Photo by Wally Gobetz, via Flickr

In an effort to expand testing for COVID-19, Baltimore has launched mobile sites in the Brooklyn, Cherry Hill and Highlandtown neighborhoods, city officials announced today.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said those areas were chosen based on ZIP code data and testing needs.

Unlike the sites operated by the city at Pimlico Race Course, Druid Hill Park and Clifton Park, no doctor’s referral is needed to receive a test. They’ll be administered first come, first served while supplies last.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said 150 tests were administered in Brooklyn and Cherry Hill in South Baltimore on Tuesday and Thursday. Family Health Centers of Baltimore helped start those locations.

The Highlandtown site, with help from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, launched today in Southeast Baltimore. The mayor said he visited today and saw everyone was social distancing.

“So people are paying attention and they are doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said.

But Young and Dzirasa stressed that the city’s testing ability is still not adequate, one of the main reasons officials decided to extend Baltimore’s stay-at-home order while other parts of the state reopen this afternoon.

They reiterated that the state has not supplied Baltimore with enough tests. Dzirasa said the city should be able to conduct 2,700 to 2,800 tests per day to be in line with guidelines from health experts. At the moment, Baltimore is averaging 571 per day.

“I’m hoping the state will step up and help with our testing capacity at some point,” Young said. “But the simple truth is that right now, today, we need more tests to safely reopen.”

The city needs to see decreases in new cases and deaths, both of which are still going up, Young said.

Dzirasa said officials hope to launch additional mobile clinics as supplies become available.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the department will respond to all calls about non-compliance with the stay-at-home order. He said police will consult the Law Department to “determine the appropriate violation and take the appropriate enforcement action at the appropriate time.”

For now, police are asking citizens and businesses for “voluntary compliance,” he said.

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Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...