ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — State health officials are conducting COVID-19 serology testing study for all professional and volunteer firefighters in Maryland.

“Our firefighters are on the front lines of emergency response, which greatly increases their risk of exposure to COVID-19,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Serology testing helps our health officials determine the prevalence of the virus, so we can have a better idea about how to prevent transmission and help protect our essential workforce.”

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The initiative is a part of the Maryland Health Department’s ongoing coronavirus antibody study to determine about how many Marylanders have been exposed to the virus.

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Serology testing is not diagnostic, but it uses a sample of blood to look for antibodies made in response to a previous COVID-19 infection.

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Frederick County and the City of Annapolis have submitted more than 650 serologic samples since September 15 from their firefighters. It yielded a 1.9% positivity rate.

Fire other counties have received or requested testing supplies: Prince George’s County, Worcester County, Salisbury, Fort Detrick and BWI Station.

“We’re working closely with all of our local jurisdictions to continue to bring them into this initiative,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “More participation not only increases the reach of our study, but also provides valuable insight about the prevalence of COVID-19 among our first responders and the communities they serve.”

Maryland’s aggregate serology testing data can be accessed here.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff