Governor Whitmer Asks MDHHS to Surge 300,000 COVID-19 Test Kits to Schools and Other Priority Groups Amid Omicron Spike

Governor Whitmer Asks MDHHS to Surge 300,000 COVID-19 Test Kits to Schools and Other Priority Groups Amid Omicron Spike

(AMN) – To help ensure rapid testing is available to schools, long-term care facilities, jails, homeless shelters and for seasonal workers, Governor Whitmer has asked the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to begin distributing more than 200,000 test kits to schools and other priority groups, with another 100,000 slated to go out this week. These large-scale shipments are being made per a request from Governor Whitmer to get every test kit the state has available out to ensure availability of testing for the state’s most vulnerable residents during the unprecedented Omicron surge.

“Tests are critical keeping Michiganders safe and controlling the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will deliver hundreds of thousands of tests to Michiganders in schools, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and to our first responders and local health departments. I applaud their efforts, and I encourage Michiganders to get their vaccine and booster shots, which remain the best way to keep yourself and your family safe.” 

“Antigen and over-the-counter tests allow Michiganders to very quickly determine if they are positive for the virus and take actions to isolate and seek treatment if needed,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “MDHHS continues to work diligently to provide test kits to ensure access to tests for Michiganders as we know testing is an important tool to limit the spread of the virus. We strongly urge all Michiganders ages 5 and older to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and their booster dose when eligible, as the vaccine is our best defense against the virus.” 

Demand for these tests have grown over recent months with nearly 700,000 tests shipped out in the first two weeks of January 2022 and over 1 million tests to be distributed this month alone. January 2022 will represent the largest distribution of tests in a single month from the MDHHS program. This week, more than 200,000 test kits will have been sent to the following groups: 

  • Schools – 117,740 
  • Long Term Care facilities – 67,680 
  • Local health departments – 6,936 
  • Jails – 5,640 
  • Camps – 2,000 
  • Shelters – 1,320 
  • Seasonal Workers – 600 
  • Juvenile Justice facilities – 480 
  • First responders – 66 
  • Total – 202,462 

Due to increased demand across the nation for these tests and increasing cases of COVID-19 spurred by the Omicron variant, MDHHS is working diligently to purchase as many tests kits as possible. In November 2021, MDHHS launched the MI Backpack Home Tests program to provide free, at-home COVID antigen tests to parents, students and staff. Nearly 175,000 tests have been provided through this program to date. 

Earlier this month, MDHHS launched a pilot program with 17 libraries across the state to help provide access to OTC tests with more than 5,000 tests provided to these sites.  

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has worked to ensure Michiganders have access to testing to help limit the spread of the virus. Since October 2020, more than 7.1 million antigen and over the counter COVID-19 tests have been distributed to provide testing for some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. 

This includes test kits provided to long-term care facilities, schools, corrections facilities, local health departments, psychiatric hospitals, libraries, shelters, Community Action Agencies and others.   

Test distribution October 2020 to present: 

Data below is in the following order. Project/Facility/Venue – Total Tests Shipped – % of All Tests Shipped

Long Term Care – 1,881,420 – 26.4%

Schools – 1,507,102 – 21.1%

Spring School Sports Mandate – 1,355,390 – 19.0%

MI Department of Corrections -740,035 – 10.4%

Local Health Departments – 674,665 – 9.5%

Psych Hospitals – 383,160 – 5.4%

MI Backpack Program – 174,870 – 2.5%

Other – 418,850 – 5.9%

TOTAL: 7,135,492 | 100%

The general public have numerous options for accessing COVID-19 testing such as identification of MDHHS supported community popup testing sites, which include testing at welcome centers and airports in addition to 22 neighborhood testing sites across the state. These locations have also performed a record number of tests in the month of January. Michiganders can also locate testing sites near them through an online search tool.  

The public can also request free at home tests through a federal government partnership with the United States Postal Service  

The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.