CUMBERLAND — A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will open Wednesday at the Allegany County Fairgrounds.

According to the Maryland Department of Health Tuesday, Allegany County once again had the highest daily COVID-19 positivity case rate in Maryland at 8.65%, compared to the statewide average of 5.24%.

As of Tuesday, Allegany County’s case rate had climbed to 66.54 cases per 100,000 people, which is also the highest rate in the state. By comparison, Maryland’s statewide average case rate is 19.79 per 100,000.

Testing will occur at the new site, 11400 Moss Ave., on Mondays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and no out-of-pocket cost, appointments or doctor’s orders will be required.

“The Allegany County Fairgrounds COVID-19 testing site will provide residents of Allegany County and our neighboring counties with a safe, comfortable place to get free tests,” Jenelle Mayer, Allegany County’s health officer, said via press release. “As testing has become more important than ever, so too has the importance of accessible options for those needing tests. We are thankful to have this convenient new site to serve our area.”

The new testing schedule at the fairgrounds replaces the kids-only drive-up clinic, which has been operating for the past few weeks in the fairgrounds’ multipurpose building.

The new drive-thru clinic is open to children and adults.

“This new testing site is a great addition to locations currently available in Garrett County,” Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens said via press release. “We appreciate the partnership between the Maryland Department of Health and Allegany County Health Department to make this testing site available to anyone in the region.”

To find more locations in Garrett County, visit https://garretthealth.org/.

Patients visiting the Allegany County site will remain in their cars throughout the testing process.

There are currently more than 225 testing sites located across the state.

“By partnering with the Allegany County Health Department to establish a new testing site, we are able to increase local testing capacity at a time when the need is high,” MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall said via the release. “With COVID-19 case and positivity rates ticking up in the region and across the state, it is critical for all Marylanders who need a test to be diligent about getting a test. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and testing provides the knowledge that we need to help contain the spread of the virus.”

On Tuesday, MDH reported 1,338 new COVID-19 cases, 54 hospitalizations and 12 deaths due to the disease in the past 24 hours.

MDH urges all Marylanders who need a test to get a test, including symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, people that suspect they’ve been exposed to the disease, individuals at risk of exposure including workers in frequent contact with the public in health care, emergency services, food and grocery, retail or manufacturing, public transportation, educational, and other congregate settings; individuals that have been in large gatherings; and people that have traveled recently.

Allegany County sets new guidelines

Public businesses, including restaurants, will face a new set of guidelines to help fight the rapidly spreading COVID-19 cases across Allegany County.

In a letter to residents Tuesday, Jake Shade, president of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners, outlined the new requirements.

“Governor Larry Hogan and the State of Maryland has given each county the flexibility in ‘The Road Map to Recovery’ and to date, Allegany County has moved to each new phase of recovery as soon as allowed by the State of Maryland,” the letter stated. “Unfortunately, our COVID-19 numbers are escalating at a pace that is nearly three times the rate of the rest of the State of Maryland. This requires us to need to make an adjustment.”

As result, the following guidelines will be in place across the county effective 5 p.m. Tuesday:

  • Indoor dining at restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity with tables at least 6 feet apart.
  • Outdoor amusements, such as miniature golf and go-kart tracks, will be limited to 50% capacity.
  • Indoor fitness, gyms, martial arts, dance and other studio-type activities, will be limited to 50% capacity.
  • Casinos, arcades and malls will be limited to 50% capacity.
  • Admittance to the County Office Complex will be by appointment only.

Allegany County’s Roadmap to Reopening resource can be found online at https://resources.inallegany.org/2020/05/1071/.

“We will monitor this closely over the next few weeks and will re-assess our situation on Monday, November 30, 2020,” the letter stated. “We ask that citizens and businesses be extra vigilant during this time to improve our health metrics to allow us to expand our re-opening. We trust the residents of Allegany County to make good and safe decisions and will continue working the with State of Maryland in the weeks ahead.”

Education board discusses learning planThe Allegany County Public Schools Board of Education Tuesday worked to balance the safety and health of students and staff, versus angry parents that want their children to return to in-school learning.

After a presentation about the latest COVID-19 local data from Allegany County Health Department officials, the board voted to have all students remain in a fully-virtual learning format until the county’s health metrics are below the recommended levels of a 5% positivity rate and 15 cases per 100,000 people for a five-day trend, and pending the availability of adequate staff for a hybrid learning format.

“The community really needs to pull together to get these numbers down so we can get the children back in school (and) back to playing sports,” board member Robert Farrell said.

Mineral County

The Mineral County Health Department reported 48 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

A student and staff member at Keyser Middle School were among the new positive cases along with an individual from New Creek Primary School, the health department reported Tuesday night.

Additional cases, according to the health department, include a person associated with the Frankfort High School football team and two employees at the Catamount Children’s Center in Keyser.

Two employees at the McDonald’s restaurant in Keyser also tested positive, forcing the closure of the restaurant for cleaning. Officials are working to identify those who may have had contact with the workers over the past 10 days.

Free COVID testing is being conducted Wednesday at the Mineral County Technical Center in Keyser from 8 a.m. to noon and at the Mineral County Fairgrounds in Fort Ashby from 2 to 6 p.m.

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