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Hogan announces plans to open more COVID testing locations around the state

Nearly a dozen new coronavirus test sites will be operational next week as state and local officials seek to ease overtaxed emergency rooms around Maryland.

Gov. Larry Hogan made the announcement, which includes 10 sites at hospitals around the state. An additional site will be opened in Baltimore.

“We don’t need to go to an emergency room to get a test,” said Hogan. “There are people who are really sick coming to the emergency room that our health care heroes need to take care of.”

A week ago, Hogan announced the opening of two testing sites at Anne Arundel Medical Center and Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. The governor said the Harford County facility had contributed to a 72% reduction in emergency room patients.

Overfilled emergency rooms are causing backups that result in ambulances being required to wait for hours in parking lots to transfer patients to the hospitals. In Baltimore County, lengthy waits have forced the fire department to begin sending fire engines, brush fire trucks and other vehicles to medical emergencies.

The new sites are expected to relieve pressure at emergency rooms around the state. Many of those departments are dealing simultaneously with understaffing, an increased number of patients seeking treatment for COVID-19 as well as some who are seeking tests for the virus.

“These testing facilities will be an incredible resource right now,” said Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System.

People seeking tests from area emergency rooms have become a “disproportionate burden” on smaller, fatigued staffs, Suntha said.

The 10 new state testing facilities will be at:

  • University of Maryland Medical Center in Laurel.
  • University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata.
  • University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Largo.
  • Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham.
  • Meritus Health, Hagerstown.
  • Frederick Health, Frederick.
  • Johns Hopkins, Baltimore.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore.
  • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, Leonardtown.
  • Northwest Hospital, Randallstown.

The state also plans to open a site at St. Agnes Hospital in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. All of the facilities will be open seven days a week with no appointments.

Cases of the disease continue at record levels.

Suntha said the number of COVID-19 patients in his medical system quadrupled from 200 one month ago to 800 Thursday.

Of those, 75% were unvaccinated. Less than 5% reported being both fully vaccinated and having received a booster does, Suntha said.

As of Thursday, the state reported nearly 13,000 new cases and a rolling seven-day average of more than 12,600 per day. The cases per 100,000 residents stands at nearly 209. Prior to this month, the state had never recorded a rate above 55 cases per 100,000 people.

Hospitals are nearly at capacity with more than 3,100 COVID-19 related patients. The governor earlier this week said he expects hospitalizations will surpass 5,000 before the current wave crests.