MDHHS expands COVID-19 testing criteria to better protect residents

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently announced it is greatly expanding testing criteria for COVID-19 to provide access to additional residents who do not have symptoms but are at risk.

The new criteria includes asymptomatic patients who are preparing for surgery if testing is deemed necessary by the treating health professional. It also includes asymptomatic people who have known exposure to someone who has COVID-19 or symptoms, or who work in a profession that puts them at high risk of exposure due to close contact with the public, such as dental technicians, or to COVID-19 outbreaks in certain industries like at food processing facilities.

The new testing criteria also emphasizes the need to expand options for people without symptoms who live in communities where there has been inequitable access to testing, as well as the need to increase the rate of people tested per day in these areas. For example, this includes areas with higher proportions of racial/ethnic minorities or rural communities.

“As we reopen Michigan’s economy, expanded testing is critically important so that we can track any spread of COVID-19 in regions or local communities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.

Last week, the state has averaged about 14,000 diagnostic COVID-19 tests per day. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal of reaching 15,000 diagnostic tests per day in the near term and 30,000 per day in the weeks to come.

MDHHS is encouraging anyone who meets the testing criteria to get tested. Free testing is widely available, including at federally qualified health centers and major retail pharmacies.

Anyone who wishes to be tested may call the Michigan coronavirus hotline at 1 (888) 535-6136 or visit Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest to find an appropriate testing location, including a list of sites offering testing at no cost. Michiganders can locate testing sites by inputting their address or selecting state, county and ZIP code.

Individuals who experience symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, should contact their healthcare provider, 24/7 nurse hotline or telehealth program provided by their insurance carrier or employer to discuss whether to be evaluated for testing.

Each coronavirus test provider will determine if testing is appropriate based on symptoms and test availability in their area. Michiganders should call the COVID-19 testing site before they go to learn about testing criteria, availability and hours.

MDHHS COVID-19 test prioritization criteria is now as follows:

High Priority:

  • Hospitalized patients with symptoms.
  • Any health care worker, first responder, or congregate care facility worker with symptoms.
  • Residents in any congregate care facility, including prisons and shelters, with symptoms.

Priority:

  • Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including, shortness of breath, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, sore throat.
  • Asymptomatic patients in preparation for surgical procedures, as deemed necessary by the treating clinician.
  • Asymptomatic people with known exposure to a person with COVID-19 or exposure to a person with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Asymptomatic people living or working in a congregate care facility or other high-risk setting (such as nursing home, jail, prison, homeless shelter, assisted living facility, etc.) that: had a confirmed case among residents or worker, is located in a region of medium risk or higher, or is receiving patients from an area of medium risk or higher.
  • Asymptomatic people who work in a profession that puts them at high risk of exposure, including: repeated close contact of prolonged duration with the public, working in a high-risk profession where clusters of infections have been identified (such as migrant workers, food processing facilities, etc.), working in-person during a period of strict social distancing or, in areas with some sectors re-opening, having worked in-person during the period of strict social distancing.
  • Persons identified by clinicians or public health officials who can be tested for public health monitoring research purposes.
  • People without symptoms who live in communities where there has been inequitable access to testing and a need to increase the rate of people tested per day – such as areas with higher proportion of racial/ethnic minorities, rural communities.

Permissible:

  • Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by local health departments or clinicians, for any reason.
  • Asymptomatic people living or working in a congregate care facility or other high-risk setting (such as a nursing home, jail, prison, homeless shelter, assisted living facility) in any region.
  • Asymptomatic people leaving their home for work.

Education

Niles Community Schools’ remote platform allows students to go at own pace

Business

Dowagiac business donates backpacks, school supplies to students in need

Cassopolis

Miss Cassopolis Scholarship Program hosting school supply drive

Berrien County

Berrien County Health department gets blunt on marijuana education, safety

Cass County

Two Dowagiac men sentenced Friday in Cass County Court

Cass County

Cass County works to expand broadband access

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township passes 2.25 percent millage increase

Berrien County

Local talent development leader honored by Michigan Works! Association

Cassopolis

Cassopolis awards preliminary marijuana licenses

News

Niles police chief looks forward to continuing work with city, two departments

Cass County

North Pointe Center class partners with church for cemetery cleanup project

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan sees 113,863 cases, 6,623 deaths

Cassopolis

Cass County to partake in annual Crop Hunger Walk

Brandywine Education

Performing Arts Workshops launches memorial fundraising campaign

News

Court of Appeals rules secretary Benson acted lawfully in mailing absentee voter ballot applications to registered voters

Dowagiac

SMC welcomes new dean of business, advanced technology

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Elks to host annual Guys & Dolls Golf Outing

Cass County

Michigan Works! closes central office, opens three new locations

Berrien County

MSP traffic stop data reveals need for deeper study

Berrien County

Ballard staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Cass County

Two arrested on meth charges in Pokagon Township

Berrien County

Lakeland Heart and Vascular earns testing reaccreditation by IAC

News

Court of Appeals: Absentee ballot mailers were lawfully distributed

Cassopolis

Our Father’s Family Keeper Ministries helps families in need during pandemic