Black Lives Matter demonstration in Chestertown, Maryland June 7. Photo by Susie Fordi

Gov. Larry Hogan marked the 16th day of protests around the nation Wednesday for the “senseless murder of George Floyd” with a plea to Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Maryland to get tested for COVID-19.

The plea comes after days of large gatherings and protests where social distancing was hard to maintain when large crowds assembled peacefully.

“The senseless murder of George Floyd shed new light on old wounds that have not healed and serious problems that need to be confronted and addressed.”

“Public health officials do have serious concerns, however, about the dramatic, immediate end to physical distancing and the potential public health impact of going from 25-person gathering limits to thousands of people gathering together in close proximity.”

He said health officials see a risk of a 250 percent increase in infections as a result of the large gatherings. He implored anyone who attended the protests and vigils in the last two weeks to get tested immediately and avoid contact with the elderly or people with underlying health conditions.

Chestertown had four gatherings in recent days and on Monday the Kent County Health Department opened a new testing site at the county roads department at 709 Morgnec Road. Drive-thru testing is conducted on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon up until July 1. Tests are made by appointment by calling 410-778-1350 and is only available to Kent County residents.

In a brief phone interview Thursday, Kent County Health Officer Bill Webb said that the testing site would ramp up and modify its schedule to meet the demand of more testing if needed.

“We’re here to serve our citizens,” he said. “If people feel they need to get tested we will make sure that it’s available, we can certainly expand to additional days for testing.”