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State adds rapid COVID testing at Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport and Michigan welcome centers

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Noelle Riley/IPR
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When flight passengers travel through Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City they will be offered a free COVID-19 test, with results texted to their phones within minutes.

The rapid antigen tests are available through a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services program that aims to encourage more people to get tested by making it convenient.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist with the state health department, says there’s been a drop off in testing interest across the state. 

 

“What we are focusing on is to really get testing into areas where people are already moving, where people are already going, and to try to make testing part of the day-to-day activity of Michigan residents,” she says.

The state wants to start by regularly testing travelers, since they tend to be more lax with precautions, according to Bagdasarian.

“If we can couple testing with any of those higher risk activities where you may be around more people, where you’re in an indoor space with them, it could make those activities safer,” she says.

 

The rapid tests will support the safe return of visitors to the resort areas this summer, Cherry Capital Airport Director Kevin Klein says. 

And the timing for the testing works great for “snowbirds” who are returning to their homes Up North.

 

“Knowing that as they are going into the community that they’ve had a negative test or do they need to quarantine? They’ll have that peace of mind to know the direction of which they should take,” he says.

 

The rapid tests are not as accurate as PCR tests, but state epidemiologists say the rapid tests can help catch asymptomatic cases. Any positive tests will also be sent to the state lab to check for variants.

Besides the airport, testing is also available at welcome centers in Petersburg and Monroe, with more sites to open this summer.

Testing at the airport will be offered Wednesdays between 2 and 7 p.m., Fridays noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays 3 to 11 p.m.