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Gov. Hogan names Carroll County Agriculture Center as new COVID-19 testing site

Carroll County Agriculture Center will host Maryland’s next drive-thru testing site and will be the first state-sponsored, community-based site in the county, according to a news release.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that the state is expanding testing to the Ag Center beginning Thursday, May 14.

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With the addition of the Ag Center, there will be a total of nine drive-thru, community-based testing sites operated by the Maryland Department of Health. The others are converted vehicle emissions inspection stations in Bel Air, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Hagerstown, Owings Mills, Prince Frederick, Waldorf and White Oak.

“Expanding testing capacity is one of the critical building blocks of our recovery plan,” Hogan said in the release. “Drive-thru testing provides an easily accessible option for many citizens, and we now have the resources to continue to expand these sites throughout the state. I am pleased to see this model being used in a facility like the Carroll County Ag Center because it represents the expansion of our community-based testing program to new locations with new testing models.”

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Hogan’s administration has said it is focusing on high-priority outbreaks, including among nursing homes, health care workers and first responders. Community-based testing sites have been part of that strategy.

Tests will be offered by appointment only to Maryland residents who show symptoms of COVID-19, according to the release. Patients must have an order from a health care provider and an appointment.

To schedule an appointment at a state testing site, people should first call a health care provider, who can order and schedule a test using the state’s health information exchange — patients cannot order tests for themselves.

Anyone concerned about coronavirus symptoms can call the Carroll County Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline, which is available 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. seven days a week at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211.

“We’re extremely grateful for the cooperation of the Carroll County Agriculture Center, a local non-profit that hosts many wonderful events,” Stephen Wantz, president of the Board of County Commissioners, said in a county news release. “Our local partners continue to work together to protect our community by reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

Carroll Hospital is also offering drive-up testing, for individuals who have been screened and referred by their physician.

Previously, on April 3, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visited the Ag Center to evaluate Shipley Arena’s suitability for handling hospital surge capacity. Singer has said the Corps found the arena to be “very” suitable, but there aren’t currently plans to use it for that purpose.

“It’s still an option to use the Ag Center for surge if needed, but current data doesn’t show a need for it,” said Maggie Kunz, spokesperson for the county health department. “It’s a good testing site because it is partially indoors and should be able to remain open even in poor weather, and we could expand capacity if needed.”

Maryland Department of Health operates community-based testing sites in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland National Guard, Maryland State Police, local health departments and private partners.

“We’re happy to work with state and local partners to increase COVID-19 testing capacity,” Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer said in the county news release. “Testing is an important part of the Governor’s Roadmap to Recovery for safe reopening, along with contact tracing, which we are also increasing.”

There are also several additional, non-MDH testing sites throughout the state being operated by local governments and private organizations. In order to schedule a testing appointment at a non-MDH testing site, contact the site directly. For information and resources regarding COVID-19, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov. Click on the “Testing” tab for information on scheduling a test at one of the state-operated sites.

Times reporter Jon Kelvey contributed to this article.

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