What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) And How It Can Affect You?

COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been diagnosed in humans before the current worldwide health crisis.  COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019 and was proclaimed as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO).  

As of early June 2020, there have been over 6.8 million people who have tested positive for COVID-19 across the world, with the United States having the most cases (1.9 million) and the most COVID-19 related deaths (approx. 109,500) so far. 


COVID-19 is a virus that is:

  1. Undetectable to the eyes: You cannot tell who has COVID-19 by looking at them and many people who are infected are asymptomatic (i.e. do not show any symptoms at all).
  2. Highly Contagious:  It is estimated that one person with COVID-19 has the possibility of infecting up to at least four other people and the infection rate could double every six days.
  3. Can Live In the Air & On Surfaces:  Studies have found that COVID-19 virus particles can live up to three hours in the air and can live on plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard up to three days.

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.  According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 symptoms may appear 2 -14 days after exposure to the virus. Here is a list of common symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What should I do if I think I am sick with COVID-19?

  • Call your healthcare provider, local health department or emergency room before you go. 
  • Tell them about your symptoms, any recent travel, and close contacts (such as people in your household or friends). 
  • Wear a mask 

How Can You Prevent the Spread of COVID-19?

COVID-19: 7 Ways to Stop the Spread

Alternative Ways to Greet People

Do I Have to Wear A Face Mask?

Yes, due to the vast spread of COVID-19 in communities across the U.S., including all counties in Maryland, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. When you wear a cloth face mask, you protect others, and when others wear a cloth face mask, they protect you.


EXECUTIVE ORDER FROM MARYLAND GOVERNOR HOGAN: Effective April 18, 2020, all Marylanders are required to wear face coverings when inside retail establishments or when riding any form of public transportation in the state.  Read the order HERE


  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example, to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities, or talking with a small group of friends.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT buy or use a N95 facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

How Does COVID-19 Spread in Local Communities?

This is a real-life example of how one person who had COVID-19 (but was not having any symptoms), resulted in 16 positive COVID-19 cases and three deaths. (Source: Center for Disease Control & Prevention)

How Does COVID-19 Affect the Body?

This is a real-life example of how one person who had COVID-19 (but was not having any symptoms), resulted in 16 positive COVID-19 cases and three deaths. (Source: Center for Disease Control & Prevention)

Where Can I Get Tested For COVID-19?

People who are mildly ill should not go to emergency departments. If you have some symptoms of COVID-19 and are mildly ill, you should stay home and have your parent or caregiver call your doctor for guidance.  If you do not have a doctor, you can call 211 to get help. 

The information about testing below is from the State of Maryland’s COVID-19 resource website:


Where am I able to be tested? Whom do I contact?

Contact information for testing locations can be found below: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/symptoms-testing

Patients are encouraged to contact the site where they plan to be tested to learn about that site’s appointment procedures and other scheduling requirements. 

If you plan to test at a site listing “CRISP” as the point of contact, contact your health care provider and ask for your test order to be sent to CRISP. After the order is submitted, you will receive an email or text with an order confirmation code and instructions to schedule your appointment. After you schedule your appointment, you will receive a second email or text message confirming the appointment. 


What does the test consist of? What is the process?

Each laboratory has specific requirements for testing. Generally, the test involves a swab of inside the nose. If your health care provider recommends testing, your health care provider will inform you about what type of specimen needs to be collected. 


How long does it take to receive results?

How do people who are tested get their results? Generally, the results will be available within two to five days, depending on laboratory testing demands and resources.

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