Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said Tuesday that the state now has the capacity and supplies to offer testing for free to Marylanders who may have been exposed to COVID-19 — even if they do not exhibit any symptoms.
Beginning Thursday, testing sites across the state will be open to walk-ins — and they won’t need a doctor’s note recommending a COVID-19 test.
In a news release, the Hogan administration said it “has reached a critical milestone in its long-term COVID-19 testing strategy,” completing more than 200,000 tests representing about 3.5% of the state’s population.
Hogan has also issued an emergency order authorizing the state’s licensed pharmacists to directly order and administer COVID-19 tests. The order coincides with new federal guidelines expanding options to pay for pharmacists to offer COVID-19 tests for Medicare beneficiaries.
“Beginning this week, we are able to offer appointment-free COVID-19 testing across the state, including for those who do not have symptoms, marking a critical milestone in Maryland’s long-term testing strategy,” Hogan said in a statement. “This will help doctors diagnose and treat new cases more quickly, and it will further increase the safety of our state for all citizens.”
In Prince George’s County, where the highest number of reported COVID-19 cases are in Maryland, the county Health Department has been running a testing clinic in the parking lot of the Prince George’s Medical Center in Cheverly. The state is now adding community-based testing sites at VEIP stations in Clinton and Hyattsville.
Drive-thru, appointment-free testing will be available beginning on Thursday at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County and continue on Friday at the Glen Burnie VEIP site in Anne Arundel County, as well as the Hyattsville VEIP station. Testing will become available at the Clinton VEIP site next week. People who suspect that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, even if they are not yet symptomatic, can access a test at one of these sites without a prior doctor’s order or a scheduled appointment. Testing will be provided at no out-of-pocket cost.
State officials say the expanded testing capacity in the state builds on testing efforts that began in late April at nursing homes and poultry plants, as well as for frontline health care workers and first responders at state facilities. Political leaders and public health experts have called adequate testing a critical component for governments to contemplate relaxing state-at-home orders and shutdowns of local economies.
More information on COVID-19 testing in Maryland is available at https://coronavirus.maryland.
Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.