COVID-19 in Maryland: Resources & FAQs

Everyone should refer to the MDH website dedicated to COVID-19 (health.maryland.gov/coronavirus). Case counts are updated every morning at 10 a.m. This will keep you informed about the number of cases being tested and the results, as well as up-to-date CDC guidance. 

Marylanders are also advised to dial 2-1-1 to talk to experts about any questions or concerns related to COVID-19.

Business and Employee Resources can be found HERE.

INFORMATION AS OF MARCH 12, 2020

UPDATE FROM ANNAPOLIS: Due to coronavirus, the House of Delegates has adopted a “no receptions” rule effective this Friday, March 13th AND a “sponsor only” public hearing rule beginning next week. Citizens wishing to submit testimony may email written testimony to our office and we can upload it for them in advance of the committee hearing. My colleagues in the General Assembly and I have been in constant contact with the Maryland Department of Health, who put together this FAQ bulletin that I wanted to share with you.

The most up-to-date information about the novel coronavirus can be found at coronavirus.gov  and on the Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 website.

UPDATE FROM BALTIMORE CITY: Mass gathering guidelines, effective immediately, ask event organizers to consider both the number of people attending the event, as well as specific features of the space the event is being held.

  • Large events (more than 250 people): Event organizers should consider canceling or postponing the event.
  • Medium events (100-250 people):  Consider the following recommendations when determining event cancellation or postponement: 
    • Size: Smaller is better. Smaller events can limit the spread of illnesses through communities. 
    • Density: If the venue or setting doesn’t enable people to keep social distance (more than arm’s length of one another), the risk of spreading the virus increases. People should avoid crowded places where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another.
  • Small events (<100 people):  Event organizers should urge anyone who is sick to not attend, encourage those who are at higher risk for serious illness to not attend, find ways to give people more physical space and reduce close contact as much as possible.

For the entire COVID-19 Guidance for Mass Gatherings, please visit Baltimore City Health Department website at : https://health.baltimorecity.gov/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov.

UPDATE FOR SCHOOLS: ALL SCHOOLS CLOSED Monday, March 16 – Friday March 27

UPDATE FOR BUSINESSES:  Here are some resources that may be helpful to you – 

  • The U.S. Department of Labor has developed some guidelines for how companies can prepare their workplace for COVID-19. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a COVID-19 website with information specifically for workers and employers.  There is also information on issues relating to wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act available here. 
  • The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Labor and Industry enforces the Maryland Health Working Families Act, also known as safe and sick leave, which may be useful for employees who need to take off from work due to COVID-19. To learn more about the law, email ssl.assistance@maryland.gov or call 410-767-235. 
  • If a business experiences a temporary or permanent layoff, Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance’s Bulk Claim Services can open unemployment insurance claims for all affected employees. Businesses should contact a Claims Representative by emailing dluibulkclaims-dllr@maryland.gov or calling (410) 767-3252. 
  • The Maryland Insurance Administration has also put together an FAQ addressing insurance-related questions about coronavirus.
  • President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide low-interest loans to companies affected by the outbreak, and that he will ask Congress to increase funding for the SBA lending program to $50 billion. 

The Governor and the legislature are working hard on emergency legislation and funding to address the virus. The Governor is staying in close touch with Vice President Pence, and federal leaders are continuing to develop plans to stimulate the U.S. economy and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. State agencies including the Department of Commerce are prepared to fully serve our clients in the business community, even if we must work remotely. Maryland is still “Open for Business.”

Five Steps to Prepare for COVID-19

Infectious disease experts say most cases of COVID-19 are mild to moderate, like the common cold. But it can be more severe in older adults and people with chronic health conditions. There are simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family.

#1 – Make a plan – Create a plan for school, work and home.

  • Make a list of organizations that can help if you become sick. 
  • Join a neighborhood website or social media page to stay updated on the latest news in your area. 
  • Create a care plan for at risk family members, such as older people and people with chronic health conditions. 

#2 – Prepare as you would for a winter storm

  • There is no need to buy large quantities of supplies. But, it’s good idea to pick up a few extra items each time you go to the market or pharmacy. That way, you’re prepared and can avoid crowds.
  • Pick up some extra foods like canned goods, dry pasta, and peanut butter.
  • Have soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, and fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen on hand.

#3 Get ready for possible changes in daily schedules

At school: Make plans to care for your children if schools are closed temporarily. Just like you would for snow days. Make plans for alternate after-school care in case they are closed temporarily.

At work: Ask to work from home or take leave if you or someone in your household gets sick, or if your child’s school is temporarily closed.

#4 – Stay informed

  • Stay connected on your state and local health department’s social media pages and websites for timely and accurate COVID-19 information.
  • Accurate and up-to-date information is available from the State Health Department at https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Novel-coronavirus.aspx, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website and social media platform at www.coronavirus.gov  
  • If you decide to attend a public event, practice good health habits:
    • Try to keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and others at the event.
    • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
    • Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
    • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails.

#5 – Prevent the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19
Everyone should:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before you eat.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and discard in a closed container.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

For people who are sick:

  • Stay home.
  • If you have a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines, such as acetaminophen.
  • Keep sick household members away from others. 
  • Use soap and water, bleach and-water solution, or EPA-approved household products. You can make your own cleanser with a mixture of 1 cup of liquid unscented chlorine bleach in 5 gallons of water. 
  • Avoid sharing personal items.
  • Anyone at high risk for complications should talk to their health care provider for more information. 

FAQs

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 some people to become ill, and in severe cases, deaths. While most of the confirmed cases have been from people who have traveled internationally to countries with a lot of cases of COVID-19, there has been some community spread reported in the U.S. “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?

It is likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. Experts expect that 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 in 2 parts of 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 currently 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.

Up-to-date information about testing and case counts in Maryland are available at health.maryland.gov/coronavirus. The page is updated daily.

Who is at risk right now? Currently, people are at risk who:

  • Recently traveled to geographic areas of concern
  • Have close, personal contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Care for people with COVID-19

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?

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • 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 have recently traveled to any geographic area of concern or were in contact with someone with 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
  • Tell them about 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

3 symptoms. Some 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. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a greater risk for serious illness. Examples of pre-existing medical conditions are: cancer, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions impacting the immune system’s ability to fight germs.

Should I cancel plans to travel abroad?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating travel advisories as warranted. CDC has advised against nonessential travel to some geographic areas of concern. Those with underlying health conditions are advised to avoid nonessential travel to certain areas as well.

Visit the CDC travel advisory site to check on current travel warnings if you are planning a trip

abroad: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

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 facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a facemask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask 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 facemasks 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 that are always recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses like colds and flu:

  • 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

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

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, reliablesource such as the CDC, MDH or local health departments.

Are there additional resources available for specific groups?

The CDC provides current information about COVID-19 at www.cdc.gov

Weekly Updates – To receive the weekly email about COVID-19, enter your email address and type “COVID-19” in the search box at this URL:https://tools.cdc.gov/campaignproxyservice/subscriptions.aspx?topic_id=USCDC_2067

Businesses

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html

Pregnant Women, those who are breastfeeding, and children

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/pregnant-women.html

Schools

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html

Travelers

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html