COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

What is Meritus Health Doing about COVID-19?

Meritus Health is doing all we can to stay informed and prepared. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we will continue to monitor the latest developments and update procedures and policies as necessary.

  • Our Infection Prevention team and hospital leaders are meeting frequently to ensure we are prepared to safely identify, isolate and care for patients who meet the latest CDC criteria for COVID-19 testing.
  • Samples from Meritus Health patients for COVID-19 testing are being submitted to Meritus Medical Laboratory on an ongoing basis.
  • We have a coronavirus command center to provide staff, local health care providers, local nursing homes and others with information and guidance.
  • Meritus Health has launched a public coronavirus care line (301-790-9170) offering the community to call for clinical guidance.
  • Meritus Health has implemented numerous changes to the visitor policy to adhere to Governor Hogan’s public mandate.

Should I still receive care at Meritus Health?

Yes. At Meritus Health, there are many infection control and management measures in place at all times. The hospital continues to operate 24/7 for emergency care and other non-elective procedures and operations, including labor and delivery, stroke care, cardiac care and end-of-life care.

Our top priority is to provide safe, high-quality care for our patients.

Click here for information on COVID-19 with Maulik Joshi, Ph.D., CEO at Meritus Health.

The Basics

What is COVID-19? Is it the same thing as “Coronavirus?”
Corona-viruses are a group of viruses that have a halo or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under a microscope. These viruses are a common cause of mild to moderate upper respiratory illness in humans and are associated with various diseases in animals.

COVID-19, initially referred to as “novel coronavirus,” is a condition caused by a type of coronavirus that was previously unrecognized but has now been named COVID-19. It can cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms; see below for more on symptoms. We also recommend visiting the CDC and the World Health Organization online for more information about COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 Symptoms

COVID-19 Symptom Illustration

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure, but it’s important to remember that very few respiratory infections will be COVID-19.

Should I wear a face mask or surgical mask in public?

Per Maryland Strong, Roadmap to Recovery, the document from Governor Larry Hogan's office that offers direction for the state, :the best current science shows that, while you might not be showing symptoms, you might still be a carrier of COVID-19. Because there is no vaccine or effective treatment for the virus at this time, the best practice is to wear cloth face-coverings while in public, indoor places."

The CDC also "recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain." For prevention tips, see below or click here.

What should I do if I think I or someone in my family have COVID-19 symptoms?

  • For mild symptoms, including fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and managing your health at home, follow the recommended steps from the CDC.
  • If you have severe symptoms, or you have underlying conditions, such as a weakened immune system or chronic respiratory disease, call your family physician or our COVID care line at 301-790-9170.
  • Call ahead before you visit any care center and let them know that you think you may have COVID-19.
  • Stay home when possible; separate yourself from other people and animals at home. Although there have not been reports of animals becoming sick with COVID-19, the CDC still recommends people with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
  • Be vigilant about practicing virus prevention, including proper hand hygiene and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. See "Prevention Steps" below.
  • Wear a face mask or covering during close contact with others; close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of someone else. For those who are sick, a mask can reduce the number of droplets coughed into the air.

I might have been exposed. What should I do?

If you have had close contact (within 6 ft.) with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, the CDC advises people who have no or mild symptoms to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after their last potential exposure.

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

Effective Monday, May 11, anyone who does not currently have symptoms of the coronavirus, but suspects or is concerned he/she has been exposed, may visit one of two Meritus Health screening centers and be tested for COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Current understanding about how COVID-19 spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. COVID-19 is a new disease, and there is more to learn about how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

  • Person-to-person spread: 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) and 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 eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging, because of poor survivability of other coronaviruses on surfaces. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods, but there is still a lot that is unknown about how the newly emerged COVID-19 spreads.