A coronavirus testing site at Pimlico Race Course could be open by the end of the week, Baltimore officials said Tuesday.
The site, constructed in the race track’s parking lot by the Maryland National Guard, is ready and open, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said, but the city is still awaiting tests, he said.
Letitia Dzirasa, the city’s Health Commissioner, said the Maryland Department of Health is expected to provide tests.
“We’re hoping to launch by the end of this week,” she said.
The race track property, which Young visited during construction, was selected because of its accessibility, Young said last week. Once the tests have arrived, community-based screening will be done, but only for those with orders from a health care provider and an appointment.
Owned by The Stronach Group, the track is home to the historic Preakness Stakes, the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown. This year’s race has been postponed from May because of the pandemic, and has not been rescheduled. Last week, however, the Stronach Group announced that the annual Preakness InfieldFest concert would not be held in 2020 — regardless of when the 145th Preakness race is run.
First confirmed in Baltimore on March 15, the new coronavirus has killed 103 Marylanders and sickened at least another 4,371 as of Tuesday.
The availability of tests in Maryland and across the nation remains limited, but the state has opened several drive-thru testing sites at Motor Vehicle Administration emissions stations in Bel Air, Glen Burnie and Waldorf. Another opened at FedEx Field in Landover.
Charles Svehla, assistant chief of operations for the Baltimore Fire Department and the city’s emergency manager, said Tuesday several other testing sites in Baltimore are being evaluated and could “pop up” in the next “week or so.” Young declined to elaborate on where those sites were.
State protocol calls for testing of hospitalized patients with symptoms, and symptomatic people outside the hospital who are considered high risk, including those in nursing homes, in long-term care facilities or who have underlying health conditions. Medical personnel and first responders with symptoms also are being tested.
Those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to notify their doctor but isolate themselves and self-treat at home unless they start having trouble breathing.