Traveling? Home COVID-19 test kits may not be enough | News, Sports, Jobs

News photo by Julie Riddle Tracie Schaedig, a receptionist at the Thunder Bay Community Health Department in Rogers City, delivers a COVID-19 test kit outside the health center on Monday.

ALPENA – Residents who have had COVID-19 and want to get on a plane or attend a concert may need to prove that the infection happened long enough for them to have had time to recover — and home testing kits don’t provide that detail, health officials warn.

Getting an official test at a clinic or pharmacy will show when the test was taken and can help residents prove their infection occurred before recommended quarantine times, officials say. COVID-19 tests can show positive results even after residents exceed the recommended quarantine time, officials say.

District health officials on Monday reported 29 new COVID-19 infections among northeast Michigan residents over the past week, less than half of the 76 new cases reported the week before.

Those numbers don’t paint the whole picture, said Cathy Goike, a certified health education specialist for the No. 4 District Health Department.

About 90% of people who have detected COVID-19 have recently done so through home testing — and those test results are not released to the public, Goike said.

Residents routinely call the District No. 4 Health Department’s hotline to report the illness, such as the seven people who called at 9 a.m. Monday to report they had tested positive over the weekend.

While health officials appreciate knowing about these positive tests, they can’t report or verify them — and that can mean frustration for residents down the line, Goike said.

The virus can show up on tests for weeks after an infected person’s required quarantine period ends. If an airline or entertainment venue requires proof of health, only tests performed by medical personnel at health clinics or pharmacies will officially verify when someone has been sick and if they have had time to recover. get over it, Goike said.

While on-site testing offers official advice, home testing available at many pharmacies and free from the US Department of Health or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help residents decide what to do next. they suspect they may be sick.

The currently predominant COVID-19 variant in northeastern Michigan typically produces mild symptoms, sometimes nothing more than an itchy nose, Goike said.

Although the disease may not lead to a hospital stay, especially for fully vaccinated people, “we still have a lot of vulnerable people” who could get very sick or even die if exposed to the virus, warned Goike.

Anyone who knows they have been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested and exercise caution in public, even if no symptoms appear, health officials say.

Tests may not detect the virus in an infected person for five days after exposure, but that person may still be contagious, Goike said.

Anyone who tests positive must self-isolate for five days after a positive test or the first symptoms, when they are most contagious. They should wear masks in public for the next five days, when they are less contagious but can still spread the disease to others, according to current medical guidelines.

People living with people who test positive should do their best to stay apart and monitor symptoms carefully. People without symptoms can continue with their daily routines, but should consider masking up and staying at least six feet away from others, especially around high-risk populations.

Exposed people should test three to seven days after exposure or if symptoms develop.

Links to order free home tests, find free testing sites, and learn other information related to COVID-19 are available at

Northeast Michigan public health officials reported that three Northeast Michigan residents have died in the past month after being infected with the coronavirus.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jriddleX.

Where to test

* Alcona Health Center: Rapid testing and same-day dispatch appointments open to the community at the Acute Care Clinic on US-23 in Alpena. Call 989-356-4049 for an appointment. Send home tests to those who have an order from another healthcare provider or facility; any resident can pick up home test kits from locations in Alpena, Ossineke and Lincoln.

*Thunder Bay Community Health Service: Same-day rapid tests and dispatch test appointments open to patients. Call 989-742-4583 for an appointment. Any resident can pick up home testing kits at locations in Rogers City, Atlanta and Onaway.

* Pharmacies: In Alpena, schedule COVID-19 testing at Meijer, Walgreens and Rite Aid pharmacies by visiting the companies’ websites or at LeFave Pharmacy by calling 989-354-3189.

Free at-home testing is available at District Health Department #4 locations in Alpena, Atlanta and Rogers City.

When to test

Take a home test:

* If you start showing symptoms of COVID-⁠19 such as fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or

* At least 5 days after being in close contact with someone with COVID-⁠19, or

* When you are going to meet with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of serious illness or who are not up to date with their COVID-⁠19 vaccines.

What if I test positive?

* A positive home test result means the test detected the virus and you most likely have COVID-⁠19.

* Stay home for at least 5 days and isolate yourself from others in your home.

* If you test positive and your immune system is weakened or you have other health problems, talk to a doctor as soon as possible about available treatment options.

* Contact your doctor for information on an oral medication available in some cases for the treatment of COVID-19.

What if I test negative?

* A negative home test result means the test did not detect the virus and you may have a lower risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others. Consult your test kit instructions for specific next steps. If you test negative, you should test again in a few days with at least 24 hours between tests.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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