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New COVID testing site opens for Howard County employees and their families

In an effort to relieve lines at COVID-19 testing sites, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Tuesday that the Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City will now offer PCR and rapid tests for county employees and their families.

The site will be operated by Ally Health from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., on Wednesdays.

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“There is an urgent need for quick and effective testing,” Ball said. “By adding this site for employees we hope to help the system overall and reduce the wait times throughout our entire county.”

About 15,000 employees and their families are eligible to go to the site, including employees of the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Howard County Sheriff’s Office, the library system and staff at Howard Community College, Ball said. Appointments will be required with proper ID.

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The public school system, Ball said, is working with a different contractor to provide a site for its employees.

“We are in ongoing conversations to see how we can be helpful,” Ball said.

Howard County’s COVID-19 metrics reached all time highs this week, with a positivity rate of 27.8% and a case rate of 185 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The county reported more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases last week, compared to 280 new cases in the first week of December.

“You should assume when you go out that COVID-19 is everywhere,” Ball said. “Testing is vital to fighting this pandemic. Our actions today are a critical step to keeping the essential services we need open for our county and our state.”

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Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman said that testing was “just one tool” to protect against COVID-19 spread. She stressed that everyone should get vaccinated and receive their booster shots. Masks should be worn indoors and while out in public, Rossman said, and people should stay home when feeling ill.

“Now is the time to make sure you and your loved ones are receiving full protection from the vaccine,” Rossman said. “We are working diligently to expand more testing and vaccination clinic hours to meet the growing demand.”

Representatives from the county state’s attorney office and the sheriff’s office thanked Ball during the public announcement for opening the clinic for county employees.

“There are certain sectors of government that are essential and must continue to operate regardless of the challenges the pandemic poses to us,” said State’s Attorney Rich Gibson. “Services like police, fire, emergency services and the State’s Attorney’s Office cannot cease to function without horrific consequences to our community. Our office is not immune; and we’ve been dealing with the impact of the virus on our staff as well. That’s why we are extremely grateful that County Executive Ball, who clearly appreciates the need to have testing readily available to county government employees and their family members, is also offering that same testing to our staff so critical services can, hopefully, continue uninterrupted without any crippling consequences created by staffing shortages.”

Lynn Coleman, interim president of Howard Community College, said the college is working with the county health department to offer a vaccine clinic during the spring semester to reach anyone who needs a shot.

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