GLEN BURNIE, Md (WMAR) — Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced new steps to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with a stay at home order, several drive-thru testing sites will open across the state.
"We have reached a critical turning point," said Hogan. "Marylanders need to know that unfortunately we are only at the beginning of this crisis and it is going to get considerably worse before it gets better."
The new testing sites aim to stop the spread of the virus. With the number of cases and deaths on the rise, these sites will focus on at-risk patients, keeping them out of crowded emergency rooms and doctors offices to get them tested.
"We don’t want to waste these tests. We want to test when it’s really important to the individual and to the contract tracing that we’re doing in order to stop this spread," said Deputy Secretary of Health Fran Phillips.
In coordination with lots of state agencies, three Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspection stations will not serve as drive-thru testing stations beginning Wednesday. Their locations are in Glen Burnie, Bel Air and Waldorf. In addition, a screening and testing site is also opening up at Fedex Field in Prince George's County.
Glen Burnie and Waldorf will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while Bel Air will open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Anne Arundel County Health Department is open on Tuesdays and Thursday from 10 to 4.
But because testing availability is still so limited, there are several guidelines to be eligible for testing at these sites.
"I want to stress that the testing allotment in Maryland and across America is still limited and testing at these sites is strictly limited to those with a referral from their healthcare provider or doctor and how have an appointment to be tested," said Hogan.
"This testing is for people with symptoms and people who are over 65, healthcare workers or first responders, people who live in group homes or people determined by their health care provider to be medically unstable," said Phillips.
Phillips said results are still taking longer than what's ideal. There's a backlog of tests at the labs because of a shortage of the raw ingredients needed to process them.
"The state lab has prioritized for urgently needed testing and that’s for hospitalized patients primarily and in these cluster investigations. Those are the ones that we prioritize our state lab to do that we can turn around in less than 24 hours," said Philliips.
There will be no charge for the test at any of these sites.