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Where Are The Tests? One Month After Procuring South Korean Tests, Counties Still Struggling With Testing

While Leaders Consistently Say They Need More Supplies while Hogan Touts “ Milestone”

Washington, May 20, 2020
County and city leaders have largely been left to fend for themselves in procuring testing supplies and PPE needed to protect public health and reopen businesses safely.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On April 20th, Governor Hogan announced that the state acquired 5,000 kits from LabGenomics, a South Korean company, claiming at the time that these kits would allow the state to conduct 500,000 tests. In recent weeks, it has become abundantly clear that these tests were incomplete, lacking swabs, viral transport media, reagents and other components - despite the Administration’s continued claims to the contrary.

Maryland has yet to hit the 10,000 daily test benchmark set by Governor Hogan, let alone the 28,000 tests per day recommended by health researchers. Nevertheless, on Friday evening the state entered Phase 1 of its reopening plan without proper testing in place to track, contain and limit the spread of this virus.

County and city leaders have largely been left to fend for themselves in procuring testing supplies and PPE needed to protect public health and reopen businesses safely. This week, Baltimore City officials announced the independent purchase of 18,000 coronavirus tests to process its own tests to provide results to residents more quickly. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced she is “working with Montgomery County … to purchase additional tests … [the private lab] may be able to get up too close to the 15,000 [tests] we will need.” Montgomery County is signing a contract to allow for more than 2,000 tests be administered a day.  

“Shifting the burden to local leaders on reopening has left many jurisdictions grasping for adequate testing or PPE needed to protect their residents. We cannot hope to safely reopen if our counties do not have what they need to track and contain this virus,” said Congressman Anthony Brown. “The reckless rush to reopen without a plan in place to ramp up testing and distribute critical supplies in areas of greatest need risks the lives of Marylanders and risks inflicting more pain and suffering on families . As One Maryland, we must do better.” 

Examples of local leaders raising concern over the lack of testing and taking steps to get the tests needed to safely reopen:

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks: “Quite frankly we can’t reopen because we don’t have the resources that we need to do so safely. What this means is that we have made certain requests, and that we have not received the resources that we need to safely reopen. Put simply, we need the state to do his part just like it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure that the state has the resources it needs.” - WJZ Baltimore

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman: “In Anne Arundel County, officials have not seen a decrease in hospitalizations and there is still a shortage of protective equipment and tests. [Pittman] thinks the lifting of some restrictions could be appropriate for jurisdictions with low case numbers, but Anne Arundel and other central Maryland counties aren’t ready yet.” - Baltimore Sun

“Pittman cited a long-range of factors that went into the decision, including infection rates, availability of testing and protective gear, community tracing and contract tracing.” - Capital Gazette

Montgomery County Executive Marc B. Elrich: “County Executive Marc Elrich said the county has signed contracts with local companies in the county’s bio sector that have capacity to provide testing instruments and run the tests, with quick results.” - Bethesda Magazine

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball: “We do not have the building blocks in place that the governor has outlined in stage one for reopening. We are not relaxing restrictions to the extent that the governor announced.” - Baltimore Sun 

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young: “Baltimore City is simply not in a position to safely reopen at this time. To get there, we must significantly increase testing capacity in order to meet guidelines established by public health experts. Even with this new commitment from the governor, there is a large disparity between where we are currently and where the CDC guidance is recommending we be at to reopen safely.” - Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr.: “Knowing that there are not the testing needs, there’s not the PPE, there’s not the sufficient contact tracing that every health expert has said needs to be in place to safely reopen, we knew we needed to talk to our health experts and economic development experts and try to balance safety and health.” - WBAL

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner: “We have not yet ramped up testing for people who are not symptomatic, and our nursing homes are just  beginning their testing that was announced by the Governor a couple of weeks ago.” - WFMD

Joint Letter from County and City Leaders: “Every one of the undersigned executives believes that we lack sufficient resources to achieve our shared goal of safely reopening our jurisdictions, without limitations. While we all work furiously to implement comprehensive testing, increase contact tracing, and obtain more PPE for our residents, we need the State’s leadership to ensure that Maryland’s counties are not competing against one another on the open market. Accordingly, we ask you to please use the purchasing power of the State of Maryland to acquire sufficient resources to meet the needs you have identified as the pillars of your reopening plan.” - Maryland Matters

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