Maryland purchased 250,000 rapid point-of-care antigen tests for COVID-19 that will be deployed across the state to at-risk and vulnerable populations, such as residents of nursing homes and correctional facilities, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday.
The tests, which can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes, are meant to supplement and not replace the current diagnostic testing methods for the novel coronavirus, Hogan said.
Maryland is the first state among 10 in the bipartisan, interstate testing compact with The Rockefeller Foundation to move forward with an order for rapid antigen tests.
At a press conference in Baltimore at Becton, Dickinson and Company, the manufacturer of the BD Veritor tests that Maryland purchased and one of two U.S. manufacturers of rapid antigen tests with FDA approval, Hogan said the plan was to ramp up this kind of testing over the coming months.
“This state-of-the-art rapid testing will be critically important to our continued economic recovery and will also help to keep the people of our state safe,” Hogan said.
The 250,000 antigen tests will cost the state $8 million and be funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the coming days, Hogan said the state will send the rapid tests to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, as well as state correctional and juvenile detention centers.
Hogan said the state is also in discussions to send tests to colleges and universities to help them control the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses.
“No one should have to choose between doing their job and doing their part to end this pandemic,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which seeks to advance new frontiers in science, data and innovation to solve global challenges.
“Beating back this pandemic requires a massive scale up of rapid screening testing to 200 million a month. Right now, as a country heading into flu season, we aren’t even at 30 million a month. That’s why the leadership and commitment shown by Governor Hogan, and all 10 governors in the [interstate] compact, is critical to giving workers, teachers, students, and vulnerable people the confidence they need to be safe until a vaccine is proven effective and widely available.”
The announcement of the testing purchase was made as Maryland reported 503 new coronavirus cases Thursday, including 22 in Frederick County.
The increases bring the number of confirmed cases in the state to 114,078 and 3,664 in the county.
The death toll in the state went up by seven to 3,679, while it remained at 120 in the county for a fifth consecutive day.
Meanwhile, current hospitalizations fell by 12 to 358, and the seven-day rolling positivity rate ticked upward slightly from 3.70 percent to 3.71 percent.
In Frederick County, which has now tested 25 percent of its population, the positivity rate rose from 3.03 percent to 3.06 percent.
At Frederick Health Hospital, there were three COVID-19 patients, including one in intensive care as of Wednesday.
There are 92 in intensive care across the state. That’s three fewer than the previous day.