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Baltimore County provides details on expanded COVID testing

Baltimore County Fire Chief Joanne Rund. Credit: Baltimore County
Baltimore County Fire Chief Joanne Rund. Credit: Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski laid out plans Wednesday to ramp up the county’s COVID-19 testing to meet the high demand, which comes as the county’s COVID positivity rate has spiked 400% in the past month.

Olszewski said this coming Monday the county will open a large-scale COVID testing site in the old Sears building at the White Marsh Mall, where the county already has a vaccine clinic.

He said the county will expand the hours of its current testing sites in Towson, Randallstown and Dundalk.

All of the county’s testing clinics will operate by appointment only starting next week.

“What we’re seeing is you’ve got members of the public, some who have respiratory and other illnesses standing outside in the cold for hours at a time,” Olszewski said in a news conference. “And that’s really not to the benefit of them nor to the benefit of our staff.”

Olszewski said the county has purchased 100,000 at-home test kits. He expects some of those kits will be available to hand out to county residents next week. There are an additional 100,000 COVID test kits he said are coming for the school system.

You can find out more about the county’s COVID-19 testing at Baltimore County’s website, www.baltimorecountymd.gov.

Olszewski urged people to not go to hospital emergency rooms or call ambulances for COVID tests.

“That’s not what they’re there for,” Olszewski said.

“The omicron wave has stressed our regional EMS system to its max,” said Baltimore County Fire Chief Joanne Rund. “We’re dealing with the increase in patients calling for 9-1-1. We’re dealing with our own personnel becoming infected and needing help.”

Chief Rund said about 10% of her workforce is out due to either being quarantined or infected with COVID.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2