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Oakland County launches drive-thru COVID-19 testing, expands health orders

Jake Neher
via oakgov.com

Oakland County is opening up its own drive-thru COVID-19 testing site on the county government’s Pontiac campus.

It will only test people with COVID-19 symptoms. It will focus on first responders, essential business employees, and Pontiac residents to start.

“The site is in Pontiac, and we know from a public health perspective that it’s one of the lowest-tested communities in our county,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said.

Testing won’t require a doctor’s prescription. But it does require an appointment, and screening done through the county health department’s “Nurse On Call” hotline.

“We want to make this as barrier-free as possible,” Coulter said. “We must identify the extent of the virus in our communities and address the problem.”

Coulter said the site will begin testing around 25-50 people a day, and increase that to around 250 next week. The hope is to expand the testing criteria to include more people, but Coulter said it’s not clear how quickly that will happen.

“In terms of testing, in terms of swabs, in terms of masks--supplies have been an ongoing challenge,” Coulter said.

Coulter also issued an orderrequiring all essential business employees who work with the public to wear masks or another facial covering. It urges businesses to comply immediately, and becomes mandatory on April 27th.

Coulter also extended requirements that businesses screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis. If an employee answers “yes” to any of the screening questions, they must be sent home.

Only Wayne County has seen more COVID-19 cases and deaths than Oakland. As of Tuesday, Oakland reported 5,364 cases and 364 deaths. 380 county residents have recovered from the virus.

Coulter said he’s relying on the county’s public health officials to guide his decision-making about when to ease up on restrictions. He said rushing that process could cost more lives and cause even more economic damage.

“Part of what re-opening the state economy looks like is more robust testing,” Coulter said.

“It has to be done carefully. There’s no question that what we don’t want to do is re-open non-essential businesses, and then have a second wave of this pandemic hit us.”

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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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