The following was in a press release from Governor Larry Hogan:
Statewide Goal of Testing 10% of Population In All Jurisdictions
State Continues to Make Large Quantities of Testing Supplies Directly Available to Local Health Departments
Baltimore City Leads Large Jurisdictions With 8.5% of Population Tested
Testing Volume by Jurisdiction Data Will Be Posted on Coronavirus.Maryland.Gov
Maryland Department of Health (MDH) officials today urged county leaders to step up local COVID-19 testing efforts and meet the goal of testing 10% of their populations.
The appeal comes in a letter from MDH Secretary Robert Neall and Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips, who write: “As part of our COVID-19 testing expansion, Maryland continues to make large quantities of specimen collection kits directly available to local health departments. Given that the state has a long-term strategic supply of tests, there is no need to stockpile these resources or turn away our allocations. Instead, we ask that your local health departments use these tests to increase the number and capacity of community-based testing sites. We urge you to make every effort and come up with innovative ways to provide your residents and businesses with open and convenient access to testing.” Read the letter here.
The state will soon begin publishing testing volume data by jurisdiction on coronavirus.maryland.gov so that Marylanders can track local progress. To date, Maryland has tested 7.4% of its population. Baltimore City leads large jurisdictions and is above the state average with 8.5% of its population tested.
“Widespread testing is critical to saving lives and safely reopening more and more of our economy, which is why state health officials are setting a goal of testing 10% of the population in all of our 24 jurisdictions,” said Governor Hogan. “The State of Maryland will continue to have an abundant supply of testing available at no out-of-pocket cost to anyone in our state who needs to be tested, and we are looking to our county leaders to do their part by expanding testing efforts at the local level.”
This is the latest in a series of steps state officials have taken in recent weeks to expand access to COVID-19 testing, including:
- Broadening criteria for testing to include those who are asymptomatic
- Making appointment-free testing available at high-volume community-based sites
- Agreements with CVS Health, Rite Aid, and Walmart for new drive-thru locations
- Authorizing the state’s nearly 1,200 pharmacies to administer tests
- Directly allocating test kits and supplies to local jurisdictions
- Producing viral transport media at the state’s Public Health Laboratory
- Opening a signature, state-of-the-art lab in partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore to serve as the backbone of the state’s sustained testing strategy
There are now nearly 170 major COVID-19 testing sites available in Maryland. Visit coronavirus.maryland.gov to find a location that is most convenient for you.
Howard County is behind in testing compared to some of the other local jurisdictions noted in the press release.
If you look at our neighboring counties Howard County trails Prince George’s (8.1%), Baltimore (7.9%) and Montgomery (7.3%). Howard (6.9%) currently is ahead of Carroll (6.7%) and Anne Arundel (5.9%). The other county that I am watching closely is Frederick (8.1%) due to how close their number of COVID-19 cases is to Howard County (Howard 2,348 and Frederick 2,342 as of June 18th per the state of Maryland).
Howard County has increased testing over the past month and now shows that data on their COVID-19 dashboard:
This will be a new tracking item for the blog to watch going forward.