Infectious disease specialists and other health care professionals agree that testing people to determine if they have COVID-19 is crucial to stopping the spread of the dreaded illness. Folks who know they’re infected can stay home and keep it to themselves.

Even though the far western part of Maryland has had very few cases compared to the state’s population centers, we were pleased to find out that the Garrett County Health Department is offering drive-thru testing Friday for residents without coronavirus symptoms, which include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Some people who are sick also have reported fatigue, muscle or body aches and a newfound loss of taste or smell.

Some people can have the illness without showing symptoms. Without knowing it, those folks can make others sick.

Free testing will be offered in Accident Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Northern Middle School, 371 Pride Parkway, behind Northern High School. Health department workers also will use swabs to collect samples from people’s nostrils at Mountain Laurel Medical Center, located at 1027 Memorial Drive in Oakland, on July 17 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event this week will be held rain or shine.

“This is not an antibody test that may identify a previous (COVID-19) infection,” the health department said in a news release. “These clinics are for persons who do not have symptoms. Persons with symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their doctor to be tested at the hospital outpatient laboratory or other clinical laboratory. Persons that are interested in an antibody test for COVID-19 should also contact their health care provider.”

The samples via nasopharyngeal swab will be collected while people sit in their cars. Citizens who test positive for the disease will be notified by phone, while negative results will be mailed. Results are expected to take three to four days.

The state has established COVID-19 testing stations in numerous locations, but none in Allegany and Garrett counties. Plenty of kits were made available from South Korea through the efforts of Gov. Larry Hogan and first lady Yumi Hogan.

Plans are being developed for drive-thru testing in Allegany County. West Virginia counties including Mineral and Hampshire already conducted testing.

Reacting to the pandemic months ago, the governor instituted a stay-at-home order to limit transmission. As he further relaxes restrictions, people are traveling more, including those from heavily populated areas who have second homes at Deep Creek Lake and other spots up this way.

Testing can provide peace of mind. We urge citizens to take advantage of the offer. 

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