Got COVID? Michigan has 66 one-stop shops that both test and treat
With COVID treatments now widely available in Michigan, there are dozens of one-stop sites across the state where you can get tested and treated at the same time.
“We have a surplus in the state, to be honest,” Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious diseases research at Beaumont Health, said of the treatments.
“If you’ve got COVID, and you’re in one of those high-risk groups, you should be getting treatment,” Sims told Bridge readers at a lunch Zoom session Wednesday.
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The Biden administration launched the one-stop, Test-to-Treat sites in March, with hundreds across the nation and 66 in Michigan.
COVID test-and-treat pharmacies
There are 66 pharmacies in Michigan that now offer “test-and-treat” service for COVID-19. Customers can get tested for coronavirus and, if positive, get a therapeutic drug. Each location displayed has received an order of Paxlovid or Lagevrio (molnupiravir) in the last two months and/or has reported availability of the oral antiviral medications within the last two weeks.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Usually found in pharmacies and federally-qualified health centers, the sites are in 26 of Michigan’s 83 counties, mostly in the southern half of the state. A handful are scattered in northern Michigan, with two more in the Upper Peninsula.
“They’ll test you for COVID there in the pharmacy and, if you test positive, they’ll prescribe you the medicine right there on the spot,” said Dr. Mark Hamed, director of the emergency and hospitalist departments at McKenzie Health System in Michigan’s Thumb region.
That’s important because, for each of the three COVID treatments, they are only effective in reducing the odds of serious illness or death if taken soon after the onset of symptoms.
A recently-authorized monoclonal antibody treatment must be given within seven days of symptoms, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
And for two antiviral pills: “Your magic number is five days from the start” of symptoms, Hamed said.
Even in regions where there are no test-and-treat sites close by, that doesn’t mean there aren’t treatments available. There are hundreds of pharmacies with COVID treatment drugs, though you’ll need a doctor to prescribe them for you. (A full list of therapies and providers is here.)
Hamed and Sims spoke about treatment availability in a wide-ranging Bridge Lunch Break session Wednesday on how to make daily decisions on COVID in a post-surge world.
The broad availability of COVID treatments — that is, medication given once you’re diagnosed with COVID, as opposed to vaccines, which are designed to help prevent infection — represents a sea change from just a few months back, when treatments were in limited supply.
Until recently, doctors had to fill out special paperwork to dispense them and, often, there weren’t enough available, anyway. But as COVID cases and hospitalizations fell this spring, the supply of proven treatments continued to build.
Prescribing protocols have been relaxed, too, Sims said.
Prescriptions for antiviral drugs and monoclonal antibodies appear to be on a slight increase, according to Chelsea Wuth, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
That’s perhaps a reflection of a slight upswing in cases for the third week in a row. Even so, the courses prescribed so far represent a small fraction of what the state now has on hand, according to MDHHS.
In Michigan, just 7,400 of the state’s supply of 34,300 courses of the antiviral pill Paxlovid have been given out. Paxlovid has been shown to reduce the possibility of serious illness or death by about 90 percent. And just three percent of the roughly 58,000 antiviral treatment, Molnupiravir, has been dispensed.
Both drugs require several pills daily for five days, and have been shown to be effective in curbing the worst outcomes of COVID.
This week, the White House announced plans to double the number of places that can provide the pills, and stepped up efforts to raise awareness about the availability of the therapies, noting an “ample” national supply.
The state health department has issued similar reminders.
In addition to the pills, the monoclonal antibody bebtelovimab has won emergency use approval from the FDA and appears to be the only monoclonal treatment effective against the BA.2 subvariant of omicron. In Michigan, just over 1,200 of the state’s 11,445 doses of bebtelovimab have been prescribed, according to recent state data.
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