ELKRIDGE, Md. (WJZ) — Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced a seventh mobile COVID-19 testing site with a drive-thru option or a walk-up clinic on a bus. The site is set up at the fire station on Rowanberry Drive in Elkridge, a community with one of the highest case rates in the county, according to Ball.

Howard County has seen a 300% increase in testing at mobile bus locations in November and December, the county executive said.

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“The volume has been a challenge. It’s been a challenge on the front end with the staff we have here. It’s been a challenge on the backend with our laboratory services and operations,” said Dr. Arvind Narasimhan with FirstCall Urgent Group.

The FirstCall Urgent Group testing buses are deployed where there is a void. Locations are walkable and are placed along bus routes.

Earlier this week, Howard County added a COVID-19 testing site specifically for as many as 15,000 county employees and their families at the Roger Carter Community Center.

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“This will help keep essential services open and will help relieve capacity at other testing sites,” said Ball.

Howard County is nearing a 30% positivity rate with about 200 cases per 100,000 residents, compared to a 3.6% positivity rate and 8 cases per 100,000 a month ago.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, approximately 14% of Howard County residents, including children younger than 4, are unvaccinated, said Ball.

As communities continue to expand testing availability, there is a persistent call from local and health leaders to get vaccinated against the virus.

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“Please complete that vaccination series. Get boosters as soon as possible. In this race of vaccine vs. variants, we can win and we must win,” Ball said.

Cristina Mendez