The city of Detroit, with the cooperation of businesses and local health systems, will open a drive-through coronavirus testing site at the state fairgrounds at Woodward and 8 Mile Road, starting Friday.
Testing will be available on an appointment basis, and only with a doctor's prescription. No drop-ins will be accepted.
The plans were announced by Mayor Mike Duggan, accompanied by health-system executives, at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Duggan said testing will start at 9 a.m. Friday, and no one will be seen without an appointment. Appointments will be arranged by workers from Quicken Loans call centers, and calls will be taken starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, through 7 p.m.
The number to call is (313) 230-0505.
No walkups will be seen, although if individuals have transportation issues, arrangements can be made, the mayor said. Patients who need a ride should ask when they make an appointment. Only people experiencing symptoms should ask for a doctor's prescription and an appointment, the mayor stressed, calling testing of asymptomatic individuals "a waste of time and resources."
Duggan said the city hopes to test 40-50 people a day at the site, where patients can maintain social distance from others while the tests are performed. Tests will be flown twice a day to a lab in New Jersey, and results should be expected in three to four days. Cars carrying patients should enter the fairgrounds off State Fair Road, south of 8 Mile. The mayor said that they hope to avoid traffic backups as the procedures begin.
The mayor praised Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state's medical executive, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, for the work they've done managing the pandemic in Michigan.
"The best minds in the region have put this plan together," he said. Improved testing is necessary to separate, isolate and treat the sick, as the disease continues to spread around the world. The U.S. has lagged far behind the rest of the world in its testing and procedures, making it hard to get ahead of the coronavirus.
Wright L. Lassiter III, CEO of Henry Ford Health System, was seated at the table with Duggan. Lassiter said it was "vitally imperative that we come together" to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. He said there are currently 591 COVID-19 patients at HFHS hospitals across the health care system, with another 107 awaiting test results.
Both HFHS and Beaumont Health System are nearing their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients and are seeking overflow sites to treat more. As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of cases in the state stood at 2,295, with 43 deaths.