Hogan allows COVID-19 testing without symptoms, appointment; city health department now able to process tests

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Photo by Wally Gobetz, via Flickr

After more than 200,000 Marylanders have been tested for COVID-19, the state is allowing health professionals to test people even if they are not exhibiting symptoms, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday.

Maryland is converting two more Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations into community-based coronavirus testing sites in Clinton and Hyattsville, both in Prince George’s County.

Hogan is also allowing residents to be tested for coronavirus without an appointment at select testing sites on certain dates.

People can participate in drive-through testing without an appointment, beginning on May 21 at the Timonium Fairgrounds (Baltimore County), and continuing on May 22 at Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations in Glen Burnie (Anne Arundel County) and Hyattesville (Prince George’s County).

With 3.5 percent of Marylanders tested for COVID-19 so far, Hogan said the state has reached a “critical milestone” in increasing its long-term testing strategy, and these orders will continue to expand the state’s testing capacity.

“This will help doctors diagnose and treat new cases more quickly, and it will further increase the safety of our state for all citizens,” he said

Hogan has also authorized licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests, which will further expand access to testing, he said.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young on Tuesday said Hogan has committed to provide up to 500 tests per week to Baltimore City.

Baltimore had most recently averaged 571 tests per day, Young said.

Even with Hogan’s commitment, however, the city is far from reaching the 2,700 to 2,800 daily tests that the city should be conducting based on recommendations from the World Health Organization, Young said.

“As you can see, even with this new commitment from the governor, there’s a large disparity between where we are currently and where the CDC guidance is recommending we be at to reopen safely,” he said.

Until the city is able to test more people, Young said Baltimore is not ready to begin easing coronavirus-related restrictions.

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

The Baltimore City Health Department has been certified to process COVID-19 tests in its own lab instead of sending tests to state health officials, which will “expedite this whole process,” Young said.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said the department has partnered with lab vendor Hologic to begin processing the tests.

“This will dramatically increase our testing capacity for COVID-19 right here in Baltimore City,” she said.

Dzirasa added that the city has secured 18,000 COVID-19 test kits for residents, which will be used at the city’s community-based testing sites and expand mobile testing capacity.

Baltimore launched three mobile sites in the Brooklyn, Cherry Hill and Highlandtown neighborhoods last week.

Individuals do not need a doctor’s referral to be tested at the mobile testing sites, unlike at the city’s other testing locations at Pimlico Race Course, Druid Hill Park and Clifton Park.

Marcus Dieterle


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