Health officials can test up to 3,000 for COVID-19
Free testing available this week
OSCEOLA, MECOSTA COUNTIES -- Health officials will have 3,000 COVID-19 testing kits on hand as they prepare to offer free testing this week to residents.
The District Health Department No. 10, in collaboration with the National Guard, will be testing 2-7 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Trinity Fellowship EFC Parking Lot.
Karen Ripke, emergency preparedness for the health department, told the Herald Review the National Guard is bringing 1,500 tests for each day of testing.
"The testing itself is pretty quick," Ripke said. " … People can line up (in their vehicles) as early as they want."
The longest part of the process, Ripke said, is waiting in your car. Appointments are not being accepted and will be done on a first come, first serve basis.
"It takes 5-7 minutes to register a person in their car," Ripke said. "The National Guard then administers the test. They put the (testing) swab in one nostril and twirl in around for five seconds."
The tests use a nasopharyngeal swab which is a long cotton-tipped swab that staff insert in a person's nose. The tests determine current COVID-19 status but not whether a person has previously had the virus.
Those wanting to be tested must be 18 or older and need to bring a picture ID.
Test results will take 7-9 days. The health department only contacts individuals if their test results come back positive. All other results are followed up by the medical care providers who ordered the tests.
The health department recently offered free testing in Wexford and Manistee counties where the current confirmed case count sits at 40 and 22, respectively.
"In Wexford County, we had 100 cars lined up before the testing even started," Ripke said.
At previous free testings, health officials have not had to turn anyone away.
"If there are people in line, we will get them tested," Ripke said.
Trinity Fellowship EFC Parking Lot is located at 15085 220th Avenue in Big Rapids.
Testing is available to Mecosta County and nearby county residents at no cost.