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The Aegis
Harford County

COVID outbreak at lab impacts tests performed at Ripken Stadium site in Aberdeen

Anyone who had a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at the Ripken Stadium testing site on Jan. 10 will need a do-over.

According to the Harford County Health Department’s website, a COVID-19 outbreak at the primary laboratory used by Omnipoynt Solutions, operators of the testing site, caused a shutdown at that lab. The saliva samples for the PCR tests from Jan. 10 were shipped to a backup laboratory but did not arrive in time to be processed and the tests expired.

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No other tests were affected, the health department said.

“We deeply apologize for this unforeseen experience as we all struggle through the recent COVID-19 surge,” read a statement on the health department’s website.

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Jan. 10 was the day the testing site opened at Ripken Stadium, where rapid antigen tests and PCR tests are performed on each patient.

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In its first week, the testing site performed approximately 5,500 PCR tests, according to Aaron Poynton, CEO of Omnipoynt Solutions. Of those, fewer than 500 samples were impacted, he said.

Affected patients were notified by email, Poynton said.

After the first day, Omnipoynt switched to nasal samples, which are being processed in about three days, instead of saliva samples which processing times vary by laboratory, Poynton said.

Wait time for testing has also been reduced, from three or four hours to about an hour in the mornings and a half-hour in the afternoons, Poynton said, thanks to a second testing line and a slight decrease in demand.

“The first two weeks of January during the peak of the omicron surge when everyone was going back to work and school, we did more tests nationally than any other time and it really created a backlog,” Poynton said. “We’re hopeful that as we get into February, we’ll see the testing numbers and positivity rates come down.”

The health department advises patients who had a PCR test on Jan. 10 only, to return to the Ripken site to be retested.

Those who are returning for retesting are asked to turn on their hazard lights when they enter the parking lot. A lot attendant will verify they were tested on Jan. 10 and guide them to an express lane where a PCR test and a rapid test will be performed.


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