other test, currently only offered at one location in Detroit, is a Rapid Point-of-Care nucleic acid amplification test, which produces results within 24 hours.
Patients must first fill out an online health assessment to determine if they are eligible to be tested. If they are, they can select an appointment from available slots within the next few days. Tests are free for patients who meet CDC criteria for the test, otherwise the tests offered in metro Detroit cost $129 though they may be covered by insurance.
PCR tests are available at locations in Clinton Township, Farmington, Garden City, Oak Park, Sterling Heights, Taylor, Warren, Wayne. The rapid test is available in Detroit. Find more information here.
Local Government Testing Sites
City of Detroit
The City of Detroit offers nasal swab testing to residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties at the Joseph Walker Williams Community Center in Detroit. Patients must make an appointment over the phone by calling (313) 230-0505. Testing is available Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. If a patient has symptoms they are asked to wait in their car to be tested. Patients without symptoms may be expected to put on a mask and go inside the facility to be tested. Tests are free without insurance. With insurance, patients will be billed $81 (though that cost may be covered by their insurance). Results typically take 1-3 days but may take longer right now due to high demand. Residents of Detroit who don’t have transportation can book a ride to the testing community center for $2. This site, located at 8431 Rosa Parks Blvd, Detroit, MI 48206, replaces the City’s former State Fair testing location which is no longer in operation. Find more information here.
HYPE Athletics Center
Free, drive-thru or walk-in testing is available at two HYPE Athletics locations, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The testing is open for anyone age 5 and up. No pre-registration or insurance is required. The tests are administered using nasal swabs and are diagnostic tests but not rapid. Results typically take 48 hours but may take longer right now due to high demand. Testing is available at 23302 W. Warren Avenue, Dearborn Heights, MI 48127 and 4635 Howe Road, Wayne, MI 48184. Find more information here.
Garden City Hospital
Nasal swab testing is available to Wayne County residents and employees of any age at Garden City hospital, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Testing is available whether or not patients have symptoms. No appointment or prescription is necessary. Patients are asked to bring their ID and insurance information if they are covered. According to the county, insured patients should not have any out-of-pocket costs, but they should check with their health plan prior to testing. Testing is free to patients without insurance. Results will come through an online patient portal typically within 3 business days, though that’s not guaranteed. Garden City Hospital testing is located at 6255 Inkster Road, Garden City, MI 48135. Find more information here.
Wayne County Healthy Communities
Wayne County Healthy Communities clinics are offering free PCR testing by appointment in Hamtramck and Wayne. In Hamtramck, tests are available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. In Wayne, tests are available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Tests are available to people age 5 and up, whether or not they have symptoms. Patients park and are approached in their vehicle to do the test. Results take 3-5 days. Appointments can be made by calling (313) 871-1926. Find more information here.
Free Weekend Drive-Thru Testing
Wayne County Public Health teams are hosting drive-thru Covid-19 testing events at least two weekends of each month through the remainder of the year. These testing sites are open to people age 5 and up. No pre-registration, insurance or doctor’s order is needed. Find upcoming locations here.
Oakland County offers nasal or mouth swab testing at four locations by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday. They will test children age 4-17 if they have coronavirus symptoms and attend school in Oakland County or are residents. Testing is also available to residents age 18, with or without symptoms, at no cost. Appointments can be made by calling 1-800-848-5533, Monday-Friday. Results typically take 3-5 days but the county website says there are currently week-long delays. Results are given over the phone.
Mondays testing is available in Holly at the old fire station at 313 S Broad Street. Tuesdays testing is available in Rochester at the fire station at 277 E. Second Street. Wednesdays testing is available in Southfield at the city hall employee parking deck, 26000 Evergreen Road. Thursdays testing is available in Pontiac at the fire station, 348 South Blvd. Find more information here.
Macomb County Health Department
The Macomb County Health Department offers free PCR tests Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment or prescription necessary and patients do not need to have symptoms. People should bring an ID with them and remain in their vehicle. Testing takes place at 380 N. Rose Street, Mount Clemens MI 48043. Questions can be answered at (586) 463-3750. Find more information here.
Warren City Hall
Warren City Hall is offering nasal swab testing to seniors and other interested Warren residents on various Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. through December 2020. Participants must RSVP online or by calling Mayor Fouts’ Office at (586) 574-4520. To reserve an appointment online, people choose an available date and time slot and then submit their information. It is recommended that patients complete a pre-intake form via text message before their appointment, or people without cell phones can complete the form when they arrive. Results typically take a few days but may take longer right now due to high demand. Find more info here.
Most urgent care facilities and several other pop-up locations are also offering COVID-19 testing in metro Detroit. Find a location near you on the State of Michigan website here.