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Is Maryland offering antibody tests at new testing sites? #TheQandA

Maryland announced they're opening testing sites for asymptomatic people. That had some people confused. Is Maryland opening PCR testing sites or antibody testing?

WASHINGTON — Maryland will open testing sites for asymptomatic people starting Thursday. 

But the announcement had some people confused. Is Maryland opening PCR testing sites or antibody testing, and what’s the difference?

First, let’s clear up the different types of tests.

"One is a molecular test which tests against active infection," Infectious Disease Specialist  Dr. Linda Nabha said. "And then we have the antibody test - the blood test. What that test does is it tests our immune response to COVID."

Now that the types of testing are clear, let's go back to the first question. 

What kind of testing sites are Maryland opening up?

Credit: WUSA9
Dr. Linda Nabha is an infectious disease specialist working in Washington, D.C.

RELATED: Appointment-free coronavirus testing begins in Maryland on Thursday

Maryland is opening sites for molecular testing, which is also known as PCR testing. Those tests are available, for free, for people with and without symptoms. Antibody testing is not being offered at these sites.

So is there a plan to open similar testing sites in Virginia and D.C.?

During a press conference Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam addressed this very issue:

"I want to make sure people understand there are a few different ways that one can get tested," Northam said. "One is to go to your provider or your local clinic. Another is the community testing events that the Department of Health is organizing in targeted locations around the Commonwealth. While people who have symptoms are a priority. Everyone is welcome at test advanced as long as there are tests available."

RELATED: Gov. Northam addresses coronavirus testing options for Virginians

D.C. hasn't confirmed their plan for active infection testing for asymptomatic people. 

While other states like New York and California are offering universal antibody testing for COVID-19, Maryland says the MDH lab is working collectively with MDH epidemiologists to create an antibody testing platform as part of their overall COVID-19 testing strategy.

So far Virginia hasn't made plans to move in that direction. 

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