Leonardtown, MD – March 11, 2020 – While most people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, will experience mild symptoms similar to a cold or the flu, certain populations are at higher risk of getting very sick. Adults 60 years and older or those with chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes) seem to be at highest risk of complications. However, there are measures these persons can take to reduce the risk of getting sick.

How to prepare:

• Contact your healthcare provider and pharmacy to get extra supply of your prescription medications in case you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time

• If you cannot get extra medications from a local pharmacy, consider using mail-order for medications

• Be sure to have over-the-counter medicines and supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms – most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home

• Have enough household items and groceries on hand to prepare for staying at home for a period of time
People at higher risk of complications should also take everyday precautions to

Avoid exposure:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick – stay at least six feet away

• Wash your hands often using soap and water 

  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

• Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands

• To the extent possible, avoid contact with high-touch surfaces in public areas (elevator buttons, door handles, and handrails) – Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your fingers if you must touch something

• Avoid crowds – your risk of exposure may increase in crowded, closed-in settings

• Clean and disinfect your home, especially frequently touched surfaces (tables, doorknobs, light switches, faucets, cell phones, etc.)

• Avoid all non-essential travel, including plane trips, and especially avoid cruise ships

• Stay home as much as possible

• Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social or commercial networks so you can avoid frequent trips to crowded grocery stores

• Make sure to have a plan in case you get sick

  • If you have a caregiver, discuss a plan for who would care for you if they get sick.
  • If you are a caregiver, have a plan in place to continue care if you get sick.
  • Watch for potential COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath
  • If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your family doctor; or use 9-1-1 for a medical emergency
  • Try to call ahead to health care providers before visiting their office

For more information about COVID-19 and high-risk populations, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The Maryland Department of Health has also issued FAQs for Older Adults. Community members, healthcare providers, and local business owners are encouraged to visit the St. Mary’s County Health Department’s website for updates and information at www.smchd.org/coronavirus.