After months of requests from the city of Laurel, the Prince George’s County Health Department opened a new COVID-19 testing site at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center on Monday.
“We pushed very yard to have a testing site in Laurel,” said Steve Allen, Laurel’s emergency center operator. “We are really happy to have it here.”
The site, at 7120 Contee Road, can handle both vehicles and those on foot. Appointments for the free tests are required, though walk-ins will be accepted providing there is time, Allen said. Health insurance is not necessary.
“I really ask the population to take advantage of the site, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or are of a certain age," Allen said, referring to residents ages 60 and older.
Prince George’s County entered a modified Phase 2 reopening on Monday that allowed retail stores, restaurants, churches, outdoor community pools, barbershops and hair salons to reopen with restrictions, including on capacity. Businesses not allowed to open under the Phase 2 modifications include enclosed shopping malls, gyms, amusement parks and casinos.
“As we gradually lift more restrictions across the county in Phase 2 of our reopening, testing more residents remains a critical part of our success going forward,” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said in a statement. “Not only will the new site at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center expand our testing footprint in the County, it will provide more access to testing for our region’s senior citizens, a population that data show is at higher risk of serious COVID illness."
The pandemic, Allen said, is “still a pretty significant event” with “no light at the end of the tunnel."
“This type of virus spreads so fast and so easily,” Allen said. “You may have it and not show any symptoms. You spread it and don’t know it.”
Since February, Allen and his team at the Emergency Operations Center have been working to stay updated about the coronavirus, the various phases and their restrictions, and to keep supplies in order. The center has also been active in helping with area food drives and providing senior citizens with rides to appointments.
“I have been very proud of the whole team effort,” Allen said. “We are in good shape to be able to support the city and the surrounding area.”
Allen, himself, was tested, along with Mayor Craig Moe, last Friday at the new testing site. The procedure took about 10 minutes and was fairly easy, except for the actual test, Allen admitted.
“It does bring a little tear to your eye,” said Allen, who did not yet know his results as of Tuesday.
The Laurel-Beltsville site’s hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. Call 301-883-6627.