As of May 5, 2020, Maryland remains under stay at home orders, by which residents should not leave their homes unless for essential jobs or an essential reason such as obtaining groceries, medicine, medical care, or other necessities. While many states are beginning to loosen stay-at-home restrictions and many individuals here in Maryland are understandably becoming weary of staying in, it is important to remember that, while we may have successfully flatted the curve of the virus so as not to overwhelm our hospitals, we are still months, possibly years, away from a vaccine.
Maryland’s rate of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is still on the rise. As of May 5, 2020, Maryland had 27,117 confirmed cases and 1,290 confirmed deaths due to this disease. Montgomery County has 5,541 of these cases and has seen 292 deaths from the disease to date.
When Maryland’s cases taper off and restrictions are loosened, it is important to continue to take these five precautions, adapted from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), to reduce your risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
- Know the Facts – Understanding how the virus spreads is important to maintaining your own safety and that of those around you. We know that the virus spreads mainly from one person to another when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, producing respiratory droplets that land in the other person’s mouth or nose or are inhaled into the lungs. While it is not believed to be the main form of transmission, it is also possible that the virus can spread when someone touches a surface that has the virus on it and ten touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Wash your Hands– The CDC recommends washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Germs, and even the virus, can live on our hands for a short period of time after touching contaminated surfaces; and frequent hand-washing reduces the chances that you will touch your mouth, nose, or eyes with contaminated hands. It also reduces the chances of infecting others should you be carrying the virus with no symptoms.
- Practice Social Distancing– The CDC recommends avoiding crowds and standing six feet from other people to reduce the chances of spreading and contracting the virus through the transfer of respiratory droplets. Maryland currently is under orders to avoid crowds of more than ten people.
- Wear a Face Mask– The CDC recommends that most people should wear a cloth covering over their mouth and nose in public, so as to avoid spreading respiratory droplets to others. Exceptions are children under the age of 2, and people who are having trouble breathing, who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance for any other reason. In Maryland, cloth coverings are required in retail spaces and on public transportation.
- Clean and Disinfect Surfaces– The CDC recommends cleaning frequently touched surfaces every day. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. They recommend cleaning these surfaces with soap and water or detergent, and then using a disinfectant that meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria. A list of approved disinfectants can be found here.