- For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on location.
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Guidelines for COVID-19 as of March 10, 2020
Updated: March 12, 2020 By Kevin Dayhoff, Westminster Common Councilmember, Westminster Fire Department PIO and Chaplain and Maryland Troopers Association Lodge #20 Chaplain.
Westminster Maryland March 10, 2020 – Municipal, county, and state officials have been carefully monitoring local, national, and international developments regarding the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that first emerged in December 2019 in China's Hubei province.
On March 9 and 10th, 2020, I was putting together my column for the Carroll County Times for Sunday, March 14, 2020, “.” I came across a great deal of good information developed by a number of folks at the local, county, and state level, who working many long hours to protect the public’s health, safety, and well-being.
As we continue to monitor developments regarding the coronavirus, County, municipal, and state officials recognize that citizens may be negatively affected by impacts of this global outbreak.
As always, the focus of public officials is the health, safety and well-being of the citizens we serve. Our thoughts are also with those who have been impacted.
Our monitoring of events has included the coordinated response of the State of Maryland; and the work of Maggie Kunz, M.P.H., Health Planner, the communications lead with Carroll County Health Department, Valerie Hawkins, Carroll County Emergency Management Manager, and Chris Winebrenner, the Communications Manager with the Carroll County Government.
On March 5, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a State of Emergency in the State of Maryland. The state explained that COVID-19 is a potentially severe respiratory disease that can cause serious illness or death, caused by the person-to-person spread of a novel (new) coronavirus, which was not previously found in humans.
Perhaps some of the most important things citizens can do to prevent the spread of the disease is wash their hands, cover their coughs and sneezes, stay home when sick, and take other steps to prevent infections generally, including the seasonal flu that is widespread now.
At this point it is impossible for health authorities to predict the spread of COVID-19 and fully understand its impact, but this does not alter a public safety focus.
Finding credible sources of information has become increasingly important.
On March 10, 2020 the Carroll County Health Department reported, “Please note that this outbreak is changing very frequently and so answers to the questions … may also change. Make sure you get updated information from … reliable public health sources…:”
: , ,
and the : , and .
Other important web sites for information include:
Carroll County Health Department Facebook page:
For additional up-to-date information, please go to the Carroll County Health Department website: or call the “New COVID-19 Hotline for Carroll County: 410-876-4848” found on the website.
As of March 10, 2020, the latest information and guidance from the Carroll County Health Department may be found below:
Is testing available at local providers/labs?
Testing has begun at Lab Corps and should be available through other labs soon. Individuals can call their providers to see if they will be offering COVID-19 testing once it is available. Private lab testing is at the discretion of the provider.
What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19? Who should be tested for COVID-19?
●If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.
●If you are having symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and think you may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, call your health care provider. Be sure to tell them about your potential exposure. Based on your situation and current guidelines, they will assist you in getting the testing or care that you need.
●If you have general questions, call our COVID-19 line at 410-876-4848, staffed 8 am – 5 pm Monday-Friday. If program staff are not available at that time, please leave a detailed message and a good number for a call back and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also call the state hotline at 211 anytime.
Testing guidance from the CDC, updated 3/8/2020:
Criteria to Guide Evaluation and Laboratory Testing for COVID-19 Health care providers should work with their local and state health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories.
COVID-19 testing is becoming available in clinical laboratories. We hope to have more details about this process soon.
Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever and/or cough and/or difficulty breathing. Priorities for testing may include:
1. Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19
2. Other symptomatic individuals such as, older adults (age ≥ 65 years) and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).
3. Any persons including healthcare personnel, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact (within 6 feet for a prolonged period or having direct contact with infectious body fluids) with a suspect or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas (China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea) within 14 days of their symptom onset.
Mildly ill patients should stay home and contact their healthcare provider by phone for guidance about clinical management.
Patients who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek care immediately.
Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.
Is there a cost for COVID-19 testing?
Governor Larry Hogan issued a directive requiring all state health insurers to waive costs associated with testing for COVID-19. The directive, issued under the governor’s authority during a state of emergency, waives any cost-sharing, including co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles, in order to remove cost barriers to testing.
What is 2019 novel coronavirus COVID-19?
●The 2019 novel coronavirus is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. The disease has been named COVID-19.
●This new virus is part of a family of viruses that can affect humans and animals. They are called coronaviruses because they are shaped like crowns.
●Some coronaviruses make people mildly ill with respiratory illnesses like colds. Some medical testing includes these milder coronaviruses.
●Sometimes coronaviruses like COVID-19, SARS, and MERS can cause more serious illness.
How many cases of COVID-19 are there? Where are the cases of COVID-19 in Maryland?
●As of 3/11/2020, there are 9 cases of COVID-19 in Maryland. 94 people in Maryland have met the criteria to be tested for 2019-nCoV.
●Pending tests will no longer be reported, since private labs can now offer the test.
● *Please note these numbers are from the Maryland Department of Health website, which is updated daily at 10 am. http://health.maryland.gov/coronavirus
● For cases in the United States, visit coronavirus.gov
More details on MD cases:
● 5 cases are from Montgomery County
● 1 case is from Harford County
● 3 cases are from Prince George’s County
● All current Maryland cases are related to travel. There is currently no sign of community spread in Maryland.
● Notes about potential for spread in MD: After returning to the United States, and before being tested for the disease, one of the MD COVID-19 patients attended an event on Feb. 28 at The Village at Rockville on Veirs Drive, near Lakewood Country Club. Between 70 and 100 people were at the event. Anyone who was at the event, from noon to 6 p.m., should immediately contact their primary health care provider, Hogan said. Additionally, anyone who has visited the facility since and feels ill should seek medical care.
● A person from New Jersey who was diagnosed with COVID-19 was at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor; MDH recommends that members of the public who attended this event monitor themselves for symptoms of a respiratory infection including fever, cold-like symptoms, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Persons who attended this event should check their temperature twice a day and notify their health care provider and local health department if their temperature exceeds 100.4 or if they develop a respiratory illness. They should remain at home until they receive instructions about next steps from their health care provider or local health department.
Governor Hogan’s website has more information about Maryland cases: https://governor.maryland.gov/category/press-releases/
Current risk assessment from the CDC:
● Current risk assessment:
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly:
● Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
● Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
● It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients with COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
●shortness of breath
Patients with more severe complications have had pneumonia in both lungs.
How severe is COVID-19?
● Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. Scientists are working in countries with many cases to learn more about the severity of COVID-19.
● According to these recent studies, most people who get COVID-19 recover from their infection. Close to 80% of people will have mild or moderate symptoms.
● Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions may be at greater risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19. Examples of pre-existing conditions are cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that impact the body’s immune system.
How can I protect myself and my family?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. Simple actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
● Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
● If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
● Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
● Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
If you are sick:
● Stay home when you are sick, until you are fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine.
● Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
● Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Should I wear a mask to prevent COVID-19?
● No. The CDC does not currently recommend that people who are not sick wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
● You should only wear a face mask if a healthcare professional recommends it.
● Face masks may be used by people who may have COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
● Healthcare workers and caregivers of people with COVID-19 should wear face masks.
What are the recommendations for older adults and people with chronic illness who are at higher risk of getting very sick from 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.
● Avoid crowds as much as possible.
● Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
● During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
More details: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
Are children or pregnant women at higher risk?
We do not yet have information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience body and immune system changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Pregnant women also might be at risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared to the general population as observed in cases of other related coronavirus infections [including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)] and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, during pregnancy. Pregnant women should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection like washing hands often and avoiding people who are sick.
There is no evidence that children are more susceptible. In fact, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported from China have occurred in adults. Infections in children have been reported, including in very young children. From limited information published from past Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreaks, infection among children was relatively uncommon.
Children should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection, including cleaning hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding people who are sick, and staying up to date on vaccinations, including influenza vaccine.
How do they treat COVID-19?
● People infected with COVID-19 will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, but new treatments are being researched and developed.
Should I change my travel plans?
● The CDC recommends cancelling or postponing travel to some areas. For current travel recommendations, visit CDC’s Travel FAQs https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
● CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel at this time.
Can I get COVID-19 from my pet?
● No, at present there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or have spread COVID-19.
Is it safe to get packages or items from an affected country?
● Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
● Quarantine means separating people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed
● Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period
What is being done to prepare for the possible spread of COVID-19?
Since January, all Maryland state agencies have taken every precaution to prepare and mobilize resources to address COVID-19. Governor Hogan declared a State of Emergency in Maryland in order to access additional funds and resources.
The Maryland Department of Health is:
*coordinating with state, federal and local partners to lead response efforts and provide regular updates from federal partners
* issuing guidance to healthcare providers, EMS, and health departments
* preparing to test for COVID-19
* inventorying resources to meet healthcare and other needs that may arise
The Carroll County Health Department is following similar steps on a local level, working with our schools, colleges, businesses, government, and other agencies to keep information coordinated and consistent.
What can I do to prepare?
You can prepare for COVID-19 like you prepare for other possible community issues like winter storms or hurricanes.
● Have a two-week supply of food and water at home.
● Have an adequate supply of health supplies such as over the counter medicines, tissues, thermometers, fluids with electrolytes, and other items in case someone becomes sick. However, buy what you need for your family and leave supplies for others in your community to help everyone stay healthy.
● Check regular prescription drugs and refill if needed. NOTE: Due to Governor Hogan’s directive, state health carriers will now be required to waive any time restrictions on prescription medical refills, making it easier for individuals to obtain medications in advance of any quarantine.
● Talk with family and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they had to stay home due to illness.
● Stay informed and help others stay informed using reliable sources such as local and state health departments and the CDC.
● Find more tips on planning and preparing: Get Your Household Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
For more information:
Please note that this outbreak is changing very frequently and so answers to the questions above may also change. Make sure you get updated information from the reliable public health sources below.
Kevin Dayhoff for Westminster Common Council
Westminster Municipal election May 14, 2019
Authority Caroline Babylon, Treasurer.
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