As COVID eases, Montgomery Co. to roll out drop-off PCR testing, freeing up recreation centers

Montgomery County, Maryland, will roll out a drop-off COVID-19 PCR testing option at several county recreation centers that aims to deliver results in 24 to 48 hours.

The tests, whose results are analyzed in a lab, are designed to maintain PCR testing — which is often required for travel — in the county and free up space at county recreation centers, which are more fully reopening two years after the start of the pandemic.

The six recreation sites where the drop-off test kits will be offered are Wheaton, Plum Gar, East County, Bauer Drive, North Potomac and the Dennis Avenue Health Center. Details on when the test kits will be available are expected in a news release later Tuesday.

The new testing option, which is being rolled out as a pilot to start, is part of a partnership between the county and 20/20 Gene Systems, a Rockville biotech company.

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard told Montgomery County council members sitting as the board of health during a meeting Tuesday morning that the program is modeled on a nearly identical program offered in D.C. for the past year, in which residents can pick up and drop off test kits at libraries throughout the District.

“As we move through the summer,” Stoddard said, “people are going to still want to have to have access to testing. We will make it easier and easier … But also, people need those PCR tests for certain travel — plane rides and things like that. We want to make sure that those are available to them.”

Residents must register the test kits online and deposit them in drop-off boxes at the various sites before they close for the day. Stoddard told council members the labs will work overnight to more quickly deliver test results.

Officials debuted the plan for retooled PCR testing as the county seeks to transition to the “next normal” as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

The council held its first in-person meeting in nearly two years — replacing the Zoom hearings that had become commonplace. The meeting was livestreamed. Officials who spoke and most council members appeared without masks. The county lifted its indoor mask mandate in public places last month.

Coronavirus cases have fallen dramatically from an surge driven by the more infectious omicron variant earlier this winter.

Officials with Montgomery County Public Schools said they have not received any reports of bullying related to mask-wearing since the board of education voted to lift a mask mandate for students and staff last week.


More Coronavirus News

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.


Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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