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Upper Chesapeake expanding COVID-19 testing in Aberdeen starting Nov. 30

Upper Chesapeake Health will expand coronavirus testing at its site in Aberdeen to five days a week beginning Monday.

COVID-19 testing will now be available from 8 a.m. to noon Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Previously, testing at Aberdeen was only available for two hours on Mondays and Fridays and the site was closed on Tuesdays.

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Expanded hours will allow Upper Chesapeake to increase its testing to capacity to about 750 to 1,000 tests per week or about 150 to 200 tests per day, said Martha Mallonee, a spokesperson for UCH. It had been administering about 130 each daily the location was open, she said.

“Obviously, our goal is to test as many people as possible,” Mallonee said.

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The Aberdeen testing site, a temporary climate-controlled building on the grounds of the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s planned freestanding medical facility off Route 22, has offered COVID testing since Oct. 1.

The health system moved pre-surgical testing to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air to be able to offer additional community testing at Aberdeen, Mallonee said.

The turnaround for testing results is about five to six days. “The lab is working on lowering this timeframe, but volumes are what they are,” Mallonee said.

Appointments are still required to get tested — they can be made at umuch.org/covidtesting — however a doctor’s referral is not necessary.

Patients should stay in their vehicle and text the word COVID to 410-216-5762. They will receive a text with instructions about the appointment and when to come into the facility.

“To keep everyone safe, we ask that people follow the instructions when they arrive,” Mallonee said.

It’s important that people only make an appointment if they are willing to keep it.

“The number of ‘no-shows’ has increased. These are people who make an appointment, but don’t show up,” Mallonee said. “This takes a space from someone else.”

If anyone believes they need immediate care or has symptoms that worsen, they should contact the Emergency Department at UCMC in Bel Air or Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace.

The Aberdeen site, operated by UCH and the county’s Health Department, had been offering same-day appointments until a recent surge that hit Maryland and Harford County particularly hard.

The Maryland Department of Health reported 91 new coronavirus cases in Harford Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 5,805 and 91 deaths.

Harford’s COVID-19 metrics have decreased slightly in recent days, after several weeks of increases.

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The county’s moving average new case rate decreased to 42.22 per 100,000 on Thursday; that rate peaked at 47.26 on Monday after climbing daily for nearly a month.

The county’s positivity rate, which measures the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests against the number of tests administered, dropped for a sixth-straight day to 8.11% on Thursday.

While an improvement from the 9.88% the county registered on Nov. 19 — a sixth-month high — Harford’s rate is still trending almost 2 percentage points above the statewide positivity rate. A higher positivity rate indicates a higher level of transmission in the community and suggests more testing should be done.

Both metrics remain well above the thresholds established by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend the average case rate be less than 15 per 100,000 people and the positivity rate be below 5%.

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