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COVID-19 Tests Scarce As Maryland Adds Nearly 7,000 New Cases

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maryland added 6,869 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, breaking the state's record for a single-day increase for the second time this week.

The state also added 40 hospitalizations, bringing the total number of patients to 1,505. That threshold means all hospitals must maximize bed capacity, scale back non-emergency procedures and transfer some patients to alternate care sites to make room for those sick with COVID-19.

"It seems to be spreading really quickly," Annapolis resident Moira Cyphers told WJZ.

As the state sees rising hospitalizations and infections, Marylanders are scrambling in search of at-home test kits, which have become increasingly tough to find.

"It seems like it's really hard to get your hands on a test," Cyphers said.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Where to get tested in Baltimore City

Many pharmacies and stores that typically carry the over-the-counter test kits say they've sold out. Local and state officials continue to try to address the demand.

David Coombs, a Baltimore resident, said he went to four CVS locations and two Walgreens before finding test kits for sale.

"We found tests at one store the other day, and they would only sell us one test," Coombs said.

The Annapolis Office of Emergency Management gave out 800 tests to residents free of charge on Thursday. Cars lined up as people waited to get their tests.

All of the tests were gone in just 30 minutes.

"We're encouraging people to stay vigilant," said Mary Kate Seborowski, a senior emergency management planner for the agency. "One of the ways to do that is to make sure you're getting tested."

"People are traveling for the holidays, so we knew there was a demand, and we tried to meet that demand with the community," she added.

The same thing happened when tests were distributed by the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore City earlier this week. Five-thousand tests were gone in minutes.

Those who were able to secure a test feel thankful they got one.

Cyphers said her children, ages 1 and 4, are unvaccinated, so getting a test was important, especially heading into the holidays.

"We want to celebrate Christmas with our family and we're trying to test with all of our family members coming over," she said.

Mayor Brandon Scott and health leaders said Wednesday that they are working to add more testing sites and provide more at-home tests to the community.

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