Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease caused by a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. COVID-19 is a new virus that hasn’t caused illness in humans before. Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in millions of infections, causing illness and in some cases death. Cases have spread to countries throughout the world, with more cases reported daily.
How it spreads
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- 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.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects
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.
Risk of Exposure
- There is active community spread of COVID-19 in Cecil County. With community spread, everyone is at some risk for COVID-19, and everyone is expected to stay at home as much as possible and take precautions.
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with the level of 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 international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with level of risk dependent on where they traveled.
Risk of Severe Illness
Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
- Older adults, with risk increasing by age.
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
When to seek emergency medical attention
Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
There are currently two vaccines approved for emergency use for COVID-19. Click here to learn more about vaccination.
Social Distancing & Use of Face Masks
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting closely or frequently enough to spread an infectious disease. Social distancing can take many forms, depending on your lifestyle and your family and work situation. Social distancing can include the following habits and steps:
- Avoid handshaking, hugging and other intimate types of greeting
- Avoid non-essential travel (your health care provider may have specific guidance for your situation)
- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces
- Work from home if possible for your work situation
- Avoid unnecessary errands — consider ways to have essential items, like food and other household supplies, brought to your house through online delivery services or through family or social networks
- Wear a cloth mask when out in public.
Those at Higher Risk of Becoming Seriously Ill from COVID-19: Older Adults and Individuals with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
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 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.
If you are an older adult or have one or more pre-existing medical conditions, you can take action to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19:
- Practice social distancing: Take everyday precautions to keep space (at least 6 ft) between yourself and others
- Stay home as much as possible: 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
- Use a mask and avoid crowds as much as possible
Considerations for who should get tested:
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
- People who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
- People who have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot socially distance as needed, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings.
- People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider or health department.
- Not everyone needs to be tested. If you do get tested, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional.
Click here for upcoming testing events in Cecil County.
Treatments used for COVID-19 should be prescribed by your healthcare provider. People have been seriously harmed and even died after taking products not approved for COVID-19, even products approved or prescribed for other uses.
Drugs Approved or Authorized for Use
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, remdesivir (Veklury), to treat COVID-19.
- The FDA can also issue emergency use authorizationsexternal icon (EUAs) to allow healthcare providers to use products that are not yet approved, or that are approved for other uses, to treat patients with COVID-19 if certain legal requirements are met.
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed and regularly updates Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon to help guide healthcare providers caring for patients with COVID-19, including when clinicians might consider using one of the products under an EUA.
Treatment Outside of the Hospital
If you receive a positive test result for COVID-19 and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, your healthcare provider may recommend that you receive treatment.
- For people at high risk of disease progression. The FDA has issued EUAs for two investigational monoclonal antibodies that can attach to parts of the virus. These antibodies could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus.
- Bamlanivimabexternal icon and casirivimab plus imdevimabexternal icon are available under FDA EUAs for patients at high risk of disease progression and severe illness. Preliminary data suggest that some outpatients may benefit from receiving anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies early in the course of infection. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon find that, to date, there are insufficient data from clinical trials to recommend for or against these treatments and these treatments should not be considered standard of care.
Your healthcare provider also may recommend the following to relieve symptoms and support your body’s natural defenses.
- Taking medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce fever.
- Drinking water or receiving intravenous fluids to stay hydrated.
- Getting plenty of rest to help the body fight the virus.
Treatment in the Hospital
Your healthcare provider will decide on what approach to take for your treatment. There are drugs that have shown some benefit in reducing the severity of illness or risk of death for patients in the hospital by:
- Slowing the virus. Antiviral medications reduce the ability of the virus to multiply and spread through the body.
- Reducing an overactive immune response. In patients with severe COVID-19, the body’s immune system may overreact to the threat of the virus, worsening the disease. This can cause damage to the body’s organs and tissues. Some treatments can help reduce this overactive immune response.
- Dexamethasoneexternal icon is a steroid medication, similar to a natural hormone produced by the body. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon recommend dexamethasone, or a similar medication, to prevent or reduce injury to the body for some hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Dexamethasone is recommended for patients who need supplemental oxygen.
- Treating complications. COVID-19 can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs. It also can cause other complications. Depending on the complications, additional treatments might be used for severely ill hospitalized patients, such as blood thinners to prevent or treat blood clots.
- Supporting the body’s immune function. Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19—called convalescent plasma—can contain antibodies to the virus. This could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus, but currently the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon find there is not enough evidence to recommend these treatments.
Vaccines help protect against serious illness from COVID-19. Due to limited supply vaccines are being administered by priority group. Click here to learn more about COVID-19 vaccination.