LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will begin distributing a total of 300,000 COVID-19 test kits to schools, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities at the request of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The governor's office announced the move on Thursday in an effort to ensure testing availability to the state's "most vulnerable residents," during the current COVID surge.
“Tests are critical keeping Michiganders safe and controlling the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will deliver hundreds of thousands of tests to Michiganders in schools, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and to our first responders and local health departments. I applaud their efforts, and I encourage Michiganders to get their vaccine and booster shots, which remain the best way to keep yourself and your family safe.”
Michigan schools will receive 117,740 test kits, long term care facilities across the state will receive 67,680 and jails are expected to get over 5,000 kits. Other priority groups like shelters, juvenile justice facilities and camps will all receive testing kits as well.
"MDHHS continues to work diligently to provide test kits to ensure access to tests for Michiganders as we know testing is an important tool to limit the spread of the virus," said health department Director Elizabeth Hertel.
In recent months, at-home testing kits have become more difficult to find because of huge demand. Michigan has seen a significant increase in COVID cases since its lowest numbers last summer. Between Saturday and Wednesday this week, the state reported more than 86,000 new COVID-19 cases.
According to the governor's office, the state has shipped nearly 700,000 testing kits in the first two weeks of January with plans to ship out more than 1 million total tests this month. Michigan's move to deliver test kits to vulnerable populations comes on the heels of a new program organized by the federal government to ship at-home tests directly to Americans.
Officials are urging residents to take advantage of the available test kits and get vaccinated.
"We strongly urge all Michiganders ages 5 and older to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and their booster dose when eligible, as the vaccine is our best defense against the virus," Hertel said.
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