Maryland has increased its testing capacity for the novel coronavirus and is now able to offer testing to asymptomatic residents, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday.
As the state expands its testing abilities and broadens testing criteria, it has seen a jump in confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,784 new cases reported Tuesday.
Overall, Hogan’s office said the state, as of Tuesday, has conducted 208,658 COVID-19 tests, which is about 3.5% of Maryland’s population.
The governor is also directing the Maryland Department of Health to make COVID-19 testing available without an appointment at community-based testing sites throughout the state.
Appointment-free, drive-through testing kicks off Thursday at Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County.
Prince George’s County will get two new testing sites at Vehicle Emission Inspection Program stations in Clinton and Hyattsville. The Hyattsville VEIP station will have appointment-free testing available starting Friday, and the Clinton VEIP station will have that service starting next week.
The Glen Burnie VEIP station in Anne Arundel County will have appointment-free testing starting Friday.
“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 Tuesday. “This will help doctors diagnose and treat new cases more quickly, and it will further increase the safety of our state for all citizens.”
Those who can get tested include people who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms. They do not need to schedule an appointment or see a primary care physician first. The tests are also free.
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Hogan also issued an emergency order that allows for hundreds of licensed pharmacists across the state to directly order and administer tests. Pharmacists must also follow requirements to reporting testing results.
Teen’s death linked to COVID-19
A 15-year-old in Baltimore County, Maryland, has died after contracting COVID-19, becoming the first coronavirus patient under age 18 in the state to die since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The teen was showing symptoms of an inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 that has also been seen in children in New York, according to a statement from Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski.
“Any loss of life from this virus is tragic, but the loss of a child is devastating,” Olszewksi said in a statement. “This is a stark reminder that this virus spares no one and that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to stay home, socially distance, and limit the spread of this deadly disease.
The statement did not provide any further details on the teen’s death.
The inflammatory condition, which is similar to a condition called Kawasaki syndrome, has been seen in at least five states, including New York, where there have been 100 reported cases, according to the CDC.
Last week, Children’s National Hospital in D.C. reported three cases of the inflammatory condition in pediatric patients there.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is real, it is here, and it is lethal,” said Dr. Gregory Branch, the county’s health officer. “Our children and our most vulnerable residents need all of us to do our part to safeguard them from this unrelenting adversary.”
Overall, there have been more than 41,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland and more than 1,900 deaths. Baltimore County has reported the third-highest number of cases and deaths in the state.
Of the total coronavirus-related deaths across Maryland, just 88 — or about 4% — have involved patients under the age of 50, according to statewide figures.
Maryland coronavirus cases
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continue to see the highest number of coronavirus cases in Maryland.
As of Tuesday, there are 12,240 cases in Prince George’s County and 424 deaths.
In Montgomery County, there are 8,950 cases and 465 deaths.
Those two counties alone constitute roughly half the cases in the state.
Number of confirmed cases: 41,546 (+1,784)
COVID-19-related and probable deaths: 2,081 (+58)
Currently hospitalized: 1,421 (-26)
Recoveries: 2,868 (+51)
Total number of tests: 208,658 (+7,152)
WTOP’s Teta Alim contributed to this report.