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Prince George’s patients must have symptoms to get second county COVID test free

The Prince George’s County Health Department will turn away some patients seeking a second free COVID-19 test, saying patients are only guaranteed a second test under certain circumstances.

A second test will be provided without charge if a patient has symptoms of the disease caused by the coronavirus, has a known or suspected exposure to a positive case or if a contact tracer recommended getting tested.

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“Beyond that, the Health Department’s on-site registered nurses consider other requests for retests on a case-by-case basis,” Health Officer Ernest Carter said in a statement. “The Health Department must be mindful of its testing supply on a daily basis; the County operates and supplies testing equipment to as many as seven testing sites each week that are free to the public regardless of insurance and do not require appointments.”

Prince George’s County is the second-largest jurisdiction in the state, with more than 900,000 residents and has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Over a five-month period, more than 23,700 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the county, 3,452 people have been hospitalized and 744 have died.

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During the last week of July, 16,867 tests were administered in the county, 5.8% of which were positive, according to the department website.

“The Health Department regularly retrains its ever-shifting number of available clinical staff and volunteer test site workers about the latest testing and operations guidance, which like this pandemic, has changed shape and size many times,” he wrote.

People who have experienced something they don’t understand or are concerned about at a testing site can call 311 or email covid-19@co.pg.md.us, Carter said.

In neighboring Anne Arundel County, the fifth jurisdiction largest in the state, Health Department spokesperson Elin Jones said county residents can get more than one free COVID-19 test without having symptoms. She said the county has offered testing to those without symptoms since May.

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