Oakland County Begins Drive-Thru Testing for First Responders, Essential Workers, Pontiac Residents

Airmen assigned to the 56th Medical Group conduct COVID-19 tests March 23, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, the 56th MDG is utilizing drive-thru services to conduct tests. The 56th MDG is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and working closely with Arizona health officials to decrease the impact of COVID-19 at Luke AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

Oakland County will begin drive-thru COVID-19 testing Thursday for first responders, essential business employees and Pontiac residents who display symptoms of the coronavirus, County Executive David Coulter said.

The county, in partnership with Honor Community Health, will offer testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and weekdays after that at the county complex at 1200 N. Telegraph Road in Pontiac.

It is expected that between 50-100 tests will be offered the first two days and capacity will increase to 250 tests a day next week. Results are expected within 24-48 hours.

“We are grateful that Honor Community Health is working with us to provide much needed testing,” Coulter said. “It’s important for our first responders and essential business employees such as those who work in grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants remain healthy and safe. Our efforts at stopping the spread of the virus are working but we can’t let down our guard.”

First responders, essential business employees and Pontiac residents who display symptoms of the coronavirus – fever, trouble breathing, persistent dry cough, have underlying health conditions or are age 65 or older – should call the Health Division’s “Nurse on Call” hotline at 1-800-848-5533 to schedule an appointment.

Pontiac was identified by the county’s Health Division as a location where fewer residents have been tested than in other communities. Testing will be opened to others as capacity increases, Coulter said.

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“Instead of requiring a doctor’s prescription for the testing, the medical director from our Health Division will issue a standing order on who meets the guidelines for a test,” Coulter said. “We want to make this as barrier-free as possible. We must identify the extent of the virus in our communities and address the problem.”

The Health Division also issued a new emergency order requiring essential business employees who provide goods and services and have face-to-face contact with the public or are in close contact with goods the public may purchase to wear facial coverings. The covering should fit snugly over the face and mouth and can be homemade or store-bought.

The employees should not use surgical masks and other more protective masks normally worn by health care workers and first responders as those masks are in short supply.

The health order encourages immediate compliance. It becomes mandatory on April 27.

The order continues the requirement that essential businesses perform daily screening for all employees, including:

  • Checking for symptoms of the coronavirus
  • Determining if the employee has traveled domestically or internationally within the past 14 days.
  • Any close contact within the past 14 days of anyone with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • If an employee answers “yes” to any of the questions, the health order requires the employee be excluded from work.

The complete order is available at www.oakgov.com/COVID. The website also offers the latest figures on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Oakland County, fatalities and the number of people who have recovered from the virus.