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Free COVID-19 testing coming up: National Guard members to give tests

MARQUETTE — Free coronavirus testing will be offered in Munising, Newberry and St. Ignace this month, the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department announced.

Times and dates are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 18 at the Alger County Road Commission, E. 9264 M-28, Munising; 1 to 7 p.m. July 24 at the St. Ignace Area Schools parking lot, W. 429 Portage Road, St. Ignace; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 25 at the Luce County Road Commission, 12920 Luce County Road 457, Newberry.

The free testing is being offered by the Michigan National Guard in partnership with the LMAS District Health Department, Michigan State Police, Munising Memorial Hospital, Mackinac Straits Health System, Helen Newberry Joy Hospital, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Alger County Road Commission, Luce County Road Commission. St. Ignace Area Schools, Alger County Sheriff’s Department, Luce County Sheriff’s Office, Mackinac County Sheriff’s Office and emergency management in Alger, Luce and Mackinac counties.

Residents do not have to show symptoms of the virus to be tested, nor do they need a doctor’s note. No appointment is needed to receive testing. A state of Michigan ID is required, however, and testing is only for those ages 18 and older. Anyone coming for testing must remain in their vehicle at all times.

Medically trained members of the Michigan National Guard will conduct testing. Those who are tested will be able to access their results through BioReference Laboratories. LMAS will make notification of positive results.

Area nursing home

announces positive test

Eastwood Nursing Center in Negaunee announced on Facebook Wednesday that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19.

“The employee had just found out tonight before receiving their test result that they had been exposed to someone in the community who just tested positive for COVID-19,” the post reads.

The employee had been tested weekly since May and has had all negative tests, including one the week of June 30.

Eastwood said 10 residents were tested on Tuesday for screening purposes, and all came back negative. Testing was to have continued Thursday and will continue weekly until there are no new positives for 14 days.

“We are hopeful that this test came back early enough before the employee has symptoms as they were asymptomatic other than some dizziness that was noted today by the employee,” the post reads.

Bias training required

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed Executive Directive 2020-7, which directs the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to begin developing rules that will require implicit bias training as part of the knowledge and skills necessary for licensure, registration and renewal of licenses and registrations of health professionals in Michigan.

Implicit bias training was one of the recommendations made by the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, which Whitmer created in response to disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on communities of color.

“There’s no doubt that our front-line health care workers like doctors and nurses have been the real heroes of this crisis, putting their lives on the line for us every day,” Whitmer said in a news release. “COVID-19 has had a disparate impact on people of color due to a variety of factors, and we must do everything we can to address this disparity.”

Whitmer said evidence shows that training in implicit bias can make a positive difference.

As of July 5, Black Michiganders represented 14% of the state population, but 40% of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in which the race of the patient was known. COVID-19 is over four times more prevalent among Black Michiganders than among white Michiganders.

The National Healthcare Disparities Report concluded that white patients received care of a higher quality than Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and Asian Americans. People of color face more barriers to accessing health care than white people and are generally less satisfied with their interactions with health care providers.

“The existing health disparities highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic have made it clear that there is more work to do to ensure people of color have the same access to the same quality of health care as everyone else,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, chair of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, in a news release. “By providing awareness to health care workers on how to recognize and mitigate implicit bias, we can help them carry out their mission of providing the best health care to every patient they serve.”

Under Executive Directive 2020-7, LARA is required to consult with relevant stakeholders in the medical profession, in state government and elsewhere in the community by Nov. 1 to help determine relevant goals and concerns under the new rules. LARA will work in collaboration with the relevant professional boards and task forces to promote the rules.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal .net

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