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Baltimore County to offer coronavirus tests at all sites without doctor’s order

Baltimore County residents seeking to get tested for the coronavirus no longer need to secure a doctor’s order first, officials announced Friday.

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch issued a standing order that allows all those looking to get swabbed to do so without having to contact a primary care physician, which could be a barrier for many residents without health care and could make the process more efficient.

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In a statement, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said the removal of this step will help the district reopen its economy.

“Allowing any County resident to receive a test, regardless of whether they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, is another important step forward,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “We continue working around the clock to put measures in place that to reduce the spread of the virus and help get Baltimore County back to work.”

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Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has identified the state’s testing capacity as a crucial component of the state’s roadmap to recovery. In recent weeks the state has expanded testing to all nursing home residents and staffers, all detainees and correctional officers inside juvenile detention centers and residents who wish to get tested but do not have symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Still, test kits has proved difficult to come by in Maryland, which has the second highest percentage of positive tests out of 52 U.S. states and territories, behind only Puerto Rico. Earlier this week, the first appointment-free drive-thru testing site opened at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, but reached capacity within an hour.

Baltimore County has the third highest number of infections out of all 24 Maryland counties, with 5,170 confirmed cases. It follows Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, which account for about half of the state’s 44,424 positive results.

Instead of connecting with a doctor first, Baltimore County residents looking to get tested must call the COVID-19 hotline at 410-887-3816, where they will receive instructions for scheduling an appointment.

The hotline is available to take calls from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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