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Government & Politics

Hogan Announces Expanded Testing, Mask Distribution, New Nursing Home Policies

A medical professional prepares to screen people at a COVID-19 testing station in the parking lot of FedEx Field in Landover in March 2020. Demand for testing has increased in recent weeks as novel coronavirus cases surged. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

By Zeke Hartner

Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced that the state would be opening six additional hospital-based COVID-19 testing sites in the near future to help avoid overcrowding in hospitals and emergency rooms.

Last week, Hogan announced the launch of 10 hospital-based COVID-19 testing sites, which are now fully operational.

Speaking Thursday at an in-progress hospital testing site at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center, Hogan said that those 10 sites had already proven to be effective at reducing wait times in hospitals.

He said the six new sites will be located at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional, Garrett Regional Medical Center, Holy Cross General Hospital, Baltimore Washington Medical Center and UM Shore Medical Center.

“Our team is working around the clock to launch these sites in the coming days,” Hogan said. “They are all expected to be fully operational by the end of next week.”

New nursing home COVID testing policies

Around 70% of Maryland nursing homes have reported positive COVID-19 cases among staff and residents. In response to these high rates, Hogan announced that the Maryland Department of Health has ordered staff and vendors to get tested twice a week while community transmission is high. Visitors will also have to show proof of a negative test before entering a nursing facility.

“While we want people to continue to be able to visit their loved ones, we will do everything in our power to ensure that they can do so safely,” Hogan said.

Hogan also announced Thursday that the National Guard would be delivering courses of the antiviral medication Remdesivir to Maryland pharmacies that serve nursing homes.

Millions of masks on the way

Hogan also announced Thursday that MDH will begin distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks —which provide additional infection protection compared to cloth masks — next week. The masks will be distributed at local health departments, all state-run testing and vaccination sites, to nursing homes and by the Vaccine Equity Task Force.

Hogan said masks would also be distributed to all state agencies for their employees.

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP Radio, we feature this article from Zeke Hartner. Click here for the WTOP News website.


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Hogan Announces Expanded Testing, Mask Distribution, New Nursing Home Policies