Instant COVID-19 tests to be used for Detroit nursing homes, homeless shelters

In an effort to protect those more medically vunerable, the city of Detroit is ramping up COVID-19 testing in nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Denise Fair, Chief Public Health Officer of the Detroit Health Department, said there are confirmed cases at 19 of Detroit’s 28 nursing homes. Earlier this week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said there have been 12 deaths.

On Tuesday, the city announced they would be bringing nursing home staff in for testing, and Wayne State students will be working overnight to run tests for elderly residents who can’t go in for testing.

Now the city is ramping up their testing efforts and utilizing the instant COVID-19 tests from Abbott Laboratories because of the serious situation at nursing homes. These tests return results in as few as five minutes. Detroit was given five machines and 5,000 testing kits, and Duggan said Detroit is running 200-250 instant COVID-19 tests a day.

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Denise Fair, Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones and a team of EMTs will work together to identify nursing homes with the highest degrees of infections. 

“We have to protect the folks who can't protect themselves,” said Duggan.

Arthur Jemison, group executive for housing, planning, and development, said another medically vulnerable population are those without homes. He said homeless people are in stores and on buses and are talking to and seeing almost 100 people a day in some cases.

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Nurses are going to shelters Monday, Wednesday and Friday for wellness checks. Jamisen said so far, 13 people without homes have tested positive for COVID-19, 33 people are quarantined -- 26 men and 7 women. He said 18 tests are pending and two people will be tested Friday.

“By protecting them, we’re protecting all of us,” he said.

The city announced Thursday they will start using those instant tests for those who are homeless.