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Medical Assistant Alex LaVake exits a tent at Northwest Michigan Health Services on East Traverse Highway in Traverse City on Wednesday, April 15. The drive-up COVID-19 testing site opened on April 13. 

TRAVERSE CITY — Northwest Michigan Health Services Inc. in Elmwood Township announced COVID-19 testing is now available for “anyone who’s interested” on Friday.

Since the site opened its drive-through testing site April 13 along with 11 community health centers across the state of Michigan, NMHSI staff said it has conducted over 300 tests.

Friday afternoon Chief Development Officer Gwen Williams said they had a standing order to be able to do testing for those without symptoms and hopes to increase testing in the area.

“We know that the state has set a goal to significantly expand testing across risk groups, geographic areas, and demographic variables and the expanded testing available at NMHSI will help us to reach that goal and gather important data about the picture of COVID-19 in northern Michigan” said Lisa Peacock, health officer of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department.

During a conference call Thursday, Peacock said the facility — like many in the region — had approached widespread testing of asymptomatic patients carefully due to an increasing constraint on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a continued constraints on lab supplies.

But Peacock said the facility slowly began to expand the number of tests they were running over time, and have made it clear that anyone who feels they need a test can get one from them.

“If you have thought about getting tested but weren’t sure you should, now is the time,” said Heidi Brown, NMHSI’s CEO. “We know that the virus can spread even when people don’t have any symptoms. We have tried to make the process as easy as possible.” to accomplish the goal of getting more people tested.

“It is likely that we haven’t seen the peak of the virus yet in our northwestern rural areas, so as we consider phased re-opening, knowing the amount of virus in our communities is key to doing so safely.”

Those interested can call 231-642-5292 to make an appointment. The facility, located at 10767 E. Traverse Hwy., is open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by appointment only.

By the numbers

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced four cases of the coronavirus in the region on Friday. Two cases were added in Roscommon County, one case was added in Wexford County and one case was added in Otsego County. One death was announced in Otsego County as well.

Statewide numbers increased by 680 new cases on Friday with 50 deaths.

The Grand Traverse County Health Department began reporting recovered COVID-19 patients on its dashboard. As of Friday it says 13 of 20 patients have recovered, five have died.

In previous weeks, MDHHS has updated the number of statewide recoveries on Saturdays. The state defines a COVID-19 recovery as a living individual who is 30 days past the date of illness-onset.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, a data set maintained by The Atlantic, Michigan surpassed 13,000 test results reported for the second straight day on Friday. In Thursday’s press conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state’s goal is to test at least 15,000 people per day by the end of May.

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