CHESTERTOWN — The regional drive-through testing site for COVID-19 at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills is being replaced by individual sites in each of the five Mid-Shore counties beginning June 8, Kent County Health Officer William Webb told the Kent County Commissioners in his weekly update May 26.
The testing site for Kent will be at the County Roads headquarters at 709 Morgnec Road, Chestertown.
Hours are 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Wednesdays.
This is not a drop-in site. You must have an appointment; call the Kent County Health Department at 410-778-1350.
Testing will not be done as part of someone’s employment application or for pre-operative patients.
“We want to prioritize testing capability for those who have been exposed or who may be sick,” Webb told the commissioners.
The KCHD through the Maryland Department of Health has been able to procure testing kits and capability that previously was lacking, Webb said.
Webb said he anticipated that the KCHD would be providing testing on a short-term basis, a month to six weeks. He hoped this would give the private sector — health care providers, University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown and laboratories — time to “bring their [testing] capacity up to speed.”
The KCHD has been allocated 100 test kits per week, Webb said in a follow-up telephone interview June 2.
Webb told the commissioners the health department would continue to be available if outbreaks occurred or if hotspots in underserved areas of the county were identified.
As part of his report to the commissioners, Webb said the virus remains imbedded in the community. He anticipated that the infection numbers would continue to climb as the state moves toward reopening. With increased social interaction, the virus will have new hosts and new opportunities to spread, he said.
As of Monday, June 1, a total of 1,405 Kent County residents had been tested. This represents 5.8% of the county population, tied for the sixth highest testing rate in the state, Webb said.
Of the Kent residents tested in the last seven days, 12.2% tested positive, Webb said Tuesday. This is the third highest infection rate in the state, he said.
As of Wednesday, Kent had 178 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Webb told the commissioners the KCHD is still dealing with outbreaks in two Chestertown nursing homes, but the outbreak at the egg- producing poultry farm near Millington is no longer considered an outbreak.
Autumn Lake Healthcare has experienced the largest outbreak in the county with 59 confirmed cases and 18 deaths among residents. An additional 18 staff tested positive, but no deaths.
Webb said Tuesday that all the residents that tested positive have been released from isolation. Four employees have not been cleared by their physicians to return to work, he said.
Autumn Lake changed ownership in the midst of the public health crisis. As of May 13, the facility at 415 Morgnec Road is now Peak Healthcare at Chestertown.
There have been 45 cases at the Resorts at Chester River Manor: 34 residents and 11 staff. There have been 13 deaths, all residents.
All those at the Red Bird Egg Farm who tested positive are no longer infected and “the business is continuing to operate with the safety measures that have been implemented,” Webb told the commissioners.
As of Tuesday, there had been no reported outbreaks at the Kent County Detention Center, privately owed assisted living facilities and congregate living facilities.
Also under the heading of good news, Webb reported that personal protective equipment now is available in the open market — though the lead time is four to six weeks, so orders must be placed well in advance of need.
The KCHD has been able to scale back its role in providing PPE, serving mostly in a stopgap role for health care providers as they wait for supplies to be shipped.
The Kent County Office of Emergency Services also has backup inventory if needed, Webb said.
He told the commissioners that health care providers continue to use aggressive PPE conservation practices.
He said it is possible that “we could have shortages flare up again if the case counts go up.”
Contact tracing has shown that the majority of Kent’s cases are attributable to occupational exposure and transmission among household members. This likely will change as the community re-opens, Webb said.
He said the KCHD is in the process of hiring additional staff and there has been some internal realignment of staff because contact tracing has become a seven-days-a-week job. Also, the communicable disease nurses are being trained on a new information technology database system.