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Beaumont plans to expand drive-thru screening for the coronavirus Monday after launching the curbside program at four hospitalsover the weekend, hospital officials said.

Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak, Dearborn, Farmington Hills and Troy began evaluating patients who drove up in their vehicles on Saturday and Sunday.

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The hospital system plans to increase screening sites Monday to its other locations in Grosse Pointe, Taylor, Trenton and Wayne, said Mark Geary, director of external communications and media relations at Beaumont Health.

Beaumont also issued a new hotline and call center number for questions about the virus, (800) 592-4784, staffed by Beaumont nurses and staff seven days a week.

Hospital officials said not everyone who drives to the hospital will be tested. Patients have to meet specific criteria and have a respiratory illness or be mildly sick. Those who meet the criteria may be tested.

Over the weekend, several hundred people drove up to be screened, Geary said.  "They didn’t send that many specimens out," he said. "Beaumont screened several hundred."

If medical staff determine a patient needs to be tested, a specimen will be collected and sent to a lab for testing. Officials are not processing tests on site.

“We are offering this limited screening option to help reduce the spread of the virus, said Dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont Health’s medical director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, in a statement. "Many people who develop COVID-19 should stay home, drink lots of fluids, rest and take over-the-counter medications, like pain relievers. Please call ahead and talk with your physician or another health care provider before seeking treatment at a hospital or other health care facility.”

Older adults with underlying health concerns or those with a compromised immune system who suspect they might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their physician.

Beaumont officials say most cases can be treated at home without seeking medical help. While currently, there is no vaccine or medication to prevent or cure the virus, according to the World Health Organization, 80% of people who contract COVID-19 recover without requiring hospitalization.

"Many of those who develop COVID-19 can self-treat at home with lots of fluids, rest and over-the-counter medications, like pain relievers," Gilpin said. "Older adults with underlying health concerns or those with a compromised immune system who suspect they might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their doctor."

Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and fatigue.

Michigan's total number of confirmed cases continues to rise, jumping from two on Tuesday to 25 by Friday evening.

The cases appear to have some commonalities, with all but a few involving recent international or domestic travel. The cases also all seem to involve largely middle-age patients who are in isolation at home or in a hospital.

Beaumont has also created a physician-led task force to develop guidelines for recommendations on canceling elective surgeries.

"... Depending on the circumstances, we could start canceling non-essential surgeries beginning Tuesday, March 17," said Beaumont Health President and CEO John Fox. 

“We are also talking with other health systems around the country, exchanging information and working together with them. We are not competitors right now. We are united together in a common national effort,” Fox said.

The COVID-19 hotline is a community resource for timely, accurate information about virus symptoms, at-home treatment and virtual screening for people who are experiencing symptoms. The line is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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