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Seventh mobile COVID-19 testing site opens in Howard County

Howard County’s seventh mobile COVID-19 testing site opened Thursday at the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department, 5700 Rowanberry Drive.

Operated by Centennial Medical Group, the site will offer a drive-thru option off Bauman Drive and a walk-up bus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

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“The omicron variant is highly transmissible, which is why testing is still a key factor in beating this pandemic,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said during a news conference at the site. “These mobile test sites are especially valuable because it allows our partners to adapt to the changing landscape of this pandemic and to deploy where we need them the most.”

Since November, Ball said, the county has seen a 300% increase in testing demand at its mobile testing sites, and additional testing sites “are vital to slow the spread of this latest surge.”

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The Elkridge fire station was previously a drive-thru testing site in July 2020.

An individual should seek out COVID-19 testing if they have coronavirus symptoms, such as fever or chills, cough, fatigue, body aches loss of taste or smell or difficulty breathing; if they have had a known or suspected COVID-19 exposure; or if they must be screened for school or work, before travel or at the request of a health care provider, according to Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman.

Timely testing is important, Rossman said, in order for contact tracers to track virus spread, to identify those at risk and to inform them to take proper precautions.

Those interested in more information about COVID-19 testing should not call the fire department, according to volunteer Chief Russell Pryor. Instead, call the mobile COVID testing site directly at 443-351-7301.

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“The fire department has nothing to do with it,” Pryor said. “I can’t stress that enough.”

He also assured the surrounding community that steps were in place to keep traffic at a minimum.

Rossman reminded Howard County residents to wear masks, wash hands, disinfect high-touch surfaces, avoid large crowds, stay home if not feeling well and to get vaccinated.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, 14% of Howard County residents, including those 4 years and younger, still remain unvaccinated. Ball said approximately 42% of residents have not yet received boosters.

“The single most effective action that you can take to protect yourselves and your loved ones to stop this pandemic is to be fully vaccinated and boosted,” Ball said. “In this race of vaccine versus variants, we can win and we must win.”

First Call Urgent Care and Centennial Medical Group currently operate mobile testing at the following locations in Howard County:

· Long Reach Village Center, 8775 Cloudleap Court, Columbia; noon-7 p.m., Mondays.

· North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Rd, Laurel; noon-7 p.m., Tuesdays.

· The Elkridge 50+ Center/Elkridge Library 6540 Washington Blvd, Elkridge; noon-7 p.m., Fridays.

· Blandair Bus Loop, 5750 Oakland Mills Road Columbia; 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and Sundays.

· Route 40, 10236 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City; noon-7 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

· St. John’s Church, 9055 Tamar Drive, Columbia; 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturdays.

To find other testing locations in Howard County, go to howardcountymd.gov/covid-19-testing.

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