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    December 22, 2021

    Media contacts:

    Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536

    Andy Owen, Deputy Director, Media Relations, 410-767-6491

    Maryland Department of Health Secretary Schrader encourages COVID-19 testing before holiday gatherings

    Baltimore, MD – Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Secretary Dennis R. Schrader today encouraged Marylanders to get a COVID-19 test for themselves and loved ones before they gather indoors for the holidays.

    “As we move further into the holidays and winter season continues, getting vaccinated, boosted and tested are the most important precautions Marylanders can take to protect themselves against COVID-19 and the Delta and Omicron variants," said Secretary Schrader. “Increasing community access to COVID-19 testing remains a priority and we are introducing new initiatives each week. Marylanders getting a COVID-19 test before they visit their family and friends will give them the peace of mind that they can safely enjoy their gatherings."

    Yesterday, Governor Hogan outlined several actions related to increasing testing availability, including:

    • Working to increase weekly shipments to get more tests out more quickly;
    • Mobilizing the Maryland National Guard to provide support personnel to expand testing sites and hours;
    • Mobilizing additional resources through the state's Vaccine Equity Task Force to offer testing at vaccine clinics in vulnerable communities; and
    • Providing an additional $30 million in funding for schools to purchase testing resources.

    There are more than 310 COVID-19 testing locations across Maryland. To find a location nearest them and operating hours, Marylanders can search the MDH testing locator at COVIDtest.Maryland.gov using their street address or ZIP code.

    MDH also operates three testing sites that provide free testing:

    The state is distributing 500,000 BinaxNOW Antigen Self Test kits via local health departments (LHDs) statewide. To locate a site where the BinaxNow tests are offered, and for more COVID-19 information in each jurisdiction, visit LHD Distribution Sites. All three state sites listed above now distribute the free at-home test kits to Marylanders, while supplies last.

    Due to the prevalence of the contagious Delta and Omicron variants, MDH strongly recommends that everyone be tested if they are symptomatic or suspect close exposure to a positive case, regardless of their vaccination status.

    For more information about COVID-19 in Maryland visit covidLINK.maryland.gov. For the most recent Maryland COVID-19 data, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov

    The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.

    Follow us at http://www.twitter.com/MDHealthDept and https://www.facebook.com/MDHealthDept.