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MoCo Secures Thousands Of Coronavirus Tests Through Partnership

Patch logo Patch 5/22/2020 Alessia Grunberger
a close up of a bottle: Montgomery County expects to get 20K more coronavirus tests per week, starting June 8. © Shutterstock Montgomery County expects to get 20K more coronavirus tests per week, starting June 8.

ROCKVILLE, MD — In an ambitious plan to expand COVID-19 testing, Montgomery County has partnered with a Rockville-based laboratory to offer thousands of swab tests to nursing home staff and residents, frontline workers, and the general public.

The self-administered oral swab tests, developed by AdvaGenix, can produce results in less than 48 hours, according to officials.

"This is a game changer for us. This greatly increases our ability to get more testing in Montgomery County," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "Testing is an essential part of the road to reopening. It is great that we are doing this and that we are able to partner with a local company on this important step."

In the first phase of the contract, which is underway, the molecular diagnostics lab will send over a minimum of 7,500 tests per week. They are reserved for first responders, employees of the county's Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, and nursing home and long-term facility staff and residents.

The second phase kicks off the week of May 31. Tests will be given to county employees who are essential workers, hospital staff, and health care providers.

The third phase, which begins June 8, will boost the county's testing capacity to 20,000 tests per week.

"By then, testing is scheduled to begin at sites such as grocery stores and other essential businesses for their employees; and testing will also be available for the general public," officials said in a statement.

Testing for the general public will continue based on availability.

According to Dr. Travis Gayles, the county's top health official, a little more than 3 percent of residents have been tested for COVID-19. The goal is to test 5 percent of the population.

"This partnership will help us get to the goal we have set of testing 5 percent of the population," said Gayles. "This enables us to quickly test groups of people and expand testing overall so that we can have a true picture of the virus in the community and help us make reopening decisions based on data."

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