Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

With Michigan still falling short of its testing goal, some patients need multiple tests to get an accurate diagnosis.

MICHIGAN — President Donald Trump said Saturday he ordered COVID-19 testing to be slowed down — a statement the White House tried to walk back, only to have the president double down Tuesday. But Michigan still hasn’t reached its testing goal.

Michigan has said its goal is 15,000 tests per day, The ‘Gander reported. And while WDIV reports that Michigan surpassed 1 million tests Monday, that still represents only 13,000 tests per day. Though far closer to the goal than in the past, that still falls short by 2,000.

For many residents, access to a test means all the difference in beating COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

“[I] was sick with fever and cough at the end of March, [and] my work sent me to McLaren to be tested by the health department,” Frannie LoGrasso, a nurse from Marine City, told The ‘Gander. “They refused to test me because I did not have shortness of breath. Went straight to my doc, who gave me an inhaler and z-pack.”

Two weeks passed before LoGrasso could get a nasal swab test. It came back negative, but she still felt sick. Her doctor ordered X-ray scans of her lungs, which showed scarring, so she got an antibody test. That test came back positive, giving physicians direction as to how to treat her. LoGasso is currently in recovery.

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“Michigan’s fight against COVID-19 is nowhere near over,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “The best way we can know where disease is in the state to stop the spread is to make sure that anyone who needs a test can get one.”

Khaldun encouraged anyone who feels sick, works outside the home, or has sick family members to get tested, and reminded Michiganders that doctors’ orders for tests are no longer required, which is a welcome expansion for those like LoGrasso.

But Trump wants to reduce testing, not expand it.

“Here’s the bad part: When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday. “So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.”

The White House has insisted that Trump’s comments about slowing down testing were made in jest, though CNN notes the comment is consistent with his broader attitude toward testing. Tuesday, Trump dismissed the idea that he was joking and doubled-down on the statement that he called for testing to be slowed.

COURIER reports that Trump has downplayed the importance of testing repeatedly and has called for slowdowns in testing before for a similar reason. 

“If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” Trump said at the White House last week.

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But if testing is slowed or stopped, that only creates the illusion of fewer cases. People like LoGrasso were sick even without being properly diagnosed with the virus. All reducing testing does is make it harder to understand the actual state of the pandemic and assess risks associated with reengaging state economies.

“Testing is the foundation of COVID-19 crisis response,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer testified to Congress on June 2. “To safely reengage our economy and resume in-person social activities, we must respond nimbly to new data about transmission and health risks of the virus, which is why our ability to test our population remains paramount. Through Herculean efforts, Michigan has made strides in scaling up testing in the state.”

But, Whitmer testified, that testing has had issues. 

The nasal swabs LoGrasso used were often not matched to the ones needed by different labs and were hard to obtain, Whitmer testified. 

Further, the shipments have raised alarms across the country for their inconsistent form. NPR reported that swabs have been packaged in bulk when sent to locations nationwide. Swabs are usually individually wrapped to prevent cross-contamination. Further, the ability to break off the sample from the rest of the swab’s shaft is not always present, which can lead to the contamination of a completed nasal swab test.

To locate a no-cost test site in Michigan, check this list on the state’s website.