Today, County Executive Calvin Ball announced two innovative private partnerships to improve diagnostic testing and antibody research in Howard County. Photos of the announcement can be found here. Video can be found here.
The County and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL) have entered a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to collaborate in the analysis and understanding of infectious diseases and the use of emerging technologies in treatment and prevention. Johns Hopkins APL will serve as a technical advisor to review technologies and make recommendations to the County on the efficacy of those technologies in addressing infectious diseases. The first priorities will be to determine the efficacy of serology testing and the use of air filtration systems that use high–intensity UV lighting to kill or neutralize bacteria and virus particles. Additionally, Howard County is partnering with Quality First Urgent Care to operate a diagnostic drive-through testing site at Savage Volunteer Fire Department Monday – Saturday. This partnership allows increased access to testing for residents in the surrounding area, which has seen one of the higher case rates per population.
“Howard County has tested 9% of our population, but our new goal is to reach at least 10%. Our partnership with Quality First Urgent Care allows us to deploy more accessible testing to Howard County residents, who will not need an appointment or doctor’s orders,” said Ball. “We’re also looking forward to our partnership with Johns Hopkins APL, an organization that consistently leads with innovation. As we prepare our residents and business community for the length of this pandemic, this collaboration will help to identify emerging technologies that will better position Howard County to combat COVID-19.”
Johns Hopkins APL Partnership
Howard County and Johns Hopkins APL’s MOA will govern the collaborative programs on the analysis and understanding of infectious diseases and the use of emerging technologies in treatment and prevention. APL will make recommendations to the County on options offered by emerging technologies and how they may be used to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases.
The County will collaborate with APL to engage in disease surveillance and to use recommendations provided by the Laboratory to make emerging technologies available to the community. The County will leverage existing testing sites to make serology testing available to identified or targeted populations.
“We are pleased to once again collaborate with Howard County, where so many of our staff members live and work,” said APL Director Ralph Semmel. “Our staff are learning more about the best ways to fight COVID-19 every day. This partnership provides an opportunity to harness relevant data to develop useful technologies for that fight and support the county’s response to the global pandemic.”
Quality First Urgent Care Partnership
Quality First Urgent Care operated by Dr. Pascal Crosley, will be running the Savage Volunteer Fire Department test site. The drive through testing will run from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Saturday. The site will have scheduled appointments available, but they are not required.
“This appears to be the most accessible site in terms of days and hours of operation, the option of appointments or no appointments, no doctor’s orders or insurance needed, frankly it checks all the boxes,” said Susan Garber of the Savage Community Association. “It’s particularly important, not just for those in the dense residential developments along the corridor, but also for the many who work here, particularly in food support.”
The site will also be conducting outreach to vulnerable groups and offering translation services as well.
“We are honored to be partnering with Howard County to deliver safe and efficient Covid-19 testing for the residents of Howard County and surrounding areas at the Savage Fire Station location,” said Dr. Pascal Crosley, Owner and Medical Director of Quality First Urgent Care. “With infection rates increasing across the country, testing, vigilance, social distancing, hand washing, and personal hygiene will continue to be paramount to controlling Covid-19 infection rates in our county.”
“This new site at Savage allows for expanded testing in Howard County,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “We encourage anyone who believes that they should be tested, whether because of being in a larger gathering or just to be able to protect those around them who may be at higher risk. With testing, we can identify those who have the virus and help control the spread of COVID-19.”
“Howard County Fire and Rescue is very proud to be a part of this COVID-19 testing site and bringing it closer to the community,” said Deputy Chief John Jerome. “We encourage residents to use this site and please know, our department values this level of integration because we want to be there when our community needs us.”
Here is the video from the event: