Hogan says 10 new hospital-based COVID testing sites to open in Maryland

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that 10 hospital-based COVID-19 testing sites will be fully operational by the end of next week, with 10 more to open after that as part of a larger effort to increase coronavirus testing throughout the state.

The goal, the governor said, is to keep people from going to crowded emergency rooms to get a test.

Hogan spoke at the University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center, which will serve as one of the 10 soon-to-be-opened sites. Another testing site will also launch in partnership with the federal government at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide staffing support.

They will join two hospital-based testing sites that opened last week: the University of Maryland Chesapeake Medical Center and the Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center.

All sites will be open daily to walk-ups, with no appointment necessary.

“We’re making progress,” Hogan said. “We’ve opened up a couple now already, and with the additional 10 sites by the end of next week and another 10 after that, hopefully it’s going to make a difference.”

Hogan said he’s already noticed a “dramatic difference” at the Chesapeake Medical Center, which has reported a 72% drop in emergency room visits since the outside testing site was set up.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

“We don’t need to go to an emergency room to get a test,” Hogan stressed. “There’s people really sick that are coming to the emergency rooms that our health care heroes need to take care of.”

Hogan said Maryland has “an abundant supply” of PCR tests.

“In addition, we’re in the process of distributing 1 million at-home rapid tests through local health departments, and we’re finalizing numerous additional emergency procurements to acquire as many more rapid tests as we possibly can from multiple sources,” he said, noting that Maryland is on track to receive another 500,000 at-home rapid tests in the next week.

The surge in demand for testing has been largely driven by the rapid spread of the omicron variant. Hogan said omicron now accounts for 90% of lab-confirmed COVID cases and 90% of COVID hospitalizations in the state.

Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System, said hospitals are seeing a sharp rise in patients because of the omicron variant — “stress that is borne by our front-line health care workforce.”

“Across our health system at the University of Maryland Medical System, a month ago, we had 200 patients with COVID-19. Today, that number stands at 800,” Suntha said.

He said that 75% of the patients who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, while less than 5% of patients are vaccinated and boosted.

“So an important message in helping support our health care workforce is to be vaccinated and to be boosted because the data I just gave you are facts.”

Suntha said that includes children, who are now eligible to be vaccinated, noting that the state has also seen a rise in the hospitalization of children with COVID.

Hogan said he’s “excited” that 12- to 17-year-olds now qualify for booster shots. He said that while Maryland is one of the most vaccinated states in the country, with 92% of its residents vaccinated, his administration will continue hammering home the message that people need to get vaccinated and boosted.

“Although it’s a small number of people here in our state — 8% of the people who have refused to get the vaccine — we just still encourage you to do it,” Hogan said, pointing out that “less than 8% of the people are responsible for 75% of the hospitalizations and deaths. I mean, I don’t know how much clearer to make it to you — the vaccines and boosters work.”

Anna Gawel

Anna Gawel joined WTOP in 2020 and works in both the radio and digital departments. Anna Gawel has spent much of her career as the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, which has been the flagship publication of D.C.’s diplomatic community for over 25 years.

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