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Gov. announces new testing sites, new rules and free masks

A health care worker seals a coronavirus swab after testing at a coronavirus testing site on April 30 in Wantagh, N.Y.
A health care worker seals a coronavirus swab after testing at a coronavirus testing site on April 30 in Wantagh, N.Y.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday the opening of five new state-run COVID testing sites, new nursing home rules and a mask distribution program.

In a news conference at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Pavilion in Easton, Hogan said sites at Tidal Health in Salisbury, Garrett Regional Medical Center in Oakland, Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, Howard County General in Columbia and Baltimore, Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie would open by the end of next week.

That’s in addition to the 10 testing sites he announced last week.

Hogan also said a state health department rule taking effect next week will require all staff, volunteers and vendors regularly in nursing homes where community transmission is high to be tested twice a week, regardless of vaccination status. And visitors will have to provide proof of a recent negative test or to be tested with a rapid test before being allowed to enter.

“And we will be working closely with nursing homes across the state to make sure that all of the necessary testing resources are available to them free of charge,” he added.

In addition, Hogan said, the state will begin distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks through local health departments,state run testing facilities and vaccination sites.

“Next to getting vaccinated and a booster shot, wearing a mask is one of the best mitigation strategies that we have,” he said. “And KN95 and N95 masks provide additional infection protection compared to cloth and general use facemask.”

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