ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced additional COVID-19 testing today for as many as 15,000 County employees and their families, including the library system and community college. The new testing site will be operated by Ally Health at the Roger Carter Community Center on Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Photos of the event can be found here.
We are aware of the limited capacity at testing sites and workforce shortages that have made it very difficult for our residents to get tested. There is an urgent need for quick and effective testing for our community – especially for workers of essential service providers such as our schools, libraries, college, government, courts, and more. If we want services, classes, and programs to continue, we need healthy employees and families – and that begins with available testing. We know that testing is so vital to fighting this pandemic, and our actions today a critical step to keep the essential services we rely open and safe.
The employee testing site will offer PCR and rapid tests and will be vital to relieve capacity issues at other testing locations. This announcement comes as Howard County’s COVID-19 metrics reached all time highs, with a positivity rate of 27.8% and a case rate of 185 cases per 100,000 people. Howard County reported more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases just in the last week – compared to about 280 cases the first week of December. According to the Maryland Department of Health, 14% of Howard County residents remain unvaccinated, including residents 4 and under, and 7% of residents have only received one dose. Approximately 42% of residents have not yet received a booster shot. Since vaccinations for children started in November, more than 40% of 5-11 year olds still need their first dose and 60% are yet to be fully vaccinated.
"Partnerships like the one announced today are important because they expand access to testing for essential workers," said Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. "We should also make sure we are fully vaccinated with a booster shot, wearing our masks indoors when out in public, avoiding large gatherings, and staying home if we are feeling sick."
“We would like to thank Dr. Ball & Howard County for their trust and partnership in Ally Health,” said Ally Health CEO Abid Shariff. “Our goal is to provide the highest level of reliable Covid antigen and PCR testing as our citizens make their way through these unpredictable times. Our partnership is a commitment to keep members of our community safe. My company is committed to giving you the results you need efficiently and quickly so we can minimize the spread of this ever-changing virus.”
“This new testing initiative will give Howard Community College employees much-needed hope and peace of mind as they continue to navigate this pandemic and strive to keep themselves and their families healthy and safe,” said Lynn Coleman, interim president of Howard Community College.
“Our libraries keep people connected to the educational materials, trusted information, and critical resources our community needs to thrive,” said Tonya Aikens, President & CEO of Howard County Library System. “Access to COVID-19 testing for library employees and household family members helps reduce spread of the virus, keeping our staff and community healthy and helping to ensure continued access to the library classes, events, and resources our customers who depend on them for their learning and pandemic recovery needs.”
“The members of my Office come in contact with the public on a daily basis,” said Sheriff Marcus Harris. “Allowing our members to be tested on a regular basis without delay will ensure that we can continue to perform our duties to the community.”
“There are certain sectors of government that are essential and must continue to operate regardless of the challenges the pandemic poses to us,” said State’s Attorney Rich Gibson. “Services like police, fire, emergency services and the State’s Attorney’s Office cannot cease to function without horrific consequences to our community. Our office is not immune; and we’ve been dealing with the impact of the virus on our staff as well. That’s why we are extremely grateful that County Executive Ball, who clearly appreciates the need to have testing readily available to county government employees and their family members, is also offering that same testing to our staff so critical services can, hopefully, continue uninterrupted without any crippling consequences created by staffing shortages.”