LAUREL, Md (WMAR) — 10 more hospital-based COVID testing sites will be open within a week. Gov. Larry Hogan made the announcement Thursday outside UM Laurel Medical Center, where one will be opening soon.
The goal is to help alleviate the burden on hospital systems, who are not only dealing with increases in COVID patients, but also people using ERs to get tested.
“Our hospitals in the state of Maryland are under incredible stress,” said Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of University of Maryland Medical System. “The burden that it is placing on our emergency rooms and on our workforce is a disproportionate burden to now, not just taking care of the patients who are coming to us with other health care needs but now, those people who are coming in search of testing.”
In addition to the Laurel Medical Center in our area, sites include Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and Northwest Hospital in Randallstown. Recently mobilized national guard members will help staff them. They will all be open seven days a week with no appointment necessary.
Hogan said these sites have already proven to work.
“University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health in Bel Air, for example, has already seen a 72 percent drop in emergency room visits since we set up the testing site there,” said Hogan.
Hogan also announced that FEMA is helping to set up and staff a testing site at St. Agnes hospital in Baltimore.
Across the state, testing lines have been shorter, but Hogan believes the demand is still there with 46,000 tests being done a day.
“We’re making progress. We’ve opened up a couple now already and with the additional 10 sites by the end of next week and another 10 after that, hopefully it’s going to make a difference,” said Hogan.
Hogan said they have an unlimited supply of PCR tests, are in the process of distributing a million rapid tests and hope to get another half million more next week. Dr. Suntha recommends testing for anyone who has been exposed or who has any cold or flu like symptoms.