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For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 21, 2020

            County Executive Marc Elrich and County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles unveiled an ambitious COVID-19 testing plan made possible by a contract with AdvaGenix, a molecular diagnostics laboratory located in Rockville. The self-administered oral swab test, developed by AdvaGenix, enables the County to expand testing to essential frontline workers, nursing home staff and residents, and the general public, with test results available in fewer than 48 hours. 

            “This is a game changer for us. This greatly increases our ability to get more testing in Montgomery County,” said County Executive Elrich. “Testing is an essential part of the road to reopening. It is great that we are doing this and that we are able to partner with a local company on this important step.”

             The molecular testing will examine saliva collected by an oral swab or saliva tube to detect the presence of the virus. The test identifies all three genes within the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome.  Because it is an oral test, it can be self-administered, making it easier to conduct more tests in a less-invasive way and sites will need fewer staff.    

            In the first phase of the contract, which is underway, the County will receive a minimum of 7,500 tests per week. Priority groups to be tested initially will be first responders; nursing home and long-term facility staff and residents; and employees of the County’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. The second phase of the testing plan will begin the week of May 31 and will test County employees who are essential workers, and hospital workers and health care providers. Phase three begins June 8; and at that point, the County will begin receiving 20,000 tests per week. By then, testing is scheduled to begin at sites such as grocery stores and other essential businesses for their employees; and testing will also be available for the general public.

           Testing for the general public will continue based on test availability.

            “This partnership will help us get to the goal we have set of testing 5 percent of the population,” said Dr. Gayles. “This enables us to quickly test groups of people and expand testing overall so that we can have a true picture of the virus in the community and help us make reopening decisions based on data.”

            According to Dr. William Kearns, president and scientific officer of AdvaGenix, the scientific community is mobilizing to make testing more widely available as quickly as possible, navigating around shortages of supplies and other needed resources. “As we all confront the Coronavirus crisis, we feel honored to be in a position to help others, utilizing the full scientific resources of our company,” Dr. Kearns said. AdvaGenix was founded in 2014.

            For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.

            Put the “count” in Montgomery County! Be sure to complete the Census online, by phone, or by mail. It’s safe, confidential, easy, and important. #2020Census #EveryoneCountsMCMD

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Release ID: 20-266
Media Contact: Julie Parker 240-777-6507