While Maryland health officials await the test results for three potential cases of coronavirus in the state, Gov. Larry Hogan is urging residents to be proactive when it comes to their health.
“I would encourage all Marylanders not to panic, but to take this seriously,” Hogan said Thursday.
Hogan relayed guidance from the CDC, which recommends businesses, schools and communities ensure they have a plan of action for a potential outbreak. Plans should include businesses preparing to close offices and have employees work from home, if necessary.
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Schools should also have contingency plans for potential long-term closures, Hogan said.
The governor said communities throughout the state should be ready to postpone, reschedule or call off mass gatherings.
“There are the kinds of things that people should start planning for right now,” Hogan said.
Some D.C.-area school systems are doing just that. Prince George’s County, Maryland, schools are working to develop a response plan, and Fairfax County, Virginia, suspended all international field trips this week.
The University of Maryland is also acting accordingly, by suspending its study abroad programs in three countries in response to the spread of the virus. Towson University said it’s recalling all faculty, staff and students from its study-abroad program in Italy.
It doesn’t have any students in China.
In order to best protect themselves from coronavirus and other ailments, Dr. Fran Phillips, the Maryland Department of Health’s deputy secretary, said Maryland residents should consider things such as:
- Washing your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water
- Covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Staying home from work or school if sick
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Phillips also encouraged residents to put together an emergency preparedness kit, with the items necessary for treating an upper respiratory illness.
“Not unlike what recommendations are when we feel that there may be a storm coming and there may be some people who are temporarily remaining at home,” Phillips said.
Some what should be included in the kit, according to Phillips:
- Pain relievers, fever reducers, decongestants, and cough drops
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Facial tissues, paper products
- Nonperishable food
- Extended supply of prescription medications
- Diapers or pet supplies if needed
For more on the state’s plans and advice on how you can prepare for a potential outbreak, visit Maryland’s coronavirus website.
The coronavirus, which started in Wuhan, China, has infected more than 87,000 people globally. So far, there haven’t been any confirmed cases in D.C., Maryland or Virginia.
The first reported death from coronavirus in the U.S. occurred Feb. 29.
WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report.
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