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Coronavirus: About the Virus

How to Get Tested

People who are mildly ill should not go to emergency departments. Mildly ill people should stay home and contact their health care provider by phone for guidance. Individuals who are exhibiting symptoms and would like to be tested for coronavirus must first contact their doctor. Like all laboratory tests, testing for COVID-19 is a clinical decision made by a health care provider. We expect drive-through testing sites to be available in Maryland soon. Please visit health.maryland.gov/coronavirus for testing updates.

If you have specific medical questions, please contact your physician or local health department:

Information from the State of Maryland
Information for Baltimore County residents
Information for Baltimore City residents
Information for Howard County residents
Information for Anne Arundel County residents
Information for Harford County residents

About the Virus

The Centers for Disease Control has information on the coronavirus that you can find here. You can sign up for the CDC's email updates here.

For confirmed coronavirus cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and, in rare circumstances, death for patients in compromised states of health. For most cases, there is a low mortality rate. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days up to 14 days after exposure.

The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can be infected 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. People are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest. Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.

There is not currently a vaccine to prevent coronavirus. The most effective way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • 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. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe;
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).