Gov. Larry Hogan announced today that Maryland will open a new coronavirus testing site at Six Flags America on Friday. Screengrab via Google Street View.

Maryland will open a new drive-through coronavirus testing site at Six Flags America in Prince George’s County on Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced today.

People do not need a doctor’s order or appointment to be tested at the Six Flags location in Bowie, and there will be no out-of-pocket cost to patients.

The new testing site is part of the state’s continued efforts to expand COVID-19 testing throughout the state, Hogan said.

“There are now more COVID-19 testing options for Maryland residents than ever,” he said. “Using our expanded capacity and supplies, we continue to increase testing options by opening new sites and enhancing capacity at existing testing locations.”

Maryland has conducted at least 262,055 coronavirus tests to date and 48,423 of those tests, about 18 percent, came back positive, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Case Map Dashboard.

But several local executives have said there hasn’t been enough testing to begin easing coronavirus-related restrictions.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young blamed state officials for the lack of tests in Baltimore.

“To date, the state has failed to provide local jurisdictions, including Baltimore City, with the testing resources we need to be able to safely reopen,” he said at the time.

Baltimore City remains under a stay-at-home order, but starting today retail businesses are allowed to do curbside pickup. Young has said the city needs to conduct between 2,700 to 2,800 tests per day, according to guidance from the World Health Organization.

After Gov. Larry Hogan announced two weeks ago that Maryland was ready to start the first stage of the state’s recovery plan, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman tweeted that his county’s testing capability was “growing slowly, but much too slowly.”

Since then, Pittman has announced that barber shops, beauty salons and other non-essential retail businesses will be allowed to reopen starting June 1.

Meanwhile, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has said that her county is preparing for a “modified phase one reopening by June 1.”

Until then, Prince George’s County is under its local stay-at-home order.

Prince George’s County has consistently had the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases out of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, with the county recording a total of 14,100 cases as of Wednesday morning, according to state data.

Prince George’s County also has the second largest number of coronavirus-related deaths in Maryland with 496 residents having died due to COVID-19, only behind Montgomery County, which has had 535 residents die to COVID-19.

Prince George’s County residents represent at least 29 percent of the Maryland’s confirmed coronavirus cases and 22 percent of the state’s deaths due to COVID-19.

The Six Flags theme park is one of two COVID-19 testing sites opening this week in Prince George’s County. The other testing site will be located at the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) station in Clinton and will open on Thursday.

With the new testing sites at Six Flags and the Clinton VEIP station, the state will have 11 drive-through, community-based testing sites. Those other sites include the Carroll County Agriculture Center, and VEIP stations in Bel Air (Harford County), Columbia (Howard County), Glen Burnie (Anne Arundel County), Hagerstown (Washington County), Owings Mills (Baltimore County), Prince Frederick (Calvert County), Waldorf (Charles County), and White Oak (Montgomery County).

Prince George’s County opened one of the first drive-through testing sites in the state at FedEx Field in Landover.

The Maryland Department of Health has also created a map of testing sites across the state, including locations run by local jurisdictions.

On that page, state officials wrote that the VEIP testing site in Hyattesville “is not in operation this week” and people can be tested at the Six Flags location starting Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Alsobrooks tweeted today that the state had not notified local government leaders in her county of the testing site’s closure.

“We regret so many of our residents were inconvenienced by this unexpected closing,” Alsobrooks wrote.

A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Health said Maryland is adding testing facilities at locations that are convenient to people in ZIP codes with high case numbers.

“Given the high demand for the Hyattsville site, where we had a record day of testing on Friday, the state opened a new site at Six Flags America so more Marylanders can get tested … There are enough tests to meet the demand of the new COVID-19 sites in Prince George’s County,” the spokesperson said.

COVID-19 testing at Six Flags America is available on Friday, May 29 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and by appointment at the VEIP station in Clinton.

The state’s other VEIP sites are open, but they are only seeing patients with appointments this week, state officials wrote on the map page.

Prince George’s County also has testing sites at the Prince George’s County Health Department’s Cheverly Health Center in Bladensburg; Kaiser Permanente Largo Medical Center in Upper Marlboro; MedStar Health locations Hyattsville and Leonardtown; CVS pharmacies in New Carrollton, Capital Heights and Upper Marlboro; and the Patient First in Beltsville.

Last week, Hogan also announced the state has partnered with CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart to offer coronavirus testing at their certain locations.

Individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for testing can schedule a drive-up or drive-through appointment at those businesses.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...