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Federal funding needed for expanded COVID-19 testing

Testing is essential in the age of COVID-19, and recently announced federal funding should go a long way in helping the situation.

U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow announced that almost $14.5 million in federal funds will be awarded to 39 health centers across Michigan to expand their coronavirus testing operations. The list includes the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center.

The funding from the Department of Health and Human Services will support the various testing methods and related testing activities that best suit the conditions on the ground for each individual health care center.

Money can be used for purchasing personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers, staff training, public service announcements, procurement and administration of tests, laboratory upkeep, notifying identified contacts of infected individuals of their potential coronavirus exposure, and expanding both walk-up and drive-up testing operations.

UGLFHC Administrative Director Elise Bur said testing is being provided at all nine UGLFHC centers, including the Gwinn and Sawyer facilities.

“The funding is going to continue to support and allow us to further investigate and expand opportunities for testing,” Bur told The Mining Journal on Monday.

The funding not only will support the UGLFHC get more tests, it will help procure more PPE and other things associated with testing.

Specific drive-through testing at two sites was opened to the public in Houghton, with the facility in Gwinn open to UGLFLC patients in a drive-through capacity only for several days last week.

Bur said this might be something UGLFHC may investigate — opening the Gwinn drive-through site to the public.

“We need to increase test results, period, to try to learn more about this,” Bur said.

We agree. To get a better handle on what society is facing during the pandemic, it needs to know who is infected. With increased testing, people who test positive can isolate themselves further to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

That means things such as PPE and training, and this federal funding should help with the essential need for more testing.

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