State Rep. Beau LaFave, of Iron Mountain, today called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to open a COVID-19 testing site in the Upper Peninsula to provide local, symptomatic residents greater access to the medical services they deserve.
Earlier this week, Gov. Whitmer announced 13 new or expanded COVID-19 testing sites across the state to increase COVID-19 testing and receive test results quicker, giving public health officials real-time data as they work to combat the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan. Of the 19 testing sites statewide, none of them are in the Upper Peninsula, which LaFave said is unacceptable.
“While the city of Detroit has nearly twice the number of residents as the Upper Peninsula, the U.P. is nearly 115 times larger than Detroit,” LaFave said. “It’s unacceptable to force U.P. families to drive hundreds of miles and across the bridge to access hasty COVID-19 testing and results. Although we have not had an uptick in coronavirus cases here in the U.P., we – along with the rest of rural Michigan – don’t have an efficient testing process. Tests are taken in limited numbers and results do not come back for long periods of time.”
Only 111 COVID-19 tests have been processed to date according to the Dickinson County Healthcare System, a hospital which serves central U.P. families and the residents of adjoining Wisconsin counties. LaFave said the lack of testing is underserving U.P. families and creating a challenge for local health officials as they rely on testing data to guide their response efforts.
“Without access to testing, there’s no way of accurately assessing where COVID-19 is,” LaFave said. “We need greater testing to maximize the response of our health care professionals and give families in our communities the answers they not only seek, but deserve. I implore the governor to send these services to the U.P. so we can ensure residents are healthy, safe, and ready to go back to work.”