CHEBOYGAN COUNTY — During his update to the Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners on April 28, Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale Clarmont alerted the commissioners to a new drive-through coronavirus testing facility at the fairgrounds.


"With our office of emergency management, this week, we have set up and started the drive-through testing," said Clarmont. "It is a partnership with Alcona Health, McLaren, District Health Department Four, our office of emergency management, the sheriff's department and our local fire departments."


The testing at the Cheboygan County Fairgrounds was started on Monday, April 27. It was scheduled to be open the first week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a soft start. Starting the week of May 4, the testing site will be open Monday through Friday.


"The first individual went through yesterday and everything worked as advertised," said Clarmont. "It is working very well, thanks to all those entities, to include the county fairgrounds."


Cheboygan County Fair Manager Dan O'Henley opened up the fair offices, to allow the entities having the drive-through testing site to have space to coordinate everything, and allowed the testing to be at the site. Also, the way it is set up, it is very easy for people to drive in, get tested and pull out of the facility safely.


The testing is done by appointment only and those who are asking to be tested must have a referral or lab order from their primary care physician to get tested.


The local office of emergency management and the entities who are having the drive-through testing are hoping to continue to offer this testing site for as long as it is needed in the area.


Clarmont also offered an update on the local office of emergency management and how well things are going with the receiving and disbursing of personal protection equipment.


"The greatest demand we've had here in the county is for personal protection equipment or PPE," said Clarmont. "To date, we distributed 82,259 items of personal protection equipment. That includes everything from hand sanitizer to surgical gowns, masks, N-95 masks, surgical masks, goggles and face shields."


The sheriff's department office of emergency management had been asked in the middle of April by the Michigan State Police District Seven Office of Emergency Management to consider being a distribution center for the personal protection equipment for the Tip of the Mitt region. This would include Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet and Otsego counties that would receive the equipment from the Cheboygan County office.


"We took on that responsibility on April 22 and started last Wednesday," said Clarmont. "To date, we have received 45,248 items of personal protection equipment. We have distributed to those entities 39,663 items."


Clarmont said they are at the point right now where all of the entities within Cheboygan County, including the adult foster care homes, assisted living facilities, Hospice House and first responders, have a full 30-day supply of the protection equipment.


"Now, because of the influx of continued great work that our office of emergency management is doing, we're actually at a point where we're asking those entities to now look at maybe a 60-day supply," said Clarmont. "Let us know and we will continue to try to fill that. If we can get a 60-day supply on hand for each of these entities, I believe that's a huge step forward, also including these drive-through testing facilities. That's a huge step."