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Former Michigan State Fairgrounds to become drive-through COVID-19 testing site

Mike Duggan
City of Detroit

The former Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit will have a new use starting Friday: as a drive-through testing site for COVID-19.

The new testing site is a partnership between the city of Detroit, three local health systems—Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Medical Center, and Trinity Health—and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. Those three counties account for nearly 85% of Michigan’s COVID-19 cases right now.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said officials negotiated testing capacity with BioReference Labs in New Jersey, and Dr. Roberto Romero of Wayne State University created 6,000 test kits to avoid resource competition with hospitals.

Duggan said the state fairgrounds should be able to test up to 500 people a day.

“If we do this right, we can move 40 or 50 people an hour who will come through, be swabbed, we will take the kits, [and] send them by plane twice a day to New Jersey,” Duggan said. “The way the turnaround’s going we’ll have the results back in three to four days.”

“This is a significant expansion of the state’s testing for COVID-19.”

A doctor’s prescription and an appointment are required to get tested there, Duggan said. The hope is that this is the start of a larger testing expansion.

“As our lab capacity expands, I expect that the three county executives will each open a site based upon our model, and we will all work together,” Duggan said. “That’s how we get to the kind of testing that we’re ultimately going to need to get to beat this.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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