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COVID testing site at Carroll County Ag Center opens again to increase health department testing capacity during surge

The Carroll County Health Department opened a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site Thursday at the Agriculture Center in Westminster and plans to offer about 250 tests there each day on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only.

Taina Metsa-Mahka, left, and Bridget Martin help fellow nurse Lisa Martin-Bland into her protective gear inside the Carroll County Health Department's drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Carroll County Agriculture Center. Site manager Richard Brace said the center, which opened Thursday morning, had 240 tests booked for its opening day.
Taina Metsa-Mahka, left, and Bridget Martin help fellow nurse Lisa Martin-Bland into her protective gear inside the Carroll County Health Department's drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Carroll County Agriculture Center. Site manager Richard Brace said the center, which opened Thursday morning, had 240 tests booked for its opening day. (Dylan Slagle)

The site will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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The Ag Center was previously used as a COVID-19 testing site but it was phased out at the end of May when demand for tests waned and many pharmacies were offering testing.

Testing site manager Richard Brace was enthusiastic about the partnership between the Ag Center’s nonprofit board and the county.

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“Nonprofits, state and county agencies and volunteers have come together to help keep citizens healthy and safe,” Brace said.

According to Maggie Kunz, a Carroll County health planner, opening the Ag Center as a testing site will increase access to testing, which has become necessary due to the current COVID-19 case surge.

On Thursday, Maryland’s COVID-19 positivity rate reached 29.98% and hospitalizations due to the virus totaled 3,172, an increase of more than 500% in the last seven weeks.

The highest one-day case total ever in Carroll County — 287 positive cases — was reported Monday. The county’s positivity rate was 25.2% as of Tuesday.

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The Ag Center site will have the capacity to test more than 250 people each day.

“We’re working with the state to expand capacity and working on getting more test kits to distribute as soon as possible,” Kunz said.

In partnership with the health department, the Carroll County Public Libraries system is distributing free COVID-19 home-test kits at branches and at headquarters. Online registration opens on Tuesdays with pickups on Wednesdays. Supplies are limited.

Starting Friday, the health department will hold vaccination clinics at Carroll Community College. Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations will be available. Residents can register at https://cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links/

Clinics will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This week, the Friday clinic will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. due to expected inclement weather in the morning.

Editor’s note: This story was corrected to reflect the correct days the Ag Center testing site will be open — Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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