Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on April 29 introduced an expanded testing strategy and aggressive new actions to address outbreaks of COVID-19 at poultry processing plants in the state.
Revealing his plans at a press conference, Hogan, at the same time announced plans that also call for expanded testing at other COVID-19 cluster areas, such as nursing homes.
As Maryland continues to plan for the recovery phase, the state will target and isolate outbreaks and clusters of cases, redouble attention and resources on hotspot areas, and increase mitigation efforts to stop the spread of the virus in other areas of the state.
“We are no longer just playing defense — we are going on offense against this virus, attacking from every angle with everything we’ve got,” Hogan said. “We are exponentially expanding our testing capacity, enabling us to attack the most acute outbreaks, clusters, and hotspots, including nursing homes, and to provide additional testing for our healthcare workers and first responders.”
Dealing with poultry processing plant outbreaks
Following a call with the White House, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Delaware Gov. John Carney, and 15 other governors, Hogan announced that he has activated a multi-state, multi-agency operation to address outbreaks at Delmarva poultry processing plants.
Currently, Maryland has 262 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 associated with poultry workers, which is why the case rate per hundred thousand in Wicomico County is among the highest in the state, nearly equal to Baltimore City and higher than Baltimore County.
The state has dispatched epidemiologists to the affected areas to focus on testing support, contact tracing, occupational health, communications and outreach. In order to enhance testing capability, Wicomico County will open a testing site at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, specifically to test workers at the Perdue plant in Salisbury and the Amick Farms processing plant in Hurlock.
The state has deployed a Maryland Incident Management Team to support this operation, and there will be a FEMA liaison and CDC team on the ground to provide assistance.
Expanded testing strategy
Following the acquisition of 500,000 tests from South Korea and progress with increasing lab capacity and materials, Maryland is launching an expanded testing strategy focused on high-priority outbreaks and clusters, including nursing homes, health care workers, and first responders, as well as community-based testing in areas with higher concentrations of cases — including an expansion of drive-thru sites at Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations, and a new testing site at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury.
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