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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

COVID test results slow to come back

It is taking longer to get test results back for COVID-19 samples than the length of the actual isolation period for a person suspected to be positive for the disease. Commissioner Glenn Anderson asked about testing available in the wake of the omicron surge at Monday’s Western Upper Peninsula Health Department monthly meeting. Chief Health Officer Kate Beer said both antigen rapid tests and PCR, what is officially used to tabulate COVID-19 activity in the region, can be collected at sites run by the department, or in the immediate vicinity.

Beer says antigen tests are used first, and if they come back positive then a PCR test would be administered as a follow up. The problem is the length of time to get results back.

It’s about seven days — five to seven days, which is outside the isolation window. I talked to the contractor to see if we can run the test at our lab and they refuse. They’re a federal contractor.

Beer says the issue stems from a federal contractor requiring analysis to be completed off site from the department’s testing facility. Local hospitals are getting results faster, usually in two to three days.

WUPHD has modified its procedure when individuals want to submit samples for COVID-19 testing in Hancock. The Depot Street location should be freed up for people needing to visit for other reasons.

We now have a drive-thru window. We’ll probably go to a model where people can swab themselves and deposit it. I think Aspirus is going to that model too. The added benefit to that too is it slows down the traffic within the building for anybody that wants to stop by and pick up some supplies, like the radon kits.

Staffing continues to be an issue in some respects. Narcotics testing is being hampered due to a requirement that witnesses for sample submissions be of the same gender as the person being tested.

One of the factors that we’re having trouble with is weekend hours to make sure we cover the drug court testing. They are requiring that we have a man to witness the men, so we’ll try to figure that out.

Most drug court testing is scheduled for Saturday or Sunday

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