County contracts with Rockville lab for at least 7,500 coronavirus tests a week

County contracts with Rockville lab for at least 7,500 coronavirus tests a week

Will increase to 20,000 per week on June 8

| Published:

Montgomery County’s first state-hosted drive-thru coronavirus testing site opened on April 7 at the vehicle emissions facility in White Oak. The county expects to increase its testing capacity to 20,000 a week by June 8.

File photo

Montgomery County has entered a contract with a local molecular diagnostics laboratory to boost the county’s testing capacity to 20,000 per week starting June 8.

The contract, announced Thursday, is in its first phase, in which AdvaGenix in Rockville will initially provide at least 7,500 tests per week.

The self-administered oral swab tests, which AdvaGenix makes, can provide virus test results in less than 48 hours.

“The molecular testing will examine saliva collected by an oral swab or saliva tube to detect the presence of a virus,” according to a county press release. “The test identifies all three genes within the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome. Because it is an oral test, it can be self-administered, making it easier to conduct more tests in a less-invasive way and sites will need fewer staff.”

Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for the county’s health department, told Bethesda Beat in an email that she did not know if there was an end date for the contract.

The first phase will include testing first responders, nursing home and long-term facility staff and residents, and employees of the county’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.

During the second phase starting the week of May 31, testing will be expanded to essential county employees, hospital staff members and health care providers.

The last phase, which begins on June 8, will further expand the testing to begin for employees at essential businesses, such as grocery stores. The tests will also be made available to the general public based on test availability. The last phase will boost testing capacity to 20,000 per week.

Anderson wrote that the county will cover the cost of tests administered to residents who are uninsured.

“This partnership will help us get to the goal we have set of testing 5 percent of the population,” Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s health officer, said in the release. “This enables us to quickly test groups of people and expand testing overall so that we can have a truer picture of the virus in the community and help us make reopening decisions based on data.”

During a Wednesday media briefing, Gayles said the county has tested 3.4% of its population — close to 40,000 people. It’s currently providing nearly 1,000 tests a week.

The test positivity rate — the percentage of people who are tested and have a positive result — is 22% in the county, Gayles said on Wednesday. The county’s goal is to have less than 15% of tested residents receive positive results.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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