When I Googled, “Getting a COVID-19 Test Near Me” over two weeks ago, I had a bad sore throat, a cough and fatigue. Since I am running as a candidate for state representative, I felt I should know if I was COVID-19 positive.
I had read in the local papers that Memorial Healthcare in my town of Owosso was at the forefront of COVID-19 testing. So I called them up. I asked, “How can I schedule a free COVID-19 test?” To my surprise, they said there were no “free” tests at Memorial and that it would cost $110. I was shocked since I had heard that tests were available for free in mid-Michigan. I asked her, “OK, if you don’t offer free tests, where can I go to get one?” She said to her knowledge there wasn’t anywhere close for free testing.
“Where do I get a FREE COVID test near me” was my next Google search, and I ended up on www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/. I had to select the “free test” option with a larger radius of 10 miles to get any results: Rite Aid Pharmacy in Swartz Creek, 16.5 miles away. I then scheduled the first appointment I could for three days later, with results that came another seven days later (negative, thankfully). It was a total of 10 days of being unsure if I was contagious and canceling campaign events, social outings, doctor appointments, etc.
Throughout the entire process, I kept thinking of those I am hoping to represent and wondering how they are getting tests. Are they paying? People I asked had similar stories to mine, but instead of driving so far, they opted to pay $50 at a local urgent care that returned the results in two days.
I have multiple concerns. Foremost, not everyone can afford $50, much less $110, and secondly, not everyone has a car. What does someone do who can’t drive outside of the community to get tested?
Today I Googled, “Memorial Healthcare CEO” and got “Brian Long” and I asked, “Why isn’t Memorial offering FREE COVID testing to the community?” After several redirects and long holds, his administrative assistant said it was a good question and she would try to get back to me with the reason. I am still waiting for the call back…
Andrea Kelly Garrison, Owosso