COVID-19 labs in mid-Michigan are backed up and at-home test kits are hard to find

Posted at 10:32 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 14:03:55-05

LANSING, Mich. — COVID-19 labs in mid-Michigan are backed up, delaying PCR test results, but health officials still encourage people to get tested, especially when they are experiencing symptoms.

“We've seen a really big uptick in testing over the last week. Last week, we were averaging about 540 patients a day. Yesterday, we did 867 patients,” said Elizabeth Reust, the laboratory manager at Sparrow Hospitals.

The Sparrow testing facility at 3131 E. Michigan Ave in Lansing offers PCR tests only. With increased testing volume, they cannot ensure a 24-hour turnaround time.

“We're really trying to get them done in 24 hours. But as volume increases, our turnaround time will also increase,” Reust said.

Dr. Cheryl Elfrin, the assistant medical director at Lansing Urgent Care, said, “For the most part, the rapid test is sufficient for most people's circumstances.”

Rapid testing is another option as those are not sent to a lab. Elfrin said Lansing Urgent Care offers rapid testing at all eight locations.

“Our tests are approximately 95 to 98 percent accurate, so they're very sensitive, as far as a rapid test goes. For the most part, the rapid test is sufficient for most people's circumstances,” Elfrin said.

People are switching to purchasing at-home tests, but with the increase in testing, retailers have implemented a purchase limit. CVS set a limit of six test kits per customer, Walgreens of four, and kits from the Amazon brand are limited to 10. However, they are still hard to find and their accuracy is a concern for medical professionals.

“The home tests are not nearly as accurate as our rapid tests that we do here,” Elfrin said.

Elfrin said that if anyone comes in with COVID-19 symptoms and does not have insurance, the government will cover all necessary testing, including for strep or the flu, and would also pay for a chest x-ray and other expenses if the patient is being tested for COVID as well.

“We are also seeing a fair amount of influenza A and we are also seeing just general typical viruses that are non-COVID,” Elfrin said.

Lansing Urgent Care will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, but closed on Christmas Day, while the Sparrow facility will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Elfrin encourages people to get tested when they are having symptoms or believe they have been exposed.

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