EASTON — A record number of COVID-19 tests were conducted statewide on Wednesday, Nov. 18, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Gov. Larry Hogan.

Fears about the virus, new government COVID orders and mandates and the approaching Thanksgiving holiday and family get-togethers have spurred a significant surge in testing in Maryland and other states.

There were 43,969 tests conducted in Maryland — the most of any day since the pandemic began in March. There were long-lines and extended wait times for testing on the Eastern Shore as well as in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore, Prince George’s County and other parts of the state.

“Yesterday, Maryland set a new record-high volume of tests (43,969). One of the most important things you can do to protect your friends and family is to get tested for COVID-19,” Hogan said via social media on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Testing surges in Maryland and across the U.S. coincide with the rise in reported COVID cases and worries about the virus after the 2020 election and as Thanksgiving approaches.

There were 1.5 million new COVID tests conducted nationally on Wednesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project. There have been close to 4 million COVID tests conducted in Maryland since March.

The testing surge is also happening on the Shore.

COVID testing in Queen Anne’s County, for example, is also on the rise with over 300 tested Wednesday, and a high turnout expected again Thursday. These numbers are up from the 100 or so they have been seeing each testing day.

Queen Anne’s County Health Department is not doing a rapid test, but they do recommend if someone gets a negative rapid test result to visit the health department for the PCR test which is more accurate. The average time to get results has been two days, but with the increase of testing statewide it may take a little longer to get results back, said Queen Anne’s Community Affairs Specialist Beth Malasky.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Queen Anne’s County was reporting 1,012 positive test results since the pandemic began, and last week they reported the first COVID related fatality since the beginning of summer.

Malasky attributes the rise in testing to people paying attention to the governor’s recent press conferences and also to anticipated travel for the holidays.

The state health agency reported 2,910 new COVID-19 cases across Maryland — the most of any day.

“Maryland is reporting 2,910 new cases of #COVID19, the largest number of daily new cases since the pandemic began. Our case rate has increased to 31.7 per 100K and total hospitalizations are now at their highest level since May,” said Hogan on Twitter on Thursday.

There were 48 new hospitalizations reported on Thursday statewide bringing the current total to 1,192.

MDH also reported the statewide positivity rate increased to 7.19%.

In Talbot County, the positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has dipped below the 5% benchmark on Thursday, Nov. 19, according to the local health department.

The local agency reported Talbot County’s positivity rate is at 4.99% on Thursday.

The rate of cases per 100,000 residents is 17.67%. The health department and Talbot County Public Schools — which went back to only virtual classrooms because of the recent COVID cases — want case rates below 15%.

Talbot County Health Department reported seven new COVID cases Thursday. There are 49 active cases locally.

The rise in reported positive COVID cases and positivity rates for tests has prompted new restrictions, orders and other actions by states and cities.

Many public schools — ranging from Talbot County to New York City — have gone back online only classes.

Hogan has ordered bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m., is restricting visits to nursing homes and has recommended against larger Thanksgiving get-togethers.

New York is also having restaurants and bars close at 10 p.m. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered a statewide 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in response to rising COVID fears.

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