Governor Hogan Announces Critical Milestone in COVID-19 Testing Strategy as State Broadens Criteria for Testing, Dramatically Expands Testing Availability Statewide

Maryland Expands Testing Criteria To Include Those Who Are Asymptomatic Appointment-Free Testing in Maryland Begins Thursday; Two New VEIP Testing Sites to Open in Prince George’s County Emergency Order Authorizes All of Maryland’s Licensed Pharmacists to Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests Maryland Has Tested 3.5 Percent of State’s Population, Far Exceeding Goals Established By Federal Health Officials

Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the state has reached a critical milestone in its long-term COVID-19 testing strategy, surpassing 200,000 tests and completing testing of 3.5 percent of the state’s population, and now has the capacity and supplies to offer testing to Marylanders who may have been exposed to the disease even if they do not have symptoms.

With this progress, Governor Hogan has directed the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to make appointment-free COVID-19 testing available at community-based testing sites throughout the state. As part of this increased capacity, the state is establishing two new VEIP testing sites in Prince George’s County.

In addition, Governor Hogan has issued an emergency order authorizing the state’s hundreds of licensed pharmacists to directly order and administer COVID-19 tests.

“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,” said Governor Hogan. “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 addition, we are authorizing and actively encouraging the state’s hundreds of pharmacies to directly order and administer COVID-19 tests, another way we can make testing more widely available in our communities.”

TWO NEW VEIP SITES IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY: In March, state officials established Maryland’s first mass COVID-19 testing site at FedEx Field in Landover, which evolved to the Prince George’s County Health Department clinic in Cheverly. To further build on these efforts, the state is adding community-based testing sites at VEIP stations in Clinton and Hyattsville.

APPOINTMENT-FREE TESTING BEGINS THURSDAY: Drive-thru, appointment-free testing will be available beginning on Thursday, May 21, at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County and continue on Friday, May 22, at the Glen Burnie VEIP site in Anne Arundel County, as well as the Hyattsville VEIP station in Prince George’s County. 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.

AUTHORIZING PHARMACISTS TO ORDER AND ADMINISTER COVID-19 TESTS: Governor Hogan has issued an emergency order authorizing the state’s pharmacists to directly order COVID-19 tests. Additionally, the order authorizes pharmacies to collect specimens for COVID-19 tests onsite, provided that it is carried out safely by qualified personnel in accordance with all CDC guidance. Pharmacists must adhere to all test result reporting requirements. This order coincides with new federal guidelines expanding options to pay for pharmacists to offer COVID-19 tests for Medicare beneficiaries. Read the governor’s order.

LONG-TERM TESTING STRATEGY: As of today, Maryland has conducted 208,658 COVID-19 tests, which comprises 3.5 percent of the state’s population. Over the last month, the state has conducted 140,767 COVID-19 tests, double the previous period. On April 29, Governor Hogan announced that the state would focus additional testing resources on high-priority outbreaks and clusters, including nursing homes and poultry plants, as well as frontline health care workers and first responders at state facilities. With those efforts now in full swing, the state continues to expand the availability of testing  to Marylanders.

For more information on COVID-19 testing in Maryland, please visit https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/symptoms-testing.

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This is great news.

Anyone else feel like the administration is reading my blog as I wrote the following article early this morning “Maryland ranks in the top 10 for COVID-19 cases and deaths, trails many states in testing” and then this announcement is made this afternoon. Hmm. LOL…just kidding…I know no Hogan staff member is reading this local blog.

Scott E