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Montgomery County Surpasses Statewide COVID-19 Testing Target; Accelerates Efforts to Reach Additional Residents

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 13, 2020

             Montgomery County is releasing its plan to expand the availability of on-demand COVID-19 testing for residents, with a focus on zip codes in the County that have experienced higher rates of cases.

             To date, more than 112,000 Montgomery County residents have been tested and the County recently reached the State’s target of testing 10 percent of the population. The average test positivity is below the State’s average, and lower than several other large jurisdictions in Maryland. Combined with contact tracing and personal protective practices, the number of new daily positive cases in the County has continued to trend downward from an average of 300 new positive cases daily in May and June to 53 new positive cases on July 13.

            “We have worked very hard to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by basing our decisions on data and science,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “According to the data, there are several zip codes that have a disproportionate number of people who are testing positive for the virus. We have said from the beginning that equity was an important benchmark that we would monitor to ensure that all communities are safe. We are expanding our testing efforts so that communities of color have greater access to testing as well as other social services. Access to testing is essential to our beating this virus. By expanding access to testing, we are hoping to ensure that more residents, no matter where they live, can get testing.” 

             The testing plan will focus on increased testing availability in three specific areas:  community-based testing, testing in clinical and congregate settings, and testing of government and essential services employees. In addition, the County will continue to provide additional human services supports, such as food, rent and cash assistance, to communities at elevated risk and to households exposed to COVID-19. 

            “We have made significant progress on testing, contract tracing, and personal protective measures to drive our numbers down. But we recognize that even in smaller overall numbers, there are still groups who are impacted more by geography and race/ethnicity,” said County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles. “This future approach aims to focus on those groups hit hardest to drive the impact of the virus down even more. We have to provide more focused efforts in reaching into communities to provide testing and support for families who continue to be hardest hit by the virus.”

            The County’s long-term goal is to expand testing capacity until the capacity has reached 20,000 tests weekly by September and 30,000 tests weekly by October. This capacity will allow the County to reach the goal of testing 10 percent of the County’s population monthly.

            The plan will put emphasis on increasing testing in communities throughout the County that have experienced higher numbers of positive cases of COVID-19, specifically communities of color, which have some of the highest positive case rates in the County.  One way of reaching hard to serve communities has been to use “ready responders” to conduct in-home testing for residents living in areas disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and who face barriers to accessing community testing. In addition to testing, those impacted have been connected to additional community-based human service supports.

            Current and new testing locations will offer testing five or more days weekly, with special pop-up clinics organized in partnership with community organizations as well. Testing locations will be scattered across the County, with special emphasis on the 10 hardest hit zip codes. The top 10 zip codes for positive cases are (in descending order) 20906, 20902, 20904, 20877, 20903, 20874, 20901, 20886, 20850, and 20910. Staff from the Department of Health and Human Services will be available at all testing sites to connect residents to other needed services such as food, financial and housing assistance.

            In the zip codes with the highest number of cases, more than 10 percent of the population has been tested in most of them and the test positivity rate has been below the State’s average of nearly 5 percent.

            The County will continue and expand testing in clinical and congregate settings with a target of 8,000 tests weekly. These sites include independent living and older adult communities, group homes for developmentally disabled children and adults, large assisted living facilities with more than 50 residents, nursing homes and hospitals.

            Beginning later this week, appointments for testing sites can be made using an online appointment system. Walk-up testing will also be available at all sites, but registration is recommended so that necessary forms can be completed.

            Upcoming pop-up testing clinics include:

  • Tuesday, July 14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring

  • Thursday, July 16, 4 to 7 p.m. Takoma Park Recreation Center, 7315 New Hampshire Avenue, Takoma Park

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2 to 6 p.m. East County Recreation Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Drive, Silver Spring

  • Wednesday, July 22, 2 to 6 p.m. Oakdale Church, 3425 Emory Church Road, Olney

            More information about testing locations is on the County’s COVID-19 website

            For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website as well as the County’s data dashboard or follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCountyMD

            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: 20-372
Media Contact: Mary Anderson 301-529-7669