ANNAPOLIS, MD—At this week’s Board of Public Works meeting, Governor Larry Hogan detailed the steps that Maryland officials are taking to respond to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in Asia.
While there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland, one individual has met the criteria for testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The individual is in good condition and remains in isolation pending the results of CDC testing.
“This morning, I received a thorough briefing from state health officials regarding our coordinated response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has become a major public health crisis in China,” said Governor Hogan. “At my direction, the state is taking every precaution to prepare and mobilize whatever resources are necessary to address the coronavirus. Our state government team is in close communication with federal officials and will continue to remain so on an ongoing basis. Maryland is fortunate to have some of the top health research facilities in the world, and I am confident in our state’s ability to respond to any potential cases of the virus, and I expect that we will be a leader in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine. While there is no need for immediate concern, we are taking this issue very seriously, and we encourage Marylanders to stay informed.”
The State Emergency Operations Center’s activation level has been raised to “Enhanced” in support of a local incident and novel coronavirus response in Maryland. The Maryland Department of Health has issued clinical guidance to the state’s 20,472 physicians, 2,786 nurse practitioners, 1,301 pharmacists, and local health departments. The department has held briefings for Maryland Strategic National Stockpile partners and public health and hospital emergency managers. In addition, the department has held an informational webinar for local health departments, and is scheduled to hold a preparedness webinar for healthcare facility infection leaders later today.
At the governor’s direction, MDH is coordinating with BWI Airport officials on protocols for incoming flights, as well as signage and notifications for travelers. The department has also worked with the CDC Quarantine Station to ensure a continued coordinated response for incoming travelers from China and other areas experiencing ongoing coronavirus transmission. MDH is coordinating with the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University to address concerns with their respective student populations. Local health departments are working with local colleges.
“The Maryland Department of Health is closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation with 2019-nCoV, both in the U.S. and in China,” said MDH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Fran Phillips. “As we learn more, Marylanders are encouraged to practice everyday actions to promote good health and to protect themselves and their loved ones from respiratory viruses like the coronavirus — wash your hands thoroughly, cover your cough, and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home from work or school if you’re not feeling well.”
MDH and its preparedness partners around the state, including the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), have a network of established communications and response protocols and resources to be activated should the need arise.
Commonly reported symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection include:
- Shortness of breath
While the exact incubation period for this coronavirus has not yet been determined, it is believed that most infected people will develop symptoms 2-14 days after they were exposed.
Many of the patients in the pneumonia outbreak caused by 2019-nCov in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.
There is no vaccine available for 2019-nCoV. In general, people can protect themselves and others against respiratory viruses by taking the following precautions:
- Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap & water
- Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Practice good health habits
While the influenza vaccine does not protect against coronavirus infection, it can help keep you healthy during the flu season.
Currently, testing for 2019-nCoV must be done at the CDC. Clinical laboratories do not have the ability to test for this particular virus, though they do have the ability to test for the other, more common coronaviruses.
People infected with the 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care. There is no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV.
Visit health.maryland.gov/coronavirus for additional resources and information.