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COVID testing planned in Kingsford

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County has five active cases of COVID-19 as it prepares for a drive-through testing clinic next week in Kingsford, the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator said Monday.

With three new cases reported Monday, it’s too early to say if there may yet be a greater spike related to the Fourth of July, Pete Schlitt told the county board.

“I’m a little nervous about that,” he said. “We’ve had a hodge-podge of cases lately.”

The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department has listed 19 cases in the county since the onset of the pandemic. Two county residents have died from the virus, with the most recent death confirmed April 10.

The drive-through testing Friday, July 24, will be offered in conjunction with the Michigan National Guard. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Kingsford Middle School/High School parking lot.

Schlitt said the Guard plans to have three lanes for people with no symptoms and a fourth lane for those who do have symptoms. Based on inquiries from local employers, at least 400 people already are expected to participate, he told the board.

A state aircraft will take the specimens to a lab in Lansing or Grand Rapids and it’s hoped the turnaround time for results will be 48 to 72 hours, he added.

All testing is free and available for anyone 18 years and older. A doctor’s order is not necessary and no appointment is needed, but participants will be required to bring a driver’s license or photo. I.D. to register. Upon arrival, they will be asked to wear a mask and roll windows of the vehicle down no more than 2 inches to allow for communication.

The Guard will conduct a similar testing clinic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 25, in the Forest Park School student parking lot in Crystal Falls.

Tests are done with a nasal swab to detect the genetic information of the virus, which will present if someone is actively infected. The test does not determine if antibodies are present.

Responding to a question from Commissioner Kevin Pirlot, Schlitt said there has been no National Guard testing at local nursing homes. Although many facilities in Michigan were selected for such screenings, about 75% of the nursing homes in the Upper Peninsula have not been tested, he said.

Previously, Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center and the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department provided COVID-19 drive-through testing in Felch Township on June 24 and in Powers on July 1. The center also is expected to have mobile clinics Tuesday, July 21, in Iron River and again in Felch Township on Wednesday, July 22. Appointments for those sessions can be made by calling 844-947-4854.

The Wisconsin National Guard has twice conducted mobile testing in Florence, Wis., gathering 209 specimens May 12 and 100 specimens June 23.

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