What is coronavirus?
The coronavirus (Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)) is caused by a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) a new virus that hasn’t caused illness in humans before.
Worldwide, Coronavirus 2019 (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. Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has spread to the United States and has caused some people to become ill, and in severe cases, deaths.
Maryland has already experienced cases and the number is growing. For detailed Maryland information, go to the Maryland Department of Health website.
What are the symptoms?
- shortness of breath
How is coronavirus transmitted?
You can catch Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) if they breathe in droplets from a person with Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet away from a person who is sick.
How do I prevent getting coronavirus?
There is currently no vaccine to protect against Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), however, everyday preventive measures can reduce the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) and seasonal influenza. Everyone should take the following actions to reduce the spread of germs and protect against Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) and seasonal influenza:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then immediately discard the tissue in the trash and wash hands. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces including door handles and phones.
- Stay home when you are sick (at least 72 hours after there are no signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication).
Am I at risk of contracting coronavirus?
Currently, Marylanders are at a low risk of contracting coronavirus. Older adults (age 60+) and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a greater risk for serious illness, and in some cases death, if they become infected with Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Examples of pre-existing medical conditions include: cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions that impact the immune system's ability to fight germs.
Currently, people are at risk for contracting Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) who:
- recently traveled to geographic areas of concern
- have close, personal contact with a person diagnosed with Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
- care for people with Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
If you are an older adult or you have one and more chronic health conditions, you can take action to reduce your risk of exposure to Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19):
- take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
- when you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content
- avoid crowds as much as possible
Where can I get reliable, accurate information?
- Your local Health Department
- MD Department of Health
- CDC (Centers for Disease Control)
- WHO (World Health Organization)
How can I prepare?
- Have an adequate supply of over the counter 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 at home
This situation is making me anxious, what can I do?
- Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
- Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
- Call 211 or 1-866-411-6803 for a caring and supportive voice available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen and provide resources and information that help in the midst of a crisis and show the way forward. Services free of charge and available to EVERYONE.
What should I do if I think I have the coronavirus?
If you have recently traveled to any geographic area of concern or were in contact with someone with Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), and you become sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away. Follow these steps:
- Call your doctor or emergency room before you go or consider a virtual visit like offered by your insurance company or community health provider.
- Tell them about recent travel and close contacts (such as people in your household)
- Wear a mask, if one is available