This past weekend, 1,229 people showed up at Kellogg Community College (KCC) to be tested for COVID-19.   Calhoun County Health officer Eric Pessell says it went very smoothly, as the weather was perfect and the event was well-planned. Pessell was a guest on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins on Monday.  “We could have even done more.  I talked to the National Guard, and we think we could have tested three or four thousand on the two days if we had to, which is a prelude to potential mass vaccination clinics looking forward to maybe early next year.”

The Health Department partnered with the Michigan National Guard, the City of Battle Creek, CERT, Kellogg Community College, and Michigan State Police to host the testing event.

Pessel says the lab, a New Jersey company, BioReference Labs, expects to have the results processed in 5 to 7 days.  Collins asked about the results from the testing event in Albion on May 30th and 31st, when 694 people were tested.  “We’re still getting those, but they’re coming in pretty slow”, said Pessell.  “We think the lab has figured out what the issue is on their end.”  If those results do indeed show up on June 8th, as hoped, that would be more than a week.    Collins questioned whether that’s even acceptable as health officials need the information sooner to track the virus and contain the spread.   Pessell acknowledged that it’s a big concern, one that he has taken up with State Officials. “In order for us to really get folks isolated, we need it within three days or 72 hours.”   But Pessel says the testing also has another benefit.

“We’re going to be able to see just what percentage of the general population is asymptomatic-positive,”   Pessell says nobody who came through the testing sites had any symptoms of COVID-19.

The Health Department says all participants from both this and the previous weekend’s testing event in Albion should expect a call from county staff or the National Guard to inform them of their results and talk through any necessary guidance. They say answering these calls is vital to the work of public health – answering allows you to talk through your test results and ask any questions you may have. Answering also allows health workers to conduct the important work of contact tracing to track the spread of the disease and stop that spread with early intervention. These discussions are protected by HIPAA and are confidential.

The lab used to process all samples taken at both mass testing events is called BioReference Labs. The turn around for results from the May 30/31 in Albion is taking longer than we hoped, and as we await results, BioReference has shared instructions for participants who might like to create a free account through them. For those so inclined, creating an account will allow you to get updates about your results, and e-mail their team to ask any questions you may have. Instructions provided are as follows:

  1. Go to bioreference.com/patient-portal and select TEST RESULTS.
  2. Click the CREATE AN ACCOUNT button and complete the registration process.
  3. Results may not be available on the patient portal for up to 5-7 days after collection so please continue to check back regularly.

As of 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 8, Calhoun County has a cumulative total of 414 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD), with a total of 25 deaths attributed to the virus.

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