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What to know about Maryland’s new coronavirus testing rules

Medical personnel from Montgomery County, Md., check patients arriving for a COVID-19 drive-in testing, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that appointment-free testing would be available at four state-run sites, starting later this week. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Medical personnel from Montgomery County, Md., check patients arriving for a COVID-19 drive-in testing, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that appointment-free testing would be available at four state-run sites, starting later this week. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)(Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Gov. Larry Hogan Tuesday announced new rules that mean more Maryland residents can get a coronavirus test — even if they aren’t showing symptoms. Here’s what to know about the new rules.

Who can get a test?

Anyone who thinks they’ve been exposed to coronavirus will be able to seek a test at four of the state-run sites. The tests will be available without a doctor’s order and without an appointment. The state department of health website has additional details.

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Hogan’s order also encourages doctors offering private tests to order them for people without symptoms who have been exposed to the virus.

Where can I get tested?

The appointment-free, drive-thru tests will be available at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium starting Thursday, followed by sites at the Vehicle Emission Inspection Program stations in Glen Burnie and Hyattsville on Friday. Next week the state plans to begin testing at the VEIP station in Clinton.

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Marylanders should prepare for long lines or for possibly getting turned away if VEIP sites reach their daily capacity for testing. Timonium’s site reached capacity Thursday before noon.

The other public testing sites still require a doctor’s order and an appointment.

What about pharmacies?

Hogan’s order also allows pharmacists to administer coronavirus tests. Dr. Richard DeBenedetto, president of the Maryland Pharmacists Association, said availability will vary. Some pharmacies have been stockpiling tests and will be ready to administer them right away, he said, but other pharmacies will need to purchase tests first.

CVS drugstores will also offer drive-thru testing for the coronavirus in Maryland starting Friday. The company is setting up 17 locations across the state, including five in the Baltimore region. Appointments are required, and patients must meet the Centers for Disease Control criteria for testing.

How much does the test cost and will my insurance cover it?

There is no out-of-pocket charge for testing at the state-run facilities. Insurance is not required.

Why is expanded testing important?

Public health experts say expanding testing is key to reducing the spread of coronavirus because research suggests that people infected with the virus can spread it before showing any symptoms of infection. Testing people before they show signs of illness makes it more likely those with the virus can be isolated before spreading it to others.

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