Last updated: April 28, 2020
COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is a disease caused by a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This is a new virus that had not caused illness in humans before. Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in over a million human infections, causing illness and thousands of deaths. As the virus continues to spread, there have been cases reported in over 160 countries (according to WHO), including the United States.
The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is a global pandemic. The State of Maryland is operating under a state of emergency, and all levels of government are taking a comprehensive approach to keep Marylanders safe. For Maryland and Anne Arundel County confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, check the Maps. To slow the spread of COVID-19 and get the country back to normal, individuals will need to stay at home except for essential travel, practice social distancing when in public (at least 6 feet away from others), wear face covers in public, and take healthy hygiene measures including frequent handwashing.
Maryland’s recovery plan has four building blocks that must be solidly in place before the lifting of restrictions: an expanded testing capacity, increased hospital surge capacity, increased supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), and a robust contact tracing operation.
Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. Based upon available information to date, those most at risk include:
- People 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People of any age with the following underlying medical conditions, particularly those that are not well controlled
- Chronic lung disease or asthma
- Congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease
- Neurologic conditions that weaken ability to cough
- Weakened immune system
- Chemotherapy or radiation for cancer (currently or in recent past)
- Sickle cell anemia
- Chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Lack of spleen or a spleen that doesn’t function correctly
- Extreme obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40)
NOTE: No one is safe from contracting this virus. It is possible for young people, children and healthy individuals to get COVID-19 and spread it to others.
COVID-19 is spread just like colds 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
Symptoms (Most Common):
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- In more severe cases, pneumonia (infection in the lungs)
NOTE: Symptoms usually appear within 2-14 days from time of exposure. Sometimes there are no signs or symptoms. Infected people without symptoms can still spread the disease. If you have questions about your symptoms, call your health care provider.
Most people recover from this infection. Close to 80 percent will have mild or moderate symptoms. Most people who have mild symptoms are advised to recover at home and isolate themselves from others. These individuals should call their physician or clinic if their symptoms get worse. There is also no specific medicine currently to cure COVID-19 because it is a new disease. However, people who have COVID-19 should get medical care to lessen the severity of symptoms.
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. Older people and those with pre-existing medical problems have a greater risk for serious illness. Examples of pre-existing medical problems are cancer, diabetes, heart disease, COPD or other conditions impacting the immune system’s ability to fight germs.
There is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. So, it is important to take everyday preventive steps that are always recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses like colds, flu and 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.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using standard cleaning practices.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve, or your elbow.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay at home, unless you need to get medical care or essential items such as food and medicine.
- If you go out in public, wear a face cover to protect yourself and others. Face covers can be a face mask or any cloth item made from home, a scarf, a bandana or gaiter.
- In public, practice social distancing. Avoid crowds. It is best to provide at least 6 feet of space between individuals.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has confirmed COVID-19, call your primary care provider or the Anne Arundel County Department of Health COVID Health Line: 410-222-7256. Your symptoms will be evaluated and you will be led to the next steps, such as testing. If symptoms are severe and getting worse, call 9-1-1.
At this time, if you are not having any symptoms (asymptomatic), you will not be tested, due to limited resources. Please stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days.
- Mildly symptomatic patients (like fever or mild cough) who are otherwise healthy can self-quarantine, monitoring temperature and symptoms and check in with your medical provider as needed.
- Individuals who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek care immediately. Always call ahead to your medical provider or emergency department.
- Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness. In some situations, those patients will need to be evaluated in an emergency department. Always call ahead to your medical provider or emergency department.
Yes, Marylanders are advised to wear face coverings while out in public. Follow these guidelines on face coverings, how to use them and how to make a no-sew mask.
There is no COVID-19 home test kit on the market for sale. Anne Arundel County residents that suspect they have COVID-19 should contact their health care provider or the County Department of Health at 410-222-7256 to be evaluated for testing.
Currrently here is no evidence that pets and companion animals can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to people. However, if you have COVID-19, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick, just like you would with other people.
Although there have not been reports of household pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
If you must care for your companion animal or pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets. More information is available on how to keep animals and people safe.
- Have an adequate supply of over-the-counter drugs and other health supplies on hand. These could include pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
- Have at least a month’s supply of your chronic medications (like those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes). The Maryland Pharmacy Act, Sec. 12-506(c), allows a pharmacist, during a state of emergency, to refill a prescription for which a refill has not been authorized if: (1) the pharmacist is unable to obtain authorization from the prescriber; (2) the refill is not for a controlled dangerous substance; (3) the quantity dispensed does not exceed a 30-day supply or unit of use; and (4) the pharmacist notifies the prescriber of the refill within 7 days.
- Have a thermometer, tissues and hand sanitizer.
- Have a two-week supply of water and food in your home.
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
Yes, avoid all nonessential travel. When traveling for essential reasons, practice social distancing (at least 6 feet away from others), wear face covers in public, and take healthy hygiene measures including frequent handwashing and disinfecting surfaces.
- Do not stigmatize people of any ethnicity. People who have not recently traveled to China or other affected regions, and have not had close contact with a person who is ill with COVID-19, are at no greater risk of this disease than you. Viruses do not target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds.
- Stay informed and only get information from trusted, official sources. Be especially wary of myths, rumors, misinformation and scams circulating online and elsewhere. Health information spread on social media is frequently inaccurate.