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Coronavirus Updates: Additional Testing at Columbia VEIP Station, RTA Service for Special Election

Coronavirus Updates: Additional Testing at Columbia VEIP Station, RTA Service for Special Election

April 24, 2020 

Media Contact: 

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412  


ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball responded to the Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery plan announced by Governor Hogan today.  

“Today the Governor provided an overview of benchmarks and phases to re-opening and recovery for Maryland,” said Ball. “Howard County will review these standards and they will guide our decisions for re-opening certain aspects of our community, like our parks, recreation centers, and playgrounds. This is going to be a thoughtful, deliberative phased process, and residents must understand that everything is not going back to normal immediately. Our aggressive mitigation measures have flattened the curve, but we must ensure that when we do re-open it is in a safe and responsible way.”   

Additional Testing  

The Howard County Health Department announced today increased testing capacity from 100 to up to 146 tests a day at the Columbia VEIP Station beginning next week. The testing site has been opened since April 7th and is operating on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m – 2 p.m. To date, the Columbia site has conducted 351 tests. 

The testing site has been incrementally increasing testing from the original 60 tests a day and will use a phased approach next week as well. Beginning Tuesday there will be three lanes for a total of 120 appointment slots. If the early week increase goes smoothly, the site is prepared to increase to 146 appointments on Thursday. The phased approach allows the site to increase tests without compromising efficiency or creating longer wait times.  

To qualify for testing, residents will need to get a referral from their healthcare provider and will then be given directions on how to register online and make an appointment at a test site. At the test sites, residents will remain in their vehicles with the windows rolled up until they receive their test.   

After receiving their test, residents will be given additional information about how to properly self-isolate at home. If symptoms worsen, residents should contact their healthcare provider, especially if they experience shortness of breath.   

RTA Mobility is providing service for the Special Congressional District 7 Election on Tuesday, April 28th from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. to the Howard County Fairgrounds.  

These services are specifically for those disabled voters who need assistance at the polls. Please call 800-270-9553 to schedule a trip. Rides must be scheduled no later than 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 27th 

Special Election Reminders 

The State Board of elections is providing three ways to vote in the special election on April 28th, including vote by mail, which is strongly recommended. For additional information please visit their website here.  

Vote by Mail 
To slow the spread of COVID-19, all voters in the 7th Congressional District are strongly encouraged to vote by mail. The process is secure and the most effective way to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

To ensure everyone has an opportunity to vote, all voters in the 7th Congressional District will receive a mail-in ballot and can return it by mail. To vote by mail: 

  • Ballots were mailed on April 8, 2020. 
  • Vote your ballot, fill in the oval to the left of your candidate choice. 
  • Sign and date the oath on the envelope using black ink. 
  • Return your voted ballot by mail or deliver it to a secure drop box location. 
  • No stamp is required. 
  • Make sure your ballot is postmarked on or before April 28, 2020 or delivered to a drop box location by 8 pm on Tuesday, April 28th. You may drop off your ballots for the Congressional District 7 Special General Election using the secure Ballot Drop Box located at the Board of Elections office at 9770 Patuxent Woods Dr, Columbia, MD 21046.

If you did not receive a ballot, please contact your local board of elections

In-Person Voting 

To ensure that all voters have an opportunity to vote, there will be three in-person voting locations on April 28, 2020 for voters to cast their ballots. These locations will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. 

For Howard County voters who live in the 7th Congressional District, the polling location is at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship 21794. 

Aging In-Place Tax Credit  

The aging in-place tax credit application deadline has been extended to June 30th. To apply, please click here.  

Howard County General Hospital Surge Plan 

Today, Howard County Government announced a coordinated surge plan with Howard County General Hospital (HCGH). The surge plan focuses on three major aspects of operation: adding physical capacity to the hospital; tracking, streamlining and purchasing vital equipment; and identifying and deploying staff to the hospital. Currently, HCGH has used no more than 20 percent of their capacity for COVID-19 patients, and only used 15 percent of available ventilators.  

During typical times, Howard County General Hospital is licensed to operate 255 beds, with 16 intensive care beds. Since the surge plan has been enacted, there are now 30 critical care beds, and there will be 40 by the end of the month.  

Currently there are 110 beds available for non-critical COVID-19 patients. HCGH can also convert more space, including utilizing tents established outside the main entrance, allowing 47 more COVID-19 beds, for a total of 155. Howard County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is working with the State Hospital Surge Task Force and assisting in getting additional large tents to serve as additional medical capacity should all the adjustments within the hospital become maxed out. 

To read the full release please click here.