Coronavirus

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

Maryland residents will now be able to get tested for COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms or a doctor’s referral.

About 3.5 percent of Maryland residents have now been tested for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a statement Tuesday morning. The state has conducted more than 200,000 tests.

Now the state will offer tests to anyone who believes they have been exposed to the disease, even if they do not have symptoms, Hogan said. These tests will be offered, appointment-free, at community-based testing sites across the state. This includes two more VEIP stations in Prince George’s County being converted into testing sites.

“This will help doctors diagnose and treat new cases more quickly, and it will further increase the safety of our state for all citizens,” Hogan said in the statement. “In addition, we are authorizing and actively encouraging the state’s hundreds of pharmacies to directly order and administer COVID-19 tests, another way we can make testing more widely available in our communities.”

Tests will be available, starting Thursday, at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County. On Friday, tests will also be available at the VEIP stations in Glen Burnie and Hyattsville. Testing will also open next week at the Clinton VEIP station in Prince George’s County, according to the announcement.

Licensed pharmacists will also be able to collect samples for testing, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing guidelines, according to Hogan’s announcement.

Frederick Health, which operates one of the larger testing sites in Frederick County, will not offer tests to those without symptoms due to limited testing materials, said spokeswoman Kelsey Shupe in an email.

Due to material limitations, Frederick Health prioritizes tests for symptomatic patients, hospitalized patients, pre-surgical patients, health care providers and first responders, Shupe said.

“Once we can secure an adequate supply of testing supplies and reagents, Frederick Health will open our testing up to everyone, regardless of symptoms. Until then, people without symptoms will need to seek alternatives, such as commercial labs and provider offices,” she said in an email.

The Frederick County COVID-19 Testing Task Force is working to expand testing in the county, including testing for those without symptoms who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, said Dr. Randall Culpepper, deputy health officer for Frederick County. But it is not quite there.

“Our objective is to have testing available for all individuals, regardless of symptoms, especially those who are contacts of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases. Currently, Frederick County residents who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms can contact their healthcare provider about being tested, and their provider can authorize a test at their discretion,” Culpepper said in an email.

Deaths, cases rise as hospitalizations decline

The number of deaths from COVID-19 reached a six-day high Tuesday, with 60 newly reported deaths announced by the Maryland Department of Health in the last 24 hours.

There have now been 1,963 people who have died from COVID-19 since March 18, when the first death in Maryland was announced. That means 31-times more people have died from COVID-19 in two months than from influenza during the seven-month flu season.

COVID-19 also accounts for 3.7-times more deaths in Maryland than roadway fatalities did in 2019, according to the most recent data available from the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Frederick County reported an additional death Tuesday evening, bringing the county death toll to 93. The most recently reported death is a woman in her 80s.

It is unclear how many deaths have come from long-term care facilities. The Maryland Department of Health updates information on cases and deaths from nursing homes once a week, on Wednesdays.

There are at least 77 deaths without county data available. Some of the deaths are likely from Frederick County as the Frederick County Health Department is reporting 10 more deaths than the state.

It is possible that the state has not reported all the deaths in Frederick County due to lags in reporting between the county and state health departments.

The county now has 1,531 cases, an increase of 28. But while cases increase in the county, an additional 39 people were released from isolation. At this point, 52 percent of those diagnosed with the disease in the county have been released from isolation.

Confirmed cases in the state increased by 1,783, bringing the state total to 41,546, according to the Maryland Department of Health, as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. The increase reported Tuesday is Maryland’s highest single-day increase in cases yet in the pandemic. Actual case counts are also likely higher due to lags between county and state health departments. This does not include the 28 new cases reported by Frederick County Tuesday.

This is likely, in part, due to expanded testing, with the state adding additional testing sites at VEIP stations and Meritus Medical Center now offering tests for people regardless of if they are symptomatic.

In Frederick County, hospitalizations increased by three. The county is seeing the number of hospitalizations flatten out, the News-Post previously reported. Hospitalizations across the state continue to decrease with lower numbers of both intensive and acute care patients. There were 113 additional people reported hospitalized between Monday and Tuesday.

But there were enough people discharged to bring the number of people currently hospitalized down to 1,421, a decrease of 26.

The number of intensive care patients dropped by 18, with acute care patients decreasing to 884.

Hospitalizations and intensive care patients are metrics the governor uses to determine how to proceed with his reopening plan.

The numbers have been declining in the three days since Gov. Larry Hogan announced the first stage of the Roadmap for Recovery. If the numbers continue the trend, the governor could start to reopen more in a couple weeks.

However, many jurisdictions did not open following Hogan’s plan. Counties like Frederick and Howard used modified and delayed reopening plans, as county leadership said they felt it was not right for their respective counties to reopen as quickly.

Hotspots like Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, which consistently lead the state in the number of cases and deaths, also did not reopen, with Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks extending the stay-at-home order until June 1.

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(17) comments

vodalone

Hopefully this article points in the direction that since in 2020 humanity is so interconnected globally, even though a virus can spread quickly because of that inter-connectivity, we can also subdue it quickly by the collective actions we take. Trying to be optimistic about this.

https://news.yahoo.com/as-more-states-reopen-georgia-defies-predictions-of-coronavirus-resurgence-whats-the-lesson-for-the-rest-of-the-country-164734815.html

jsklinelga

Earlier I commented that 31 times the death rate compared to the flu seemed high. Then aw posted only 40 died of flu. I checked her link and it was correct. But it

seems odd. Here are the stats for 2017-2018

" During the 2017-2018 flu season, nearly 1 million Americans were hospitalized and 80,000 people died as a result of the flu, which was the highest death toll in decades." The estimates for deaths last season were lower but still around 45,000

nationwide. Something is not jiving.

FBoard

Seasonal flu deaths are being counted as Covid deaths. Data manipulation

vodalone

Someone is playing with the numbers too much, seems sketchy.

FBoard

Ditto

Riptide262

I recall reading something about how the porn industry was being decimated by AIDS. Infected actors/actresses were sick without knowing and spread the disease at work. The solution was regular testing of all actors/actresses. This was a small population and the producers could make it a condition of employment so they could ensure widespread compliance. Actors/actress could not work without a recent clean bill of health. This approach quickly stopped the rampant spread of AIDS epidemic in the industry. With no Covid vaccine on the immediate horizon and the economy quickly bleeding to death, regular population wide testing may be the best solution. Stay inside unless you have been tested within 7 days. Stay inside if you were tested and found to be infected. The challenge is how to efficiently implement weekly testing and ensure compliance. In addition, we would need hotels or barracks to shelter the infected with mild symptoms away from their families or others. This is hardly an ideal solution, but it provides a way to fully turn the economy back on. The problem is how to mass produce known testing technology. This is a problem we can solve relatively quickly. It is also sustainable until a vaccine can be created, tested, and deployed to the population.

bosco

If one is asymptomatic, what good does getting tested do for you? You still have to wear a mask inside retail establishments.

Greg F

Here’s a prime example of how one irresponsible person can make the openings worse. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/disastrous-arkansas-covid-cluster-spells-trouble-for-church-openings/ar-BB14jHM3?li=BBnb7Kz

bosco

Meanwhile, the death rate in Georgia continues to drop.

steelersfan2005

you mean unreported to keep the numbers down.

vodalone

This isn't North Korea or Russia lol. Testing goes up, cases go up, even more so when more places are allowing testing for asymptomatic people.

FBoard

Versus over reported (those dying WITH not OF, "probable" with no clarification) to keep the numbers up?

bosco

Just sayin' what the Georgia Department of Public Health's graphs are showing.[ninja]

tptfmd

What happened to all of the previous comments?

jsklinelga

31 times the number of deaths due to CoVid 19 as opposed to the flu seems wrong..Should it be 3.1 times? That would be in line with the national average.

awteam2000

https://foxbaltimore.com/news/local/health-department-reports-40-flu-related-deaths-in-maryland-this-season

FBoard

Nearly every death is counted as a Covid death. There are probably seasonal flu deaths being counted as Covid deaths.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.br/> TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.