Why Are So Few People in Kalamazoo County Tested For Covid-19?
(UPDATE) People are being turned away for testing in Kalamazoo County leading the public to believe there are no cases.
As of Sunday, March 29th there were 19 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Kalamazoo County. There were only 87 processed tests for Kalamazoo County to date. However, Kalamazoo County testing stats were removed from the county website on Sunday. That number seems low so we reached out to the Kalamazoo County Health Department and asked why. Here's there response,
As you know, this is a rapidly evolving situation, which means that also affects testing and the criteria for testing. Federal, state, and local public health and healthcare systems are actively working on increasing testing capacity. Locally, we are working with our hospital partners to utilize private labs in order to increase our ability to test more individuals. As more labs become available, the guidelines for testing may broaden.
There is a valid concern about undetected COVID-19 cases because of low testing capacity. This is why HCS is urging residents to adhere to the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order. Social distancing (e.g. avoiding groups, staying six feet apart) and community mitigation strategies are important.
We also asked what seems like a silly question, however a valid one; Should people take the Stay Home order seriously? Here is what the Kalamazoo County Health Department had to say,
Yes. Everyone should adhere to the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order.
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office has set up a number and email address to address non-medical related questions from individuals and businesses regarding exemptions with the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order for essential employees and jobs related to public safety, health care and other critical industries, their suppliers and other distributors. Residents, visitors, or local businesses should call 269-385-6101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for any concerns or violations with regards to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order. Lines will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. If lines become overwhelmed at any point, callers will be able to leave a voicemail, and the Sheriff's Office will contact them. Emails will be returned as time allows. There is additional guidance for businesses regarding the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order on MDHHS’s website: www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.
Here's a video Kalamazoo County recently uploaded to answer questions regarding testing.
On Facebook Cat Stephens says she has symptoms and was turned away,
I asked last week on Thursday to be tested from my doctor at Grace Health,I was told no. Called Monday still told no. Been sick for over a week though.
We heard a similar story from Shaun Cornillie on Facebook,
Yup I went to Borgess Immediate Care on Angling and was told they aren’t testing for The Coronavirus or the flu because they wanted to save the cotton swabs.
Same problem in Battle Creek according to Carmen Alexandra,
Both of my brothers suddenly became ill. Fevers, body aches, dry coughs, etc. They were not tested for influenza OR COVID-19 due to lack of tests at urgent care in Battle Creek
It is confusing that other counties in Michigan are testing thousands more people. The fact that we only have 15 tests that have been processed as we are this deep into the pandemic is inexcusable to many. At this point anyone that has symptoms and anyone that has had contact with someone that tested positive should be tested.
In the meantime Warner tells WWMT that people should take the following steps:
- Stay home if you are mildly sick (runny nose, sneezing, cough)
- Call your doctor before going to clinic
- Only go to the emergency department if you are very sick. Severe COVID-19 symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion, chest pain or pressure, and bluish lips. This list is incomplete; talk to your doctor about other signs of medical emergencies
- Follow public health recommendations and orders
- Adhere to the Governor’s executive orders
- Wash your hands
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough with your elbow or sleeve
Click here for a step by step guide on what you should do if you think you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms in Southwest Michigan.