Information from the Maryland Department of Health regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Under Governor Larry Hogan’s direction, state agencies continue to develop comprehensive and coordinated prevention and response plans for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) will communicate directly with the public, providing updates as this situation develops and accurate information about how to protect yourself and your family.
Maryland Department of Labor- COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund
Maryland Department of Commerce- Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. COVID-19 a new virus that hasn’t caused illness in humans before. Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in thousands of human infections, causing illness and in some cases death. Cases have spread to countries throughout the world, with more cases reported daily.
Has COVID-19 spread to the U.S.?
COVID-19 has spread to the United States and has caused many people to become ill, and in severe cases, deaths. There is now confirmed community spread reported in many states in the U.S., including Maryland. “Community spread” means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
What is the risk to the public right now?
Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States is occurring, and experts expect that in the coming weeks and months, we can expect to see more cases in the U.S. and worldwide. Community spread is how the common cold and flu are transmitted — meaning people catch it from each other while going about their daily lives. Reported community spread of COVID-19 widely in the U.S. raises the level of concern about the immediate threat for the affected Communities.
Does anyone in Maryland have this new virus now?
Yes, Maryland has confirmed cases of COVID-19. On March 5, Gov. Hogan declared a state of emergency to further mobilize all available state resources. The declaration officially authorized and directed the MDH and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to ramp up coordination among all state and local agencies. The declaration also enables MDH and MEMA to fast-track coordination with our state and local health departments and emergency management teams.
What are risk factors for serious illnesses from COVID-19?
Older people, age 60 and above, and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Examples of pre-existing medical conditions include: cancer, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions impacting the immune system’s ability to fight germs.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is thought to be able to spread like the cold or flu through:
- coughing and sneezing, which creates respiratory droplets
- close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching an object or surface with the virus on it
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- Shortness of breath
- In more severe cases, pneumonia (infection in the lungs)
What should I do if I think I am sick with COVID-19?
If you become sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider, especially if you are over 60 years of age or have pre-existing medical conditions. If you do not have a health care provider, contact your local health department.
Follow these steps:
- Call your health care provider, local health department or emergency room before you go
- Tell them about your symptoms, any recent travel and close contacts (such as people in your household)
- Wear a mask, if one is available
If someone has COVID-19, what will happen to them?
The vast majority of people recover from this infection. Most people will have mild or moderate symptoms. Most people may be advised to recover at home and isolate themselves from others. These individuals should call their physicians or health care practitioners if their symptoms get worse. Some COVID-19 infections can lead to serious illness, and in some cases death. If someone has a more serious illness from COVID-19, they may be admitted to the hospital.
Should I cancel plans to travel abroad?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating travel advisories as warranted. At this time, CDC recommends that all persons defer any travel on cruise ships worldwide, including river cruises, because of the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission on board ships. Deferring travel is especially important for older adults and all people with serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease), because of their increased risk for serious illness. People who are at increased risk for serious illness are also advised to avoid nonessential air travel.
Should I wear a face mask when I go out in public?
No. Face masks are not recommended for the general public, though masks can be useful in some settings — such as in a hospital or clinic waiting room — to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others. The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a face mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A face mask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
What can I do to protect myself and others?
Take everyday preventive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve or your elbow
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using standard cleaning practices
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- If you are sick, stay home, except when seeking medical care
- Practice social distancing — keep distance between yourself and others and avoid crowds
What is social distancing?
The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through “social distancing,” which means avoiding close contact with others. Social distancing can take many forms, depending on your lifestyle and your family or living situation. Social distancing can include the following habits and steps:
- Avoid handshaking, hugging and other intimate types of greeting
- Avoid non-essential travel (your health care provider may have specific guidance for your situation)
- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces
- Avoid unnecessary errands — consider ways to have essential items, like food and other household supplies, brought to you through delivery services or through family or social networks
As a preventive measure to slow COVID-19 outbreaks, Governor Hogan has banned gatherings of more than 10 people, and closed restaurants, bars and movie theaters. Schools are also closed to avoid social contact with schoolchildren and staff. It is recommended that those at a high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 stay home as much as possible and contact their healthcare provider.
Is there a vaccine or medicine I can get for COVID-19?
Not yet, because COVID-19 is a new disease. However, many experts are at work developing one. As with any new vaccine, it must be tested to make certain it is safe and effective. It may take more than a year for a COVID-19 vaccine to become readily available. There is also no specific medicine currently available to cure COVID-19. However, people who have COVID-19 should seek medical care to help lessen the severity of their symptoms.
How can I be more prepared for COVID-19?
- Have an adequate supply of nonprescriptive drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines
- Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an adequate supply; refill your prescriptions if needed
- Have a thermometer, tissues and hand sanitizer in case you become ill and must stay at home to recover
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick and what will be needed to care for them at home
- Have a two-week supply of water and food available at home
Can I get tested for COVID-19?
Not everyone needs testing for COVID-19. If you have a fever and are experiencing a cough or shortness of breath, call your health care provider. They will ask you some questions to determine whether you need a test. Stay home and avoid close contact with others if you are feeling ill, unless your medical provider tells you to go for a test or come to the office for treatment.
Is there anything else I should know?
- Do not stigmatize people of any specific ethnicities or racial background. Viruses do not target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds.
- Stay informed and seek information from reliable, official sources.
- Be wary of myths, rumors and misinformation circulating online and elsewhere. Health information shared through social media is frequently inaccurate, unless coming from an official, reliable source such as the CDC, MDH or local health departments.
Are there additional resources available for specific groups, such as businesses?
The CDC provides current information about COVID-19.
If you have questions about COVID-19 that are not answered here, call your local
health department or dial 2-1-1.