CAMBRIDGE — Dorchester County Health Department had a record-breaking day of testing Wednesday, Nov. 18, with 318 individuals requesting a COVID test. With longer lines, the wait time averaged closer to 30 minutes, and they are on track to have a record-breaking month for testing, said DCHD Health Education Program Manager Angela Grove.
“I’m certainly pleased because we’re encouraging people to get tested before Thanksgiving as an added safety measure,” said Grove, “especially if they are seeing family members outside of their household. Of course, tests only capture your results at the time the test is administered, so it doesn’t mean people won’t become positive if they have been exposed. But testing can help isolate any known cases.”
Wednesday’s report showed Dorchester has tested 44.2% of its population and the total testing volume is 26,150, Grove said.
Free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be offered again from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23. Testing is weather permitting, open to the public, and does not require an appointment, doctor’s order or insurance. Spanish interpreters will be on site. In addition to COVID-19 testing, the health department is offering free cloth face coverings to participants, while supplies last.
The mask distribution is part of the Maryland Department of Health’s #MasksOnMaryland campaign to encourage all Marylanders to wear face coverings in public places to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each vehicle visiting the testing events before Thanksgiving will receive a package of five cloth face coverings at no cost until all of the packages have been distributed. Residents do not have to get tested to receive the face coverings, but should notify health department staff upon arrival if only interested in masks.
“With worsening statewide metrics and the upcoming holidays, we are at a critical point,” said Roger Harrell, Dorchester County health officer. “Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones and celebrate all that you’re thankful for, but we know family gatherings are a leading risk factor for COVID-19.”
The DCHD is offering the following guidance to help make Thanksgiving safer and lower the risk of developing COVID-19:
• Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If hosting a gathering, consider limiting the number of guests and length of time. Talk with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together. Have one person serve food and hold your meal outdoors if possible. Limit contact with others for 14 days before gathering. Travel increases the chance of spreading COVID-19. If you do travel, get tested prior to Thanksgiving. Stay home if you do not feel well.
• Deliver dinner to those at high-risk for COVID-19. Prepare meals for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness, and deliver them in a way that does not involve contact. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially prior to cooking and eating.
• Watch sports, parades, and movies from home with members of your immediate household. Participate in a virtual gratitude activity with extended family and friends.
• Shop online rather than in the store. Shopping indoors with big crowds is a high-risk activity. If you do shop in person, wear a face covering and stay at least six feet away from others.
• Report non-compliance concerns by contacting DCHD at 410-228-3223 (phone) or firstname.lastname@example.org (email).
For Maryland Department of Health information and resources about COVID-19, please visit covidlink.maryland.gov and coronavirus.maryland.gov. For the most up-to-date local information, visit dorchesterhealth.org and follow Dorchester County Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dorchesterhealthemergencypreparedness.