HANOVER, Md. (WJZ) -- Anne Arundel County is giving out 100,000 at-home COVID-19 test kits ahead of the holidays as Maryland prepares for a potential winter surge, officials announced Tuesday.
The rapid test kits will be given to families free of charge at a series of distribution events held throughout the county over the next few days. The test kits will only be available while supplies last, and there's a limit of three kits per household.
"With COVID cases and hospitalizations increasing and the holidays upon us, we wanted to provide residents with easy, free access to at-home rapid tests," Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said. "I want to thank all of the partners who are helping us with distribution--getting these tests out into our communities will help us all celebrate the holidays safely."
At-home test kits have been hard to find in recent months as demand has outpaced supply. In Baltimore, residents were greeted by long lines Tuesday at a distribution event hosted by the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Some of them left emptyhanded.
The distribution comes as communities Maryland grapples with a growing number of COVID-19 cases and elevated hospitalizations. The state reports nearly 1,400 people are hospitalized and the positivity rate has doubled to 11.64%.
Pittman painted a similar picture of hospitals in Anne Arundel County, which he said have seen the number of COVID-19 patients they're treating balloon from the mid-40s to nearly 100.
"They have the tents set up that were to be used for overflow in the past and they're considering opening those if necessary," the county executive said. "The projections are that these numbers will continue to increase."
Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Anne Arundel County health officer, said the test kits will arm people with vital information about their COVID-19 status before they get together with loved ones for the holidays.
"These at home rapid tests give everyone an additional tool to protect themselves and their families," Dr. Kalyanaraman said. "Testing when you have symptoms, have been exposed to someone with Covid, or before you gather, decreases spread."
Officials urged residents to get the vaccine and booster shots if they haven't already done so, and to socially distance and wear masks when inside public places.
Below is a list of the times, dates and locations of the test-kit distribution events:
- Annapolis Exchange, 1955 Annapolis Exchange, Annapolis. Kits will be available for pickup Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 8am-11am. Kits will not be distributed on Friday, Dec. 24.
- Baymeadow parking lot, 6701 Baymeadow Drive, Glen Burnie. Kits will be available for pickup Tuesdays/Thursdays from 8am-11AM.
- Maryland Live! Casino and Hotel, 7002 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover. Kits will be distributed from 12noon - 5pm starting Wednesday, Dec. 22 through Friday Dec. 24, while supplies last. Operations will resume on Monday, Dec. 27, with the intention of running through Thursday, Dec. 30. Residents can enter using the outside ramp to the event center located on the Hotel side of the building.
- Westfield Annapolis, 2002 Annapolis Mall, Annapolis. Kits will be available beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 21. For information on the mall's test kit distribution, visit https://www.westfield.com/annapolis.
- Arundel Mills, 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover. Kits may be picked up at guest services or the mall office.
- Anne Arundel County Public Libraries. Kits will be distributed at all locations during operating hours.
- Anne Arundel County Fire Department. Kits will be distributed from 10am-6pm starting Tuesday, Dec. 21 through Thursday, Dec. 23.
- Fire Station 33, 15 Central Ave., Glen Burnie
- Fire Station 3, 3123 Riva Rd, Riva
- Fire Station 12, 161 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park
- Fire Station 27,3498 Fort Meade Rd, Laurel
- Anne Arundel County government offices. Kits will be distributed at building security desks from 12pm-4pm on Tuesday, Dec. 21, and 9am-4pm Wednesday, Dec. 22 through Thursday, Dec. 23.
- Heritage Office complex, 2662 Riva Road, Annapolis.
- County Government Building, 1 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis.
- Henry L. Hein Public Service Building, 7480 Baltimore and Annapolis Blvd, Glen Burnie.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department, which was distributing kits at four locations, said Tuesday it has already run out of supplies.
for more features.