In just 48 hours between Wednesday and Friday afternoon, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan grew almost fivefold, from around 110 to 549.
That dramatic climb isn’t necessarily a result of an uptick in the virus’ spread. At least some of that increase is the result of testing done at private hospitals and universities that has now been added to official state tallies for the first time, increasing the number of people who can be screened for the virus every day.
But even with four major hospitals, two private labs and the state’s lab testing people for COVID-19, tests remain painfully difficult to obtain.
“We don’t have enough tests,” Whitmer said on MSNBC Friday afternoon. “We really need to prioritize who’s getting tests because we don’t have enough, and it’s hard to extrapolate what it really looks like, how many people are carrying COVID-19.”
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The state has a capacity to test about 1,500 people every day in their lab, and is completing tests for about 300 people daily, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It takes two or three days for test results to become available, said chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.
Including tests from private labs, “we believe we are doing about 1,000 tests a day,” Khaldun said Friday.
The state is prioritizing testing people who are at the highest risk of the disease: people over 60 and those who have a pre-existing health condition.
Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, Sparrow Hospital, Beaumont Health and Henry Ford Health system are conducting tests for patients, and national private laboratories Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are taking on tests for private doctors in Michigan.
Henry Ford began testing about 30 patients on Monday, Bridge has reported. They expect to test up to 1,000 people daily within a month, officials said.
None of the other hospitals or labs with testing told Bridge how many tests they are conducting from Michigan patients, though a spokesperson for Michigan Medicine said they can provide same-day results and will share information about capacity next week.
Quest said in a statement it will be able to conduct 10,000 tests a day nationwide by the end of the week and 20,000 tests a day by the end of the month. LabCorp also said in a statement it can now perform 20,000 tests per day. Both are taking samples from doctors nationwide.
By the end of the day Wednesday, 131 cases had been confirmed by the state lab, 203 through the hospitals and universities, and two through the private labs, according to MDHHS.
It’s unclear exactly how many people are unsuccessfully seeking tests statewide, but Whitmer was straightforward about the demand during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“We don’t have enough tests. We don’t have enough resources to process the tests in terms of the ability to run them quick enough,” she said.