To request COVID-19 testing for a suspect case, health care providers must contact the MDH Infectious Disease Bureau at 410-767-6700 during business hours and after hours call the MDH Emergency Call Center at 410-795-7365 to arrange the initial disease consultation.
COVID-19 testing can only be conducted with prior authorization from MDH physician–epidemiologists and is restricted to patients who meet the current CDC Criteria to Guide Evaluation of Patients Under Investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 case definition (CDC link; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/clinical-criteria.html. Do not collect and submit specimens to the MDH Laboratory until an infectious disease consultation with the MDH physician-epidemiologist has been conducted and approval has been obtained to provide testing for the case.
After the consultation, if COVID-19 testing is indicated and authorized, the MDH Laboratory will contact you or your institution’s laboratory to make any additional logistical arrangements needed for expedited testing. The Maryland Department of Health Laboratory will be testing locally using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel which has been approved for emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Updated Interim Guidance and Instructions for Submission of Specimens for Suspected COVID-19 Infections: Testing at the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Laboratory
Please note: At present (02/24/2020) the naming of the CDC 2019-nCoV real time PCR assay cannot be changed to SARSCoV-2 until a formal application is made to the FDA to modify the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) package insert for this assay.
- Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers: CDC-2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel
- Fact Sheet for Patients: CDC-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Specimen Collection and Shipping Guidance
Specimen Types – Collection of two specimen types, lower respiratory and upper respiratory, is recommended. Specimens should be collected as soon as possible once a PUI is identified regardless of symptom onset. Maintain proper infection control when collecting specimens. Refer to chart below for collection and storage instructions.