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Frequently Asked Questions

It can be difficult to understand all the facts about COVID-19. There can be lots of misinformation, and we are learning more about the virus as we go. Below are frequently asked questions that can help you better understand the risks of the virus and how to best protect yourself and your community.

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FAQs about COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people can become severely ill. Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Older people and those who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and effective.

What is the current COVID-19 situation in Maryland?

Up-to-date information about testing and case counts in Maryland is available at coronavirus.maryland.gov. The page is updated daily.

On June 15, Governor Larry Hogan announced the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency in Maryland. All emergency mandates and restrictions terminated on July 1. Read the order ending the state of emergency.

Information about the Hogan administration’s ongoing response to COVID-19 is available here.

What are risk factors for serious illness from COVID-19?

Everyone is at risk for COVID-19. However, symptoms can range from mild to severe and may have different complications for each person. Older people, age 60 and above, and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Examples of pre-existing medical conditions include cancer, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions impacting the immune system’s ability to fight germs.

While older people and those with pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk, current ​MDH data shows that the majority of infections are in adults under 60​ years of age. People of all ages need to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:

  • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
  • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms, or combinations of symptoms, that may appear 2-14 days after exposure include:

  • 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?

If you become sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider, especially if you are over 60 years of age or have pre-existing medical conditions. If you do not have a health care provider, contact your local health department. Follow these steps:

  • Call your health care 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)
  • Wear a mask

If someone has COVID-19, what will happen to them?

The vast majority of people recover from this infection. Most people will have mild or moderate symptoms. Most people may be advised to recover at home and isolate themselves from others. These individuals should call their physicians or health care practitioners if their symptoms get worse.

Some COVID-19 infections can lead to serious illness, and in some cases death. If someone has a more serious illness from COVID-19, they may be admitted to the hospital.

Should I make plans to travel?

The CDC recommends people delay travel until they are fully vaccinated.

Some people should not travel. People who are sick, have recently tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 pose a very high risk to others during travel.

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, take preventive measures to protect yourself and others, such as getting tested before and after travel and wearing a mask for the duration of your trip. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

All international air passengers traveling to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

For additional travel resources and guidance, visit the CDC travel advisory site.

What can I do to protect myself and others?

Take preventive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Get vaccinated – Visit covidvax.maryland.gov to find a vaccination clinic near you
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve or your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect​ ​frequently touched objects and surfaces using standard cleaning practices
  • Practice social distancing — keep distance between yourself and others and avoid crowds
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • If you are sick, stay home, except when seeking medical care

Are there vaccines available to prevent COVID-19?

There are authorized and recommended vaccines to help prevent and protect against serious illness from COVID-19.

Learn more at COVID-19 Vaccine and FAQs about the Maryland COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and COVID-19 Vaccination.

What treatments are available for COVID-19?

People who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and have only mild to moderate illness may be eligible to receive monoclonal antibody treatment without being admitted to a hospital. Monoclonal antibody treatment is not a cure, but it may lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and help keep high-risk patients out of the hospital. Learn more about Monoclonal Antibody Treatment.

How can I be more prepared for COVID-19?

  • Have an adequate supply of non-prescriptive drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines
  • Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an adequate supply; refill your prescriptions if needed
  • Have a thermometer, tissues and hand sanitizer in case you become ill and must stay at home to recover
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick and what will be needed to care for them at home
  • Have a two-week supply of water and food available at home

Can I get tested for COVID-19?

State officials encourage anyone who wants to be tested for COVID-19 to get tested, including people who do not have symptoms​.

For more information about COVID-19 testing and a list of testing sites in Maryland, please visit covidtest.maryland.gov​​.

Will the Maryland Department of Health test animals for coronavirus?

In accordance with current federal guidelines, the Maryland Department of Health will not be testing the general companion animal population. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Since the situation is ever-evolving, public and animal health officials may decide to test certain animals out of an abundance of caution. The decision to test will be made collaboratively between local, state and/or federal public and animal health officials.

For more information, please visit the AVMA COVID-19 website and CDC COVID-19 and Animals FAQs.

Is there anything else I should know?

Do not stigmatize people of any specific ethnicities or racial background. ​ ​Viruses do not target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds.

Stay informed and seek information from reliable, official sources. Be wary of myths, rumors and misinformation circulating online and elsewhere. ​ ​Health information shared through social media is frequently inaccurate, unless coming from an official, reliable source such as the CDC, MDH or local health departments.

Are there additional resources available for specific groups, such as businesses?

The CDC provides current information about COVID-19 at ​cdc.gov​.

To receive weekly emails about COVID-19, register here.

FAQs about Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for COVID-19

What are monoclonal antibodies?

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic natural antibodies’ ability to fight viruses such as COVID-19.

Does monoclonal antibody treatment work?

Clinical trials have shown fewer COVID-19-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits and a decrease in the amount of virus in an infected person’s blood in patients at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Who is eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment?

Monoclonal antibody treatment may only be used in adults and adolescents (12 and older) with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms who:

  • Recently had a positive COVID-19 test
  • Are within 10 days of first experiencing symptoms
  • Do not need to be hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment
  • Weigh at least 88 pounds
  • Are in one of the following high risk categories:
    • Are age 55 to 64 AND have cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic respiratory diseases, or COPD
    • For adolescents: high BMI, sickle cell disease, heart disease, neurodevelopmental disorders, a medical-related technological dependence, asthma or other chronic respiratory disease
    • Or who have been determined by their healthcare provider to be at high risk for worsening and/or hospitalization

Eligibility also includes individuals who are not fully vaccinated, those who are vaccinated but not expected to have an adequate immune response to the vaccine, and those who are in congregate living situations such as nursing homes and prisons and have been exposed to a known or suspected case of COVID-19.

If I test positive for COVID-19, how can I get this treatment?

Talk to your health care provider as soon as you test positive for COVID-19 so they can determine if monoclonal antibodies are the right treatment for you. If you do not have a healthcare provider you may be evaluated over the internet by going to medstarhealth.org/evisit. If you do not have access to the internet you may call 410-649-6122 and receive information on monoclonal applicability over the phone.

How are monoclonal antibodies administered to COVID-19 patients?

Patients receive monoclonal antibody treatment through a single IV infusion, followed by at least one hour of observation. In certain circumstances the monoclonal antibodies can be administered by injection under the scan (subcutaneous), particularly when intravenous is not possible.

What are the side effects of monoclonal antibody treatment?

The most common reported side effects are nausea and vomiting. Other side effects with bamlanivimab and etesevimab include diarrhea, dizziness, headache, and itchiness. Additional side effects with casirivimab/imdevimab include hyperglycemia and pneumonia. Receiving any medicine by IV may cause brief pain, bleeding, bruising, soreness, swelling and infection where you get the needle.

Will my insurance cover monoclonal antibody treatment?

Monoclonal antibodies are provided at no cost to patients. However, there may be other associated costs related to the process of infusing the antibodies that may be covered by insurance.

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have monoclonal antibody treatment?

Those who have had monoclonal antibody treatment should wait 90 days before getting vaccinated.

Can I access this treatment if I don’t have a primary care physician?

If you do not have a primary care provider, the Maryland Department of Health has partnered with MedStar Health to provide access to a referring Clinician via their online Telehealth website. Please go to medstarhealth.org/evisit or download their app via Apple or Android to schedule a virtual appointment. If it is determined you are eligible, they will be able to refer you to an infusion site for treatment.

If you don’t have a primary care provider or internet access, please contact the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital to speak with a clinician, who will review your eligibility for monoclonal antibody treatment. If it is determined you are eligible, they will either schedule you for infusion treatment at the Convention Center or refer you to another site based on your location. The dedicated phone line for this service is 410-649-6122.

Is monoclonal antibody treatment effective against the new variants of COVID-19 that have emerged?

Available monoclonal antibody therapy is expected to be effective against circulating variants, including the Delta variant.

Where is this treatment being offered?

As of August 2021, the following locations offer this treatment in Maryland. Please note that you must get a referral from your health care provider in order to receive treatment.

  • Garrett Medical Center
  • UPMC Western Maryland
  • Meritus Medical Center
  • UM Upper Chesapeake Health
  • Hatzalah of Baltimore
  • Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital
  • Odenton Volunteer Fire Department
  • Anne Arundel Medical Center
  • UMMS Capital Region Health-Laurel
  • Adventist–Takoma Park
  • Doctor’s Community Hospital
  • City of Praise Family Ministries
  • Charles Regional Medical Center
  • TidalHealth Peninsula Regional
  • Atlantic General Hospital

FAQs about COVID-19 and Older Adults

Do older adults have a higher risk of becoming more seriously ill from COVID-19?

The risk for severe illness with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. Severe illness means that older adults with COVID-19 might need hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they might even die.

Other factors can also make you more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19, such as having certain underlying medical conditions.

Older unvaccinated adults are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

How can older adults best protect themselves from COVID-19?

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Even if you are vaccinated, for the best protection from the Delta variant, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

You can reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • Limit your in-person interactions with other people as much as possible, particularly when indoors.
  • Keep space between yourself and others (stay 6 feet away, which is about 2 arm lengths).
  • Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Then wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and things you touch often.

What are some risk factors to look for if or when you do resume some activities, run errands, and attend events and gatherings?

There is no way to ensure you have zero risk of getting COVID-19. So, it is important to know how to reduce your risk as much as possible. Generally, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.

Before going to an event or gathering, consider:

  • COVID-19 cases in your community, the event location or the locations people are coming from. The higher the number of cases the greater the risk.
  • Exposure while traveling, especially in places where physical distancing may be hard or where ventilation may be poor.
  • Setting of the event. Indoor events, especially in places with poor ventilation, pose more risk than outdoor events.
  • Length of the event. Events that last longer pose more risk than shorter events.
  • Number of people at the event. Events with more people increase your likelihood of exposure.
  • Behavior of people at an event. Behaviors, such as interacting with others from outside your own household, singing, shouting, not physical distancing, or not wearing masks, can increase risk.

FAQs about Testing

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

The CDC recommends the following people should get tested for COVID-19:

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19. regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. If you get tested because you have symptoms or were potentially exposed to the virus, you should stay away from others pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional.
  • Most people who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
    • Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
    • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
  • Unvaccinated people who have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot physically distance themselves as needed to avoid exposure, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded or poorly-ventilated indoor settings.

People who have been asked or referred to get tested by their healthcare provider, or local, state, or federal jurisdiction.

Do I need to get testing for COVID-19 once I have been fully vaccinated?

Once you have been fully vaccinated (two weeks after your second shot if it is a two-shot vaccine; two weeks after Johnson & Johnson single dose) the CDC is currently recommending you should contact your healthcare provider and obtain a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Although the vaccines are very effective, like all vaccinations they are not 100 percent effective.

As a result of the growing prevalence of the highly-contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, the CDC is now recommending that you should also test 3-5 days after a known exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Those who are vaccinated and tested should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

For international travel, a negative COVID-19 test result may be needed to enter the country you intend to visit. Check the current COVID-19 situation of your travel destination. All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.

Where do I get tested? Whom do I contact?

There are more than 310 testing sites available throughout Maryland. Location, contact, and scheduling information for many of the COVD-19 test sites in Maryland can be found at covidtest.maryland.gov. If in doubt, patients are encouraged to contact the site where they plan to be tested to verify that site’s appointment procedures and other testing requirements.

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

Generally, the test involves a swab (“q-tip”) inserted into the back of the patient’s nostrils or the lower portion of the nose (both methods are accurate and effective). Most patients report minor, temporary discomfort at most.

What is an “At-Home” test for COVID-19?

If you would like to be tested for COVID-19 and can’t get tested by a healthcare provider or at one of your local testing sites, you and your healthcare provider can consider using a self-collection kit or a self-test that can be performed at home.  Sometimes a self-test is also called a “home-test” or an “at-home test.”  These self-collection kits and tests are available either by prescription or over the counter in a pharmacy or retail store without a prescription.

How does an at-home test for COVID-19 work?

Currently, available at-home tests are used for the detection of current infection. Some tests require a nasal specimen that can be collected using a provided swab. Other tests require a saliva specimen.  At-home tests can be either a PCR test, meaning you send your specimen into the specified lab, or they can be an antigen test, meaning you would receive your results right away.   Upon receipt of your results, you should communicate those results to your healthcare provider.

What do the results of my at-home test mean?

If you took the test while you had symptoms and followed all instructions carefully, a negative result usually means your current illness is not COVID-19.  However, it is possible for a test to give a negative result in some people who have COVID-19 (this is called a false negative). Discuss your symptoms and test results with your healthcare provider to determine if you need follow-up testing.

If your test is positive:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about your positive test result and stay in contact with them during your illness
  • Stay home and isolate away from others for a minimum of 10 days
  • Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19

For more information on how to know who your close contacts are and how to notify them, see this CDC resource: How To Talk To Your Close Contacts.

Where can I learn more about the different types of tests available in Maryland?

A table comparing common types of COVID-19 tests is now available at COVIDtest.maryland.gov.

How long does it take to receive results? How do people who are tested get their results?

Generally, the results will be available within approximately 24-48 hours, depending on laboratory testing demands and resources. In most cases, you will have the option to be contacted with your results via text message or phone call or to retrieve your results through an online patient portal.

Will I have to pay for the COVID-19 test?

In many circumstances, tests are provided at no out-of-pocket cost to individuals. However, individuals should contact their health plan prior to receiving a COVID-19 test to determine whether testing is covered by the plan in their circumstance. Out-of-pocket expenses may apply if the test is not covered by the health plan. Maryland Medicaid will cover the costs of COVID-19 testing for its beneficiaries.

Will my insurance cover treatment if I test positive for COVID-19?

Health insurance plans cover medically necessary treatment for disease, but the treatment may be subject to deductibles, copayments, and/or coinsurance. You will need to pay those amounts, even if the care is covered. If you have a limited-benefits plan, there may be additional restrictions on what is covered.

If I do have COVID-19, what happens?

The vast majority of people recover from this disease in one to two weeks. Most people will have mild to moderate symptoms and will be advised to recover at home and isolate themselves from others. Any individual whose symptoms get worse should call a health care provider.

After The Test

What do I do while waiting for my results?

Stay at home and self-isolate. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Limit contact with pets and animals; wear a face covering when you are around others; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms get worse, please call your health care provider’s office. If you are having a medical emergency, such as difficulty breathing, call 911. Tell the 911 operator that you were tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for results.

What do I do if my test results are positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive, you should self-isolate at home. You can be with others after:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared; and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication; and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.

Continue to practice good hygiene, including frequent and thorough hand washing, disinfecting “high-touch” surfaces, and frequently washing clothing and bedding. Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets. Practice physical distancing within the home and wear a mask around other people. Also, please answer the call or text from MD COVID or (240) 466-4488 to help Maryland contact tracers slow the spread of COVID-19.

Will my positive COVID-19 test results be reported to public health entities?

Yes. Positive COVID-19 test results will be reported to the appropriate public health agency in accordance with applicable Maryland laws and regulations.

When can I be around others after having COVID-19?

Talk to your health care provider especially if you have a ​high-risk underlying health condition​ or if you are 65 years and older. You may need to stay away from other people longer.

Most people can follow the CDC’s three conditions before being around others:

  1. It has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appears, ​AND
  2. It has been at least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND
  3. Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation) ​.

When around others, remember to maintain six feet of distance and wear a face covering.

Please visit ​covidtest.maryland.gov​ for additional information about testing and to find a testing site near you.

FAQs about Contact Tracing

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an individual with an infectious disease. The process involves identifying people who have been infected, determining who they have been in close contact with while infectious and asking people who are potentially infected to stay home until it is clear they are not sick.

For the coronavirus pandemic, contact tracing begins with a phone interview of the positive COVID-19 patient and obtaining details regarding the patient’s contacts, who they have interacted with and where they have gone recently. The next step involves locating people with whom the infected person has interacted during their infectious period.

I tested positive, why haven't I gotten a call?

While the goal of contact tracing is to talk to all reported cases and all of their named close contacts, it might not always be possible. The key things to know if you test positive but don’t get a call are to isolate (please see the FAQs about Isolation and Quarantine) and to tell your close contacts of their exposure. For information on how to notify your contacts please see How To Talk To Your Close Contacts. Call your local health department if you need access to resources or have questions. And please answer our call – the caller ID will read “MD COVID”. If you do not have caller ID, look for the phone number (240) 466-4488.

I got a text message from the Maryland Department of Health. Is it legitimate?

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) might text people who test positive or their named contacts for a couple of reasons. The text message may remind people to answer our call when a contact tracer calls to get more people to answer on the first call. Another reason MDH might send a text is to provide the verification code that a person who has been infected needs to share their COVID-19 diagnosis through MD COVID Alert, without having to wait for a contact tracer to call.

What happens after the list of contacts is established?

Following the interview with the person who has tested positive, other individuals who came into close contact with that person will be contacted by phone and guidance will be provided regarding how to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms.

During quarantine individuals will receive text, email or phone check-ins regarding their potential symptoms and be referred for testing should they develop symptoms. This process was developed to help prevent further person-to-person spread of the infection.

Why is contact tracing necessary?

Contact tracing is an essential tool used to decrease the spread of infectious disease and has been effectively employed during other health emergencies, such as the H1N1 pandemic in America and Ebola outbreaks in Africa.

Effective use of contact tracing is a critical step in decreasing the number of COVID-19 cases. In fact, contact tracing was one of the “four building blocks” of public health response described by Governor Larry Hogan as critical in reopening Maryland — along with securing adequate supplies of PPE, expanding testing and ensuring Maryland had ample hospital surge capacity for infections.

Contact tracing is necessary even in light of vaccines because it is an essential public health tool that can contain outbreaks that may occur as restrictions relax (e.g., lifting masks mandates, less social distancing, large events, travel) and help public health professionals track new variants.

Who conducts contact tracing?

Local health departments across the state are conducting contact tracing. Maryland has also contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago, one of the largest independent social research organizations in the United States, to assist in contact tracing efforts.

How many contact tracers are actively calling Maryland residents who test positive for COVID-19?

Maryland has a sufficient number of contact tracers to make sure all people who test positive for COVID-19 are called by phone and provided guidance for how to isolate and ensure they have the resources they need to successfully isolate. The number of contact tracers has changed over the course of the pandemic in order to meet the goal of calling all cases within 24 hours of their positive result being reported to MDH.

Does contact tracing damage my privacy and violate HIPAA laws?

No. Contact tracers take extreme measures to protect the privacy of patients who are infected and maintain strict adherence to HIPAA regulations. During a trace investigation, a person will be notified that they may have come into contact with an infected individual, but the name of the person who has been infected is not disclosed.

What kinds of questions might a contact tracer ask me?

If a contact tracer calls you, they will ask about your health, any potential symptoms you may have, and the duration of those symptoms. They may ask about the places you have gone while you were considered contagious. If you had close contact with others during that time, they will ask for names and contact information for those individuals.

The contact tracer will ask you to be as specific as possible about the nature and location of your interactions with others, as a way of understanding who might be potentially infected.

What kind of questions will a contact tracer never ask?

A contact investigator will never ask you for your social security number, financial or bank account information, or personal details unrelated to COVID-19. They will not ask for photographs or videos of any kind. They will not ask for your passwords. They will not ask for money or payment. They will not ask for your immigration status. They will ask for verification of your date of birth, address, and any other phone numbers you may have.

What if I’m called, told to isolate or quarantine and need assistance?

Call your local health department for help connecting with county resources that are available to you during your isolation or quarantine period. Please see the MDH FAQs about Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

How do I know that a call from a contact tracer is not a scam? Is there a way to verify who is calling?

With the prevalence of telephone scams and other fraud, we understand people’s reluctance to answer detailed questions from someone who calls to ask about their activities and contact with friends and loved ones. Maryland’s contact tracing efforts have several methods by which you can verify the identity of the caller.

When your phone rings, the caller ID will read “MD COVID” on your screen. If you do not have caller ID on your phone, look for the phone number (240) 466-4488. If you receive a contact tracing call from a different number it may be someone calling from your local health department. If you wish to verify this person is calling from the State or local health department you may hang up and call back to the main numbers instead, (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.

Contact tracers will never ask for your social security number, bank account information, personal details unrelated to COVID-19 and they will never ask for payment. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a Contact Tracer and they ask you for these things, it is a scam. Please report this to your Local Health Department. You can also report Contact Tracing fraud to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/

What is MD COVID Alert?

MD COVID Alert is the official COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system for Maryland. This system was developed to assist, but not replace Maryland’s contact tracing efforts. MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to quickly notify users who might have been exposed to someone who tested positive. This  technology can help Maryland residents stop the spread of COVID-19. To learn more about MD COVID Alert, please read these Frequently Asked Questions.

How does MD COVID Alert protect my privacy?

The service is opt-in only. You have full control to opt in to receive Exposure Notifications and can turn them off at any time. The service will never track your location — it uses Bluetooth rather than GPS. Your identity will never be revealed to anyone. The service will never collect, transmit or store any of your personal information.  Learn more about MD COVID Alert’s Privacy Policy.

I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Do I still need to isolate or quarantine if I am contacted?

Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. They should isolate if they test positive. Fully vaccinated people who live in a household with someone who is immunosuppressed, at increased risk of severe disease, or unvaccinated (including children <12 years of age) could also consider masking at home for 14 days following a known exposure or until they receive a negative test result.

Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, if they follow the testing and masking recommendation above.

Fully vaccinated people should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

Do I have to quarantine if I have already had COVID-19?

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

How do I participate in contact tracing if I take an at-home COVID-19 test?

Since at-home tests are not routinely reported to MDH by a laboratory or a healthcare provider a contact tracer from the health department will not have access to your information to contact you.

 

If you take an at-home test and your test is positive, you should:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about your positive test result and stay in contact with them during your illness
  • Stay home and isolate away from others for a minimum of 10 days
  • Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19

For more information on how to know who your close contacts are and how to notify them, see this CDC resource: How To Talk To Your Close Contacts

I tested positive on an at-home test. Can I get a letter to excuse me from work or school?

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is unable to provide work or school excuse letters for those who test positive using an at-home test. We are only able to provide an excuse letters for people who participate in contact tracing, which only happens if your test result is officially reported to MDH by a laboratory or a healthcare provider.

FAQs about MD COVID Alert

What is MD COVID Alert?

MD COVID Alert is the official COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system of Maryland. This system was developed to assist, but not replace Maryland’s contact tracing efforts.

MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to quickly notify users who might have been exposed to someone who tested positive. This will reduce the risk of infection and help Maryland stop the spread of COVID-19.

How can MD COVID Alert help with contact tracing efforts?

Traditional methods of contact tracing are critical to containing the spread of infection. Technology can support and augment these efforts by notifying people that they might have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, including people the person might not know directly. This starts with MD COVID Alert on your smartphone.

If you have an iPhone, opt-in to Exposure Notifications in your device settings. On Android, you can download the MD COVID Alert app on the Play Store.

Where can I download MD COVID Alert?

MD COVID Alert is available at no cost to you. For Apple users, you do not need to download an app – simply go to your phone’s Settings, enable Exposure Notifications, and select Maryland as your region.

To enable MD COVID Alert, you must have one of the following iOS versions:

  • iPhone 6s or newer: iOS 13.7 or later
  • iPhone 5s, 6, or 6 Plus: iOS 12.5
  • All older devices: Currently not supported. Apple is working on solutions. We will update the website as more information is available.

iPhones that support iOS 13.7 or later are: iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XR, XS, XS Max, X, SE (2nd generation), 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE (1st generation).

For Android users, download the MD COVID Alert app through the Play Store. Android users

can use MD COVID Alert if their phone supports Bluetooth Low Energy, Android Version 6 (API 23) or above, and can access the Google Play Store.

Do I have to use MD COVID Alert?

No. Using MD COVID Alert is voluntary, and you may choose to uninstall or disable it at any time. MD COVID Alert is intended for use by individuals 13 years of age or older and is useful even if you have been vaccinated.

Can minors use MD COVID Alert?

MD COVID Alert is for persons 13 years and older. MD COVID Alert is not intended for children under the age of 13 and does not knowingly allow a child under the age of 13 to use the service. If a child under the age of 13 enables MD COVID Alert and receives an exposure notification, they should show the alert to a parent or legal guardian. Questions can be sent to mdh.mdcovidalert@maryland.gov.

How does MD COVID Alert work?

MD COVID Alert works by assigning you a random number called a ‘random ID’. To ensure these random IDs cannot be used to identify users or their whereabouts, they change every 10-20 minutes. As the user goes about their day, their devices and other devices around them exchange the random IDs via Bluetooth Low Energy technology.

On a daily basis, your phone downloads a list of all the random IDs associated with verified positive COVID-19 cases and checks them against the random IDs users have encountered in the two days prior to their positive test or symptom onset. If there’s a match, the system will notify users of the date of exposure. No other information about the exposure will be shared.

Will MD COVID Alert protect my privacy?

Your privacy is important to the Maryland Department of Health, Apple, and Google. You are in charge of how much information is shared. You must opt into the system in order for it to work and you can turn exposure notifications off any time.

MD COVID Alert does not track your location. It does not collect or use the location from your device. It uses Bluetooth, which can be used to detect if two devices are near each other – without revealing where the devices are or who they belong to. All the Exposure Notification matching happens on your smartphone. The system does not share your identity with other users, Apple, or Google. Learn more about MD COVID Alert’s Privacy Policy.

How does MDH define “close contact”?

MDH follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of a “close contact” which is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. The cumulative total can be determined by adding individual exposures over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

Should I use MD COVID Alert if I’ve been vaccinated?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness. There will be a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19. Knowing you have been exposed to COVID-19 provides valuable information and prompts you to monitor for symptoms and get tested if any symptoms develop.

I’ve been vaccinated - what should I do if I get an exposure notification?

Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine following an exposure notification, as their risk of infection is low. However, they should get tested 3-5 days following the date of exposure, wear masks in indoor settings until they test negative and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

Any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19 following an exposure notification alert should isolate themselves from others and get tested.

For more information, please read CDC’s Interim Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.

Specifics on Exposure Notifications

What should I do if I get an alert from MD COVID Alert?

I received an exposure notification. How can I find my date of exposure?

On an iPhone, go to Settings and open Exposure Notifications. The exposure date is found under “You might have been exposed to COVID-19… “

On an Android phone, the date of exposure is conveyed in the alert message under “possible exposure date”.

Why does the exposure date reflect a day I didn’t leave the house?

In order to preserve anonymity, the date of exposure is approximately within 24 hours of contact. Therefore, the contact could have occurred the previous day. In addition, because MD COVID Alert uses your phone’s Bluetooth technology to determine proximity, if another person used your phone somewhat distant to you (e.g., borrowed your phone and took it elsewhere), it is possible you could be notified of an exposure even if you did not leave the house.

Is MD COVID Alert compatible with other exposure notification apps?

MD COVID Alert is completely interoperable with Exposure Notifications apps in states that are using the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) National Key Server. More information and a full list of participating jurisdictions are available here.  Users that travel between these regions will receive Exposure Notifications if they come in close contact with another user that has verified a positive test result regardless of the State experience they are using.

Does MD COVID Alert work outside of Maryland?

Yes, MD COVID Alert’s exposure notifications will work outside of Maryland if the area that you are traveling to also has an exposure notifications mobile app interoperable through the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

Currently, MD COVID Alert works with the neighboring jurisdictions of DC, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Users who work or travel between these regions will receive Exposure Notifications if they come in close contact with another user that has verified a positive test result.

More information about APHL and a full list of participating jurisdictions is available here.

I already downloaded an Exposure Notifications system from another state. Do I need to download MD COVID Alert, too?

Yes. If you live in Maryland, it is important for you to enable Exposure Notifications based on the State where you currently live and where you expect to be tested and access services if needed.

You can switch regions by:

  • (On iPhone) Going to Settings > Exposure Notifications > Region > Add Another Region Select Region (United States > Maryland);
  • (On Android) Open the MD COVID Alert app > Click Settings > Click Exposure Notifications > Click ‘Switch App’

Do I always need to leave MD COVID Alert open for the system to work?

No. MD COVID Alert will run in the background, without draining your battery or data, when it is not open. You will need to make sure the system is installed, and Exposure Notifications service has been enabled for MD COVID Alert to work.

Do I always need to keep Bluetooth turned on for MD COVID Alert to work?

Yes. Bluetooth must always be turned on for the Exposure Notifications System to detect how close you are to other users.

I tested positive, how do I get my verification code?

To enter your positive test result into MD COVID Alert you will need a verification code from the Maryland Department of Health. You should receive a text message with your verification code once your test results have been reported to the Maryland Department of Health. If you do not receive your code by text, a contact tracer can share the code with you during their initial outreach. Please answer the call when you get a phone call from MD COVID or (240) 466-4488.

How does MD COVID Alert determine who is a COVID-19 positive case?

If an individual has MD COVID Alert enabled, they can self-report their positive test result by using a verification code provided by the Maryland Department of Health (see question above).  Once that individual submits their verification code, this will trigger exposure alerts to go out to other MD COVID Alert users that they were in close contact with.

Will using MD COVID Alert drain my battery?

MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy, which is designed to have minimal impact on battery life. You should not see a significant change in phone battery consumption.

Will MD COVID Alert use a lot of data?

No. Every day, MD COVID Alert downloads new anonymous keys for detecting possible exposures. You can expect this to consume a few megabytes of your data each day.

Will MD COVID Alert work on iPads or Tablets?

No, MD COVID Alert does not work on iPads or Tablets.

Will this work with a smartwatch that is Bluetooth enabled?

No, the MD COVID Alert technology was designed specifically for smartphones and is not supported on smartwatches.

What does Matched Key Count mean?

For users that dive deeper into their phone’s Exposure Notifications features, they may find the Matched Key Count.

Every 4-6 hours, your phone runs checks against the ‘keys’ of phones that have a confirmed positive test. If you met the criteria to receive an exposure notification, you would receive a notification directly on your phone’s home screen (like a text message or weather alert).  Users do not need to review their Matched Key Count. During these regular checks, your phone is recording any possible matches in the “Matched Key Count” field. If you see a number larger than 0, this means your phone was in “contact” with a positive phone but did not meet the criteria MDH selected to receive an exposure notification.

The criteria to receive an exposure notification is based on the CDC’s definition of a close contact, which means that your phone must be in close contact with another phone for at least 15 minutes or more, within 6 feet, and recorded over the course of 24 hours.

If you have a “Matched Key Count” of 1 or more but did NOT receive an exposure notification message directly on your phone, this means you did not meet the exposure criteria.  For instance, you may have been within 10ft or you could have been in contact for only 5 minutes.

Technical

What phones can support MD COVID Alert?

To enable MD COVID Alert on an iPhone, you must have one of the follow iOS versions:

  • iPhone 6s or newer: iOS 13.7 or later
  • iPhone 5s, 6, or 6 Plus: iOS 12.5
  • All older devices: Currently not supported. Apple is working on solutions. We will share updates as more information is available.

iPhones that support MD COVID Alert are:iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XR, XS, XS Max, X, SE (2nd generation), 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE (1st generation), 6, 6 Plus, and 5s.

Android users can use MD COVID Alert if their phone supports Bluetooth Low Energy, Android Version 6 (API 23) or above, and can access the Google Play Store.

For more information about Exposure Notifications, please visit www.google.com/covid19/exposurenotifications.

How do I disable Exposure Notifications on an iPhone?

You can disable all Exposure Notifications by going to Settings > Exposure Notifications and tapping Turn Off Exposure Notifications. This will also delete the Bluetooth Identifiers recorded from other devices, associated metadata, your Random Device Keys, and your Exposure Notifications regions.

You can also delete the Bluetooth Identifiers, associated metadata, and Random Device Keys by going to Settings > Exposure Notifications > Exposure Logging and tapping Delete Exposure Log.

If you turn off Bluetooth on your device by going to Settings > Bluetooth, that will disable the sharing and collection of random Bluetooth Identifiers with other devices. This means that the Public Health Authority for your active region won’t be able to notify you about exposures to someone with COVID-19 that occur while Bluetooth is off.

The remaining features of Exposure Notifications will continue to operate while you have Bluetooth turned off. Turning Bluetooth back on will re-enable the sharing and collection of random Bluetooth Identifiers with other devices.

Apple will disable the Exposure Notifications system on a regional basis when it is no longer needed.

Within Settings I can see several Exposure Checks, many at the same time. Do these mean I was exposed?

Within your device’s Settings menu, you can see an Exposure Notifications or Exposure Logging section (the path to these is slightly different on some devices, but is typically as stated here):

iOS: Settings > Privacy > Health > COVID-19 Exposure Logging or Settings > Exposure Notifications

Android: Settings > Google > COVID-19 Exposure Notifications. Within those menus, you can find an “Exposure checks” field with a timestamped list.

These items are not exposures, but rather when your device made the checks against the tokens from positive users that your device has downloaded from the server to look if you have had an exposure. You may see several entries with the same date, as the keys of positive users are separated into a few files, and your device will download and check for matches within each of those files.

If two people are in different rooms with a wall between them, does the wall block the Bluetooth signal or could the person in another room be identified as a close contact?

A wall would be expected to diminish the signal strength between devices, but the extent of that would be determined by the materials and structure of the wall. It is possible, but unlikely, that two devices close to a shared wall would still have sufficient signal strength to trigger a notification.

Once a person uploads their positive tests results, how long does it take MD COVID Alert to send out information that they tested positive?

If a user submits a positive test result in MD COVID Alert to notify others, users that they were near can expect to receive an exposure notification within the next day from the time the report was submitted. This time is needed to make the positive user’s tokens available on the server and for other users’ devices to download those tokens and check for potential matches.

What if people submit false test reports in MD COVID Alert?

To prevent users from submitting false test results, MD COVID Alert requires users to verify their test result using a verification code. A contact tracer will call you on the phone and provide the code via SMS text.

Click the link in the SMS text to enter the code into MD COVID Alert to report your positive test. MD COVID Alert will upload the list of anonymous keys it has been in contact with only after a test result has been verified.

Do I need to be connected to Wifi or a cellular data connection for MD COVID Alert to work?

The exchange of anonymous tokens between users is done using Bluetooth and does not require Wifi or a cellular data connection. If Bluetooth is turned on, your phone will exchange tokens with others. However, other functionality, including verification code submission and positive key downloads to receive notifications do require a Wifi or cellular data connection to work.

Why does Location need to be enabled on Android devices?

Location does not need to be enabled on Android devices with Android 11. Older versions of Android do require location to be enabled for Bluetooth to work, even though location data is not collected or used by MD COVID Alert.

In 2015, in an effort to improve user privacy, Google built into Android a requirement that Location be turned on to enable Bluetooth. They did not anticipate the current need for MD COVID Alert to use Bluetooth technology without Location. MD COVID Alert does not collect any user location data. For additional information on location access on your Android phone, please visit Google’s Help page on Exposure Notifications and Android location settings.

On an Android device, I get an “Internal error” when attempting to enable MD COVID Alert. How can I fix this?

This can be an issue for Android devices where Google Play services have not been updated. To resolve this, follow these steps:

  • On your Android phone or tablet, open Settings.
  • Tap “Apps” or “Apps & notifications” then “See all apps.”
  • Scroll down and tap “Google Play services”
  • Scroll down and tap “App Details” or “App details in store”
  • Tap “Update” or “Install”

This should resolve your issue. If it does not, please visit: www.google.com/covid19/exposurenotifications.

I turn my phone off periodically, usually a few hours per day to charge and/or reboot it. Does that affect MD COVID Alert?

Yes, this does affect MD COVID Alert slightly. Turning off your phone will prevent receipt of anonymous key updates that allow for the exposure notifications to work effectively. If your phone is off while you are at home alone, then there will be no effect. You would not want your phone to be off when you might encounter other people outside your household.

What can I do if my smartphone doesn’t support MD COVID Alert?

MDH appreciates your interest in MD COVID Alert. Unfortunately, if your phone does not meet the version requirements, it is not possible to use MD COVID Alert. We understand that this may prevent some people from being able to use MD COVID Alert. We will keep the community updated on any changes in these requirements.

Does it matter who my cell phone carrier is?

No.  MD COVID Alert is supported by all phone carriers.  Users from all carriers with mobile devices with Android 6+ and iOS 13.7+ are able to use MD COVID Alert.

What if a person submits a false test result in MD COVID Alert?

To prevent users from submitting false test results, MD COVID Alert requires users to verify their test results using a verification code. An individual will receive their verification code via SMS text from the Maryland Department of Health or when speaking with a contact tracer.

If you have questions about MD COVID Alert that are not answered here, please submit questions to mdh.mdcovidalert@maryland.gov.

What is the Maryland Department of Health doing to combat all of the COVID-19 disinformation that seems so prevalent these days?

The Maryland Department of Health has announced a new social media initiative to combat COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation and ensure that Marylanders have accurate information about life-saving vaccines, the importance of testing, and other COVID-19-related facts. Get more information here.

Has the Mu variant of COVID-19 been detected in Maryland yet?

Since April 13, 2021, there have been 53 confirmed Mu variant cases reported in Maryland. However, the Delta variant is present in more than 95% of all new sequenced cases in the state. This underscores the urgent need for unvaccinated eligible individuals to get a life-saving vaccine as soon as possible to protect against serious illness related to the virus, hospitalization and even death. The majority of new lab-confirmed cases resulting in deaths and hospitalizations are occurring in those individuals that are not vaccinated.

Why did Maryland decide to authorize booster shots for individuals 65+ who live in congregate care settings?

“For several weeks now, states have had to operate without clear guidance from the federal government regarding these booster shots,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “The limited guidance we have received has been confusing and contradictory, and it is still unclear when and how more people will become eligible. But all of the evidence makes it abundantly clear that we cannot afford to delay taking decisive action to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”  For more information, read Governor Larry Hogan’s press release.

Which congregate care residents are eligible for the COVID-19 booster shot?

Residents at nursing homes, assisted living programs, residential drug treatment centers, and developmentally disabled group homes are eligible for the COVID-19 booster shot.

What is the Community COVID-19 Vaccination Project?

The Community COVID-19 Vaccination Project is a statewide door-to-door canvassing effort to reach Marylanders living in areas with low vaccination rates. Canvassers will provide vaccine and health education in at-risk neighborhoods.

This flu season can I get a COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines may be administered with other vaccines, including flu vaccines and MDH strongly encourages Marylanders to get a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine, if they haven’t already.

Can immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine get a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine?

No, the CDC does not recommend this currently.

Did the FDA grant full approval for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for everyone?

At this time, the FDA has approved Comirnaty, the COVID-19 vaccine known as Pfizer-BioNTech, for individuals aged 16 years and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine continues to have emergency use authorization from the FDA for children 12-15 years old and as an additional dose for certain immunocompromised individuals.

Is Comirnaty the same as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine?

Yes, Comirnaty and the Pfizer-BioNTech have the same formulation.

How did the FDA decide to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?

Please see the FDA’s statement on approving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

What do immunocompromised individuals need to do to get the booster shot?

The CDC approved the FDA amendment of the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech (COMIRNATY) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to allow specific individuals with compromised immune systems to receive a third additional vaccine dose.

Patients should talk to their healthcare providers to determine if they need an additional dose and what the timing of that dose should be. CDC does not recommend additional doses for any other population at this time.

Any Marylander who attests that they are eligible for an additional dose shall not be turned away by any provider after requesting an additional dose. Providers shall follow CDC guidelines when developing their own procedures to allow for self-attestation of patient eligibility.

Which immunocompromised individuals should get an additional third COVID-19 shot?

The CDC recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people get an additional third shot. Individuals should talk to their doctors to determine if they need an additional dose and what the timing of that dose should be, especially if they have:

  • Been receiving active tumor or blood cancer treatment
  • Received an organ transplant or stem cell transplant within the last 2 years and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency like DiGeorge or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
  • An advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

Why did the CDC approve an additional third dose of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised people?

Studies show some immunocompromised people don’t always build the same level of immunity after vaccination as non-immunocompromised people do. Experts now recommend that moderately to severely immunocompromised people, about 3 percent of U.S. adults, should get a third dose of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after their second dose.

Can I get monoclonal antibody treatment if I’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, if you test positive for COVID-19, and have symptoms for 10 days or less and are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms, you can get monoclonal antibody treatment if you have been vaccinated, but are not expected to have an adequate immune response to the vaccine. To learn more about monoclonal antibody treatment, see FAQs about Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for COVID-19.

Do COVID-19 vaccines protect you more than a prior COVID-19 infection?

According to a new CDC study, COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone. The study showed that people who had COVID-19 and stayed unvaccinated were twice as likely to get COVID again as people who had COVID-19 and then got fully vaccinated.

Does the CDC have any data on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy?

Yes, the CDC has data on COVID-19 vaccine safety during pregnancy gathered from three safety monitoring systems. The CDC just released new data  that shows no safety concerns for people who got the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or their babies. A key finding showed no increased risk for miscarriage from an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. Data has also shown no safety concerns for those vaccinated late in their pregnancy or for their babies. Scientists continue to study promising data that shows antibodies from an mRNA COVID-19 during pregnancy might help protect babies against COVID-19. For more information, see the CDC’s New CDC Data: COVID-19 Vaccination Safe for Pregnant People.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines working?

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting vaccinated is a critical tool to bring this pandemic under control. Data shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are working and keeping vaccinated Marylanders free from serious illness. The Maryland Department of Health recently started reporting Post-Vaccination Infections on its dashboard.

What is a post-vaccination infection?

A post-vaccination infection, or vaccine breakthrough case, is when an individual tests COVID-19 positive 14 days or more after being fully vaccinated. According to the CDC, vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. A small percentage of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still develop COVID-19 illness. No vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people.

Is Maryland going to require a vaccine passport?

Maryland has no plans for a vaccine passport. We strongly encourage all eligible Marylanders to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

Will Maryland follow the latest CDC mask recommendation for fully vaccinated people?

The Maryland Department of Health strongly recommends but does not require, that all individuals who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear face coverings in all indoor settings outside of their home and in outdoor settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained. State health officials are reviewing the latest guidance from the CDC and continue to closely monitor key state COVID-19 metrics.

Each local school system, nonpublic school, and child care program may set their own policies and procedures for their schools, students/children, teachers and staff.

With so much misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and frequently changing COVID-19 guidance, where should I go for reliable information?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still the best source for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and vaccines in the United States. For trusted information about COVID-19 in Maryland, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov or covidLINK, both Maryland Department of Health sites. If you have questions about COVID-19, call your local health department or dial 2-1-1.

Can you mix and match COVID-19 vaccines?

According to the CDC, you cannot mix Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Experts have not evaluated the safety and effectiveness of mixing these two vaccines. The CDC recommends using the same product for both doses of the series.

I've been vaccinated. Do I need to worry about the Delta variant? What about people who have not been vaccinated?

The CDC has classified the Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, as a variant of concern. The Delta variant is highly contagious and spreads easily and quickly. The rapid rise of this variant is another concerning risk for the unvaccinated. The CDC reports that the Delta variant is currently the predominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death. In Maryland during July, the majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were among unvaccinated individuals.

COVID-19 Vaccination Plan:

What is Maryland doing to help make sure people can get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Maryland is working with partners at the federal, state, local and community level to work through the logistics of delivering, storing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Maryland is also making sure that people have the information they need to be confident in deciding to get vaccinated. Key priorities include:

  • Developing and regularly sharing clear and accurate information with people to make sure they understand the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated and can make informed decisions.
  • Helping healthcare providers answer their patients’ questions about the vaccine.
  • Engaging communities and individuals in an equitable and inclusive way to ensure that people have opportunities to ask questions and get clear, accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Easy access to COVID-19 vaccines is equally critical. Maryland is working with public health professionals, healthcare providers, and other partners to make sure people can easily get a COVID-19 vaccine and that cost is not a barrier.

Does Maryland have a campaign to address any concerns people may have about getting the vaccine?

The State of Maryland has launched GoVAX, a grassroots public outreach and equity campaign to promote vaccine confidence. GoVAX encourages all Marylanders to protect themselves, their families, and communities by getting vaccinated as soon as they can. The campaign also works to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence, especially among Marylanders in historically underserved populations that have been disproportionately affected by the disease. More information on GoVAX can be found here.

Who is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Maryland?

All Marylanders 12 and older are eligible for vaccination. (NOTE: Only the Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for ages 12 to 17.)

What can I do to help protect myself from getting COVID-19 until I can receive a vaccine?

You should cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands often. Get more information about these and other steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Marylanders are encouraged to visit covidlink.maryland.gov to learn more.

COVID-19 Vaccines:

What is a COVID-19 vaccine?

A COVID-vaccine is one way to prevent serious illness due to COVID-19. Vaccination causes your body to create antibodies without getting sick with the COVID-19 disease. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other experts will provide recommendations on priority groups and when groups should be vaccinated. Guidance on determining and providing the vaccine to priority groups will be based on the principles included in the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Interim Updated Planning Guidance on Allocating and Targeting Pandemic Influenza Vaccine During an Influenza Pandemic.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA).

Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

What is an emergency use authorization and how is it used to respond to COVID-19?

In certain types of emergencies, the FDA can issue an EUA to provide more timely access to critical medical products that may help during the emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternative options. The EUA process is different from full FDA approval, clearance or licensing because the EUA standard requires significantly less data than otherwise would be required for approval, clearance or licensing by the FDA. This enables the FDA to authorize the emergency use of medical products that meet the criteria for issuance within weeks rather than months to years. It must be determined that the vaccines are safe and effective in diminishing the severity of COVID-19 symptoms to gain an FDA emergency use authorization or full licensing.

What are the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines?

How is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine different from the others?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is slightly different from the existing vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. It is a single-dose vaccine that is made from a virus that causes the common cold and contains a piece of DNA that instructs the body to make the COVID-19 spike protein. This triggers an immune system response, giving you protection should you ever be exposed to the real virus in the future. You cannot get COVID-19 or a cold from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, because it does not contain any live virus. Learn more at Understanding and Explaining Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines.

In clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 85% effective in preventing severe/critical illness and totally effective in preventing death from COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested against the new COVID-19 variants and still performed well.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines have any side effects?

After the COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that may indicate your body is building immunities to protect you from the virus. The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

Learn more about what side effects to expect and get helpful tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort after your vaccination.

What are the common misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Now that there are authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., accurate vaccine information is critical. Here are the facts behind some of the most common vaccine myths:

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines are used to microchip people.
FACT: There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database.

MYTH: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
FACT: None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.
FACT: According to the CDC, the first COVID-19 vaccines to reach the market are messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting messenger RNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the messenger RNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.

How long will it take before a COVID-19 vaccine is able to prevent serious illness for the recipient?

It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. That means it is possible a person could still get COVID-19 before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. That is why you should still wear a mask, practice proper social distancing, and follow other COVID-19 safety guidelines, even after you have been vaccinated.

What is a COVID-19 variant, and will the vaccine protect me from it?

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic, including here in Maryland.

Scientists are confident that the currently authorized vaccines are effective against the variants, but more studies are now being conducted to determine the best ways to maintain protection against COVID-19 illness.

For more information, see the latest from the CDC on New Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19.

Can I choose what brand of vaccine I get?

It is not possible to predetermine or choose which vaccine you will get for your first dose. The brand of COVID-19 vaccine you will first receive depends on the date and location of your vaccination. The availability of a certain brand – for a first dose –  at any vaccination site varies weekly based on a variety of factors including the State’s supply and allocation of doses from the federal government. All of the available vaccines have been proven highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause heart problems?

The CDC has reported an extremely rare side effect in younger people mostly age 16+ that causes mild cases of inflammation of the heart muscle and surrounding tissue called myocarditis and pericarditis. These individuals recover on their own or with minimal treatment. Myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common if you get COVID-19, and the risks to the heart from COVID-19 infection can be more severe. For more information, read the joint statement from our nation’s health leaders.

Registering for a COVID-19 Vaccine:

Where can I get vaccinated? How do I register or make an appointment?

You can get a COVID-19 vaccine at 700+ pharmacy providers, 400+ primary care providers, hospitals, urgent care clinics, and local health departments across the state. You can find the site nearest you, information about which sites require an appointment, or sites that offer vaccines for ages 12+ by visiting covidvax.maryland.gov or calling the state’s multilingual call center seven days a week at 1-855-MD-GOVAX.

What do I need to know before I go get the vaccine?

You can make an appointment to get a vaccine, or you can go to a vaccination site or clinic that offers walk-up appointments. If you receive a two-dose vaccine, make sure you have a second appointment scheduled from the same site or know how to schedule it.

What can I expect at my vaccination appointment?

When you go to get the vaccine, you and your healthcare worker will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth. Stay 6 feet away from others while inside and in lines.

You can still get your COVID-19 vaccine without insurance, an ID, or a Social Security number.

The site should give you a vaccination card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date, and the place you got it.  Keep this card in a safe place. You will need it for your second shot and to keep for your records. Consider taking a picture of the card for safe keeping.

The provider should also give you a fact sheet that tells you more about the COVID-19 vaccine you are getting.  After your shot, you should be monitored on-site for 15-30 minutes for any sign of an allergic reaction.

How do I set an appointment for my second vaccine?

MDH has instructed COVID-19 vaccine providers to ensure that recipients are scheduled for a second dose before leaving their first-dose appointment. Vaccine recipients who do not yet have a second-dose appointment can schedule by contacting the site or provider where they received their first dose.

Pfizer vaccine recipients’ second dose should be scheduled for a time no earlier than three weeks after the first dose; Moderna vaccine recipients’ second dose should be scheduled for a time no earlier than four weeks after the first dose. If it is not possible to schedule an appointment for the second dose at the recommended interval, schedule an appointment at the next earliest time available.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers additional information about the administration of second doses.

Do I have to pay for the vaccine?

No, you will not have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine providers may request insurance information to be reimbursed by your insurer, but Marylanders will not receive a bill for their COVID-19 vaccination.

What documentation do I need to bring with me for my vaccination appointment?

You may want to bring a government-issued ID, and any other documentation specific to your situation to your appointment.

What should I do if I miss my first or second vaccine appointment?

It depends on where you made your appointment. Always check your vaccination appointment confirmation email or text message to see if there are specific instructions for rescheduling your appointment.  If you cannot find your appointment confirmation or there are no instructions, check the website where you were scheduled for more information.

How do I cancel a vaccination appointment at a pharmacy, hospital or local health department?

How you will cancel your vaccination appointment depends on where you made your appointment. Always check your vaccination appointment confirmation email or text message to see if there are specific instructions for canceling or rescheduling your appointment.  If you cannot find your appointment confirmation or there are no instructions, check the website where you are scheduled for more information.

What can I do if a vaccination site on the site finder at coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine will not load for me?

If you are not using Google Chrome, try using it as your browser. If you still cannot load the site from your computer, you can call the Maryland GoVAX COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Support Center advocates/agents can help you find a vaccination provider close to you. They can also help with general questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

Eligibility for COVID-19 Vaccine:

Who is now eligible for vaccines?

All Marylanders 12 and older are eligible for vaccination. (NOTE: Only the Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for ages 12 to 17.)

Where can I get more information about COVID-19 vaccines?

The state continues to issue vaccination updates through a number of channels, including our statewide 2-1-1 texting service. To opt-in to receive these alerts, text ‘MdReady’ to 898-211.

Marylanders are also encouraged to visit covidlink.maryland.gov to review safety information and learn more about the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for pregnant women?

Yes. If you are pregnant, you may choose to be vaccinated when it’s available to you. There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problem with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta.

People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. There is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. There is no routine recommendation for taking a pregnancy test before you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talking with a healthcare provider may might help you make an informed decision. Learn more at vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?

Yes. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may get a COVID-19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine, causes any problems with pregnancy or female or male fertility. For more information, visit the CDC.

Should women who are breastfeeding get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is currently no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. mRNA vaccines, like Pfizer and Moderna, are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant.

People who are breastfeeding and are part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, such as healthcare personnel, may choose to be vaccinated.

Available data on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered to pregnant women is not yet available. There is also no data at this time on the effects of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on breastfed infants or on milk production/excretion.

Should people with severe allergies get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC says that people who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still get any of the approved vaccines for COVID-19, but should discuss the risks with their doctors ahead of time.

There have been reports that some people have experienced both severe and non-severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine, also known as an EpiPen, or if they must go to the hospital. Some people have also experienced non-severe allergic reactions within 4 hours after getting vaccinated with symptoms such as hives, swelling, and wheezing.

If you have had an immediate allergic reaction—severe or non-severe—to any ingredient in any of the approved vaccines, you should not receive that vaccine. If you had a severe or non-severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second dose.

For these reasons, and to assure your safety, you are requested to stay at the vaccination site and in the proximity of a healthcare provider for 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccination.

Can children get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine available for Marylanders ages 12+. Visit www.covidvax.maryland.gov to find a vaccination location near you. Select “Search Vaccination Sites for Ages 12+ Only” or call 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Am I able to get my vaccine outside of the county of my residence?

Any eligible individual may receive a vaccine at any time, provided an appointment is available at a vaccine clinic. A COVID-19 vaccine administration site may establish additional appointment requirements or other restrictions necessary for the management of individuals and administration of the vaccine.

Do you have to be a MD resident to receive the vaccine in Maryland?

While we are not turning anyone away (if eligible), we are certainly prioritizing Maryland residents for vaccine administration. Any individual may receive a vaccine at any time, provided that they are eligible and an appointment is available at a vaccine clinic. A COVID-19 vaccine administration site may establish additional appointment requirements or other restrictions necessary for the management of individuals and administration of the vaccine.

If you had the virus and recovered will you still be able or need to get the vaccine?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Will I put my immigration status at risk if I get a COVID-19 vaccine? ¿Pondré en riesgo mi estado migratorio si me ponen la vacuna COVID-19?

Su estado migratorio NO estará en peligro por vacunarse o hacerse la prueba del COVID-19. Si es su turno, vacúnese. Si cree que tiene el virus, hágase la prueba. Visite https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/es para más información en español.

Accessing a COVID-19 vaccine or test will NOT put your immigration status at risk. Get vaccinated if you are eligible. Get a test if you need one. For more information, visit: https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/es/

I received a call from someone claiming they were from the Maryland Department of Health. How do I know if this is legitimate?

It can be difficult to know if a call is legitimate or a scam because a scammer can make any name or number show up on your caller ID. Phone scammers ask for specific information to try to steal your money or identity. Staff from the Maryland Department of Health will never ask you for your social security number, credit card information or other financial information. If the caller says they have this information and needs you to confirm it, don’t. If you don’t recognize a name or number, consider letting the call go to voicemail. If it’s a representative from the Maryland Department of Health or your local health department, they will leave a voicemail and phone number so you can call back.

Why GoVAX?

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA).

Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

Is a COVID-19 vaccine necessary?

COVID-19 infections can be a minor hindrance or lead to severe disease or even death. There are many reasons to get vaccinated.

  • Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.
  • Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

Why should I get vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccine works with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The vaccines are shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, and will also help protect the people around you. Together with wearing masks, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing, getting vaccinated will help us put an end to this deadly pandemic. Join the state’s vaccine confidence campaign.

Post COVID-19 Vaccination:

Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Some early evidence—based on some people— seems to suggest that natural immunity may not last very long. Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and the CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Once I get vaccinated, will I receive any sort of documentation to show that I have received the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, both of which require two doses,  you will receive a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card once you receive your first dose. It will also remind you of when you will need to return to receive your second dose. You will need to bring the card with you when you return for the second dose so that it can be documented on the card.

If you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires only one dose, you will receive a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card which will show that you have received the single dose.

You can also get a copy of your immunization record by going to MyIRMobile.com.

I was already vaccinated; do I still need to isolate or quarantine?

Fully vaccinated persons who meet the following criteria may no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19:

  • Fully vaccinated (2 or more weeks following the second dose in a 2-dose series, or 2 or more weeks following one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

Anyone who does not meet all three of the criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Fully vaccinated individuals who do not quarantine should still watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should be tested for COVID-19.

Vaccinated inpatients and residents in healthcare settings should continue to quarantine following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. CDC’s updated guidance for quarantine and isolation can be found here.

All fully vaccinated persons who do not quarantine should also continue to:

  • Follow all recommendations regarding facial coverings, social distancing, and other COVID-19 precautions; and
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, including SARS-CoV-2 testing, if indicated.

If I have all of my required vaccine shots and have a Vaccination Record Card, do I still need to get a COVID-19 test prior to coming into Maryland?

If you are traveling in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel into Maryland. International arrivals are required by the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to be tested prior to a flight’s departure. See here for more information.

However, according to the CDC, even if you are vaccinated against COVID-19, you may still be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. After exposure, people can “carry” the virus that causes COVID-19, but not feel sick or have any symptoms. For more information, please see the CDC’s webpage on travel.

Do fully vaccinated people need to get tested if exposed to COVID-19?

While the risk of a fully vaccinated person getting COVID-19 is low, if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the individual should be evaluated by their healthcare provider who will determine if testing is needed. Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19 symptoms do not need to be tested following exposure to COVID-19 according to the latest guidance from the CDC.

Don’t see your question answered? Ask A Vaccine Question

FAQs about Mental Health, Stress and Anxiety

What should I do if I have an existing mental health condition?

During and following an emergency, people with pre-existing mental health conditions should seek or continue treatment, following their treatment plans as set up through their provider. Individuals may experience a worsening of their symptoms; if this happens, contact your provider for additional services immediately.

What if I am feeling anxious or stressed related to COVID-19?

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they excessively see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the pandemic in the media.

Reactions during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

Feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness and uncertainty are normal during a pandemic. Fortunately, being proactive about your mental health can help to keep both your mind and body stronger.

What can I do to support myself?

Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life. When you do read news, avoid media outlets that build hype or dwell on things that can’t be controlled. Instead, turn to information sources that provide reliable information about how to protect yourself.

Recognize the things you can control. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, and exercise. Keep yourself grounded. Try to get regular sleep and maintain a healthy diet and exercise. It is not unusual for individuals to experience disruptions in both eating and sleeping during a crisis, and it is very important to try to maintain healthy habits, and to avoid strategies such as using drugs or alcohol to handle stress.

Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships. Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.

Stay connected. Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. You can use the phone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others.

Continue to maintain proper infection control techniques such as hand-washing and social distancing, and get vaccinated.

Check how realistically you are viewing the situation. Avoid dramatic media and rely on credible sources of information, such as the CDC. Social media is not always a reliable source of health information.

Call your health care provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row.

Where can I find additional resources?

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty


Black Mental Health Alliance

https://blackmentalhealth.com

Call 410-338-2642 or email ​info@blackmentalhealth.com


CDC

Mental Health and Coping with COVID-19

Strategies to Help Children Cope With a Disaster

Taking Care of Your Emotional Health


Gender Spectrum

Resources for Challenging Times


Maryland’s Crisis Helpline

Call 211 and press 1, text 898-211, or visit​ ​pressone.211md.org​ ​for information or to ​chat confidentially​ about local services and programs.


Maryland Family Tree

24/7 Parenting HelpLine: 1-800-243-7337


MDH’s Operation Roll Call

Maryland veterans can also enroll in Operation Roll Call (1-877-770-4801) — a program that offers regular check-in calls and a chance to talk to someone who can offer support.


MD Mind Health

Text “MDMindHealth” to 898-211 to sign up to receive encouragement, reminders, and resources for staying connected.


National Association of School Psychologists

Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19


SAMHSA

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories: 1-800-985-5990

FACT SHEET: Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks:

FACT SHEET: Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak

FACT SHEET: Talking with Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers during Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation

Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Emotional Distress


The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

​Coronavirus and Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks Response


WHO

Healthy Parenting in the time of COVID-19


CovidCONNECT

Visit covidconnect.maryland.gov for mental health resources, webinars, and COVID-19 recovery support groups.


MD Mind Health

Text “MDMindHealth” to 898-211 to sign up to receive encouragement, reminders, and resources for staying connected. For Spanish language version text “MDSaludMental.”

For Parents of Young Children

How can I help my children?

Children react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children respond to stress in the same way. Some common stress-related behavior to watch for in children include:

  • Excessive crying and irritation
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown, like toileting accidents or bedwetting
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
  • Poor school performance or avoiding assignments
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child:

Take time to talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand:​ ​Stop the Spread of Rumors​. ​Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of COVID-19. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can become frightened about something they do not understand.

Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.

Help children find positive ways to express disturbing feelings such as fear and sadness. Every child has his/her own way to express emotions. Sometimes engaging in a creative activity, such as playing and drawing, can facilitate this process. Children feel relieved if they can express and communicate their disturbing feelings in a safe and supportive environment.

Help your child to have a sense of structure. Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members and rely on your social support system.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more resources and information about children and anxiety.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more information about talking to children about coronavirus (COVID-19).

I’m feeling stress and anxiety about the choices in front of us. Will my children pick up on that?

Yes. ​Children are “sponges” and take emotional cues from their parents and caregivers. However, it is perfectly normal to feel stress and anxiety during this time of uncertainty. If you feel immobilized by these feelings, please seek professional help through a licensed behavioral health/medical provider. It is important that parents, caregivers and teachers manage their own emotions by remaining calm, being mindful of tone, listening to the child(ren)’s concerns, and reassuring them of their safety and well-being.

For Adolescents and Young Adults

Should I be worried about the pandemic?

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Adolescents and young adults often feel like nothing can go wrong. While this is normal, and can help reduce your worries, make sure you take steps to stay healthy. Recognize others may be hiding their worries in many ways. Some people become very irritable, angry and even start fights with others. Sleep and eating may become disrupted. Especially if other frightening things have happened, some youth may develop nightmares or have panic attacks. Still others may increase their use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs to escape from what is going on.

What can I do to help cope?

Keep yourself grounded. Exercise, meditate. Draw, write in a journal or use music to express your thoughts and feelings. Do things that make you feel good and are also good for you.

Plan the things you ​can​ do: get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, carry wet wipes or other items when you are out in public. Recognize the things you can control, like having good hygiene.

Reach out to your friends and family. If you can, talk about how you are feeling. Talk about anything positive — laugh, joke. Make sure you get enough sleep. Let someone know if you are not able to do your usual activities because of your worrying.

Stay connected. Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. You can use the phone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others. Talk “face to face” with friends and loved ones using video chat options.

Find more resources in the MDH Behavioral Health Administration’s student and young adult resource guide, Coping in the 2020/21 School Year.

For more information about coping, check out the CDC’s Support for Teens and Young Adults.

For Healthcare Workers

What should I know?

As a health professional, you may feel overwhelmed. As a person working with individuals who are potentially ill, you also likely have concerns about the risk of becoming infected yourself. You may also be concerned about your own financial security and family in the event of a quarantine or infection.

It is important to look after yourself and maintain a balanced view of the situation. There are some things you can control, and other things that you can do nothing about. The challenge is to separate these things so that you can take reasonable steps to protect yourself, but also let go of worries and anxieties that simply get in your way. It will be important to help your clients make the same distinctions.

It is important to recognize that health care workers can suffer secondary trauma as a result of their emotional involvement with distressing situations. Check in with yourself, noting if you have any symptoms of anxiety or depression. These could include sleeplessness, fatigue, irritability, depression, anger, illness, guilt and withdrawal. There are resources available online to help you cope. Please use them if you need them.

Think about what you need to help yourself and those you are helping to handle the stress involved in this situation — what are some of the things you can control?

Make sure you understand how your employer will address the outbreak. Remember that your reaction to the situation may not be the same as those of your colleagues or your clients. Everybody reacts differently to stressors, including those brought on by this outbreak. Respect other people’s feelings.

Maintain proper infection control techniques such as wearing your mask, hand-washing and social distancing — and get vaccinated.

Check how realistically you are viewing the situation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has continually pointed out that the vast majority of individuals, even if they do get sick, will not become terribly ill. Avoid dramatic media and stick to credible sources of information, such as the CDC. Social media is not a great source of information.

Keep yourself grounded. Exercise, meditate. Talk to your friends on the phone. Try to get regular sleep and a healthy diet. It is not unusual for individuals to experience disruptions in both eating and sleeping during a crisis, and it is very important to try to maintain healthy habits, and to avoid strategies such as using drugs or alcohol to handle stress.

What are some of the things you can’t control? Worrying will merely aggravate the situation.

All you can do is pay attention to those things above that you can control.

There is some benefit to planning. But after you have a plan, move on and focus on living your life rather than worrying about the virus. Don’t try to control other people’s reactions. Listen and help people work through the facts concerning the virus but understand that hyping or denying the existence of a threat is not helpful.

For self-care and mental health information and resources for Maryland workers, review BHA’s Help the Helpers Clinician Letter.

For Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities

What are warning signs and risk factors that older adults and adults with disabilities may be experiencing emotional stress or anxiety?

Older adults and adults with disabilities who are impacted by an infectious disease outbreak are faced with difficult challenges. Many older adults already struggle to maintain social connections and meaningful activities because they may not have many friends and family members nearby, they may not drive, children are grown, and they are likely retired. When asked to further limit contact with the public to reduce exposure to COVID-19, they may experience increased loneliness and isolation.

Additionally, many older adults and adults with disabilities are reliant on help from family, friends or paid caregivers. Fear of not having access to this care if the caregiver becomes sick can cause stress and anxiety.

Warnings signs of stress may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating on daily activities
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Crying spells, irritability or bursts of anger
  • Difficulty eating
  • Sleep problems, like difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains or restlessness
  • Increased fatigue
  • Feeling guilty, helpless or hopeless

Older adults and adults with disabilities most at risk of experiencing severe emotional stress or anxiety include those with a history of:

  • Exposure to other traumas, including severe accidents, abuse, assault, combat or rescue work
  • Chronic medical illness or psychological disorders
  • Chronic poverty, homelessness, or discrimination
  • Those who lost a loved one or friend involved in an infectious disease outbreak
  • Those who lack economic stability and/or knowledge of the English language
  • Older adults who may lack mobility or independence
  • Older adults who rely upon others for daily assistance

What can older adults and adults with disabilities do to reduce emotional stress and anxiety?

  • Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19
  • Only consult legitimate sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for information about COVID-19
  • Engage in activities that bring comfort or joy
  • Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Make time to unwind and remember that strong feelings will fade
  • Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member
  • Call your health care provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row
  • Avoid making major life decisions

Be especially aware of scams related to COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission has identified several of them and is offering tips to protect yourself and others: ​Coronavirus Advice for Consumers​.

FAQs about Isolation and Quarantine

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Isolation​ is the separation of people with COVID-19 from others. People in isolation need to stay home and separate themselves from others as much as possible. Sharing food, utensils, bathroom facilities and sleeping quarters, as well as contact with pets, should be avoided.

Quarantine​ is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. These people may or may not get sick. People in quarantine should stay home for the duration of their quarantine period, limit their contact with other people, and monitor themselves closely for symptoms of COVID-19. Most people who are going to get sick will get sick within 2-14 days of exposure.

While 14 days is the recommended length of quarantine, there are options to reduce the length of quarantine. In most instances, people without symptoms can end quarantine after day 10 without testing or after day 7 if they have tested negative for COVID-19 on or after day 5 of their exposure. In addition, those who have been fully vaccinated and have no symptoms should still be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. They should isolate if they test positive. If quarantine is ended before the full 14 days, people should continue to monitor for symptoms and practice other preventive behaviors (e.g., mask use) through day 14.

Schools and employers may have different requirements for returning to school or work, based on local conditions and needs. Even if the health department releases you early from quarantine, your school or employer may still require a longer period of time before you can return.

How does MDH define “close contact”?

MDH follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of a “close contact” which is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. The cumulative total can be determined by adding individual exposures over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

I just tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

Follow your healthcare provider’s guidance. Most people can recover at home. It is important that you stay home and take care of yourself. Stay away, and isolate yourself from others as much as you can. Read the CDC guidance on ​What to Do if You are Sick​. Do not have visitors, unless they are caring for you.

You should also answer the call from contact tracers who will check in on your health and ask you some questions to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Answer and/or return any calls from “MD COVID.” If you do not have caller ID on your phone, look for the phone number (240) 466-4488. Please follow the guidelines they provide on the call.

When is it safe to resume normal activities after I have been in isolation?

Individuals in isolation must meet the following conditions before being around others:

  1. 10 days since symptoms first appeared (or 10 days since positive test date if you are asymptomatic), and
  2. 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and
  3. Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.*

*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.

When around others, remember to stay six feet apart and wear a face covering. This guidance is subject to change. Talk to your health care provider especially if you have a high-risk underlying health condition or if you are 65 years and older. You may need to stay away from other people longer.

When is it safe to resume normal activities after I have been in quarantine?

While 14 days is the recommended length of quarantine, there are options to reduce the length of quarantine. In most instances, people without symptoms can end quarantine after day 10 without testing or after day 7 if they have tested negative for COVID-19 on or after day 5 of their exposure. If quarantine is ended before the full 14 days, people should continue to monitor for symptoms and practice other preventive behaviors (e.g., mask use) through day 14.

If you remain symptom-free, it is usually safe to resume normal activities when 14 days have passed since your last contact with someone with COVID-19.

Will my positive COVID-19 test results be reported to anyone?

Yes. Under Maryland law, positive COVID-19 test results will be reported to the Maryland Department of Health and your local Health Department. However, your information will not be shared with the public, or when talking to people you name as having had close contact with you.

What symptoms require medical attention right away?

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency care provider if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

Let 911 or the provider know you have COVID-19. This will help them know how to care for you and keep other people from getting infected.

How can I protect my family or caregivers while recovering from COVID-19 at home?

Try to stay away from others as much as possible. Try to stay in one room and, if you can, don’t use the same bathroom as them. If you need to be around others, wear a face covering and have them wear one too. Everyone should wash their hands often. Avoid sharing anything like dishes, towels, or bedding. Make sure all high touch areas are disinfected every day. See ​Caring for Someone Sick at Home.

Caregiver Tips:

  • Wash hands often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Shared spaces in the home should have good airflow. If you can, open a window or use a fan. This will help remove COVID-19 respiratory droplets from the air.
  • Wear a disposable facemask and gloves when you touch or have contact with the patient, especially when you have contact with their blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit, urine.
  • When removing gloves and mask, first remove and dispose of gloves. Then, wash your hands right away. Next, remove and dispose of the facemask, and wash your hands again.
  • Throw out disposable face masks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse.
  • Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined trash can. Wash your hands at once after handling these items.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
  • Wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Keep soiled items away from your body. Wash laundry thoroughly.
  • Wash dishes and utensils using gloves and hot water: Handle any dishes, cups/glasses, or silverware used by the person who is sick with gloves. Wash them with soap and hot water or in a dishwasher.
  • Household members should care for any pets in the home. Do not handle pets or other animals while sick. For more information, see COVID-19 and Animals.
  • Stay at home and monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms while caring for the person who is sick.

I was already vaccinated; do I still need to isolate or quarantine?

Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. They should isolate if they test positive. Fully vaccinated people who live in a household with someone who is immunosuppressed, at increased risk of severe disease, or unvaccinated (including children <12 years of age) could also consider masking at home for 14 days following a known exposure or until they receive a negative test result. Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, if they follow the testing and masking recommendation above.

Fully vaccinated people should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

How do I get a letter to excuse me from work or school?

Contact tracers can provide a letter to excuse you from work or school. In order to receive an excuse letter, you must have completed a phone interview with a contact tracer. If you need an excuse letter, please call (240) 466-4488.

How do I get a letter so I can return to work or school?

Contact tracers can provide a letter to release you from quarantine/isolation. In order to receive a release letter, you must have completed a phone interview with a contact tracer and successfully completed your isolation or quarantine monitoring period. If you need a release letter, please call (240) 466-4488.

FAQs about Telehealth

How does telehealth work?

Telehealth uses technology to allow patients and providers in separate locations to have a real time virtual office visit. The technology can include audio-video conferencing services, video chat using FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Zoom or Skype, or a telephone-only call.

How do I get a telehealth appointment?

You can contact your health care provider to schedule a telehealth visit like you would an office visit. You may also check with your insurer.

What should I do to get ready for a telehealth visit?

  • Write down your questions
  • Make a list of your symptoms
  • Note when your symptoms started and if they have changed
  • Be ready to verify your identity
  • Be ready to talk to your provider from a quiet, private place
  • Consider trying a “visit” with someone else using the same device and location for your telehealth visit to assure everything works
  • Be ready and able to answer when your provider calls for your scheduled telehealth visit

Your provider may call from a number other than their office. Caller ID may show “Unknown Caller,” “Private,” “Blocked” or “No Caller ID.” Be sure to answer the call at your appointment time.

Is telehealth secure?

Privacy and security depend on the service or video chat that you and your provider use. Your provider must explain the telehealth service to you and any privacy or security limitations.

Are there any apps that providers should not use for a telehealth visit?

You should not use an app that is public facing like Facebook Live, Twitch or TikTok. These apps do not protect your privacy.

Do telehealth services have any consent requirements?

Your provider must get your consent for telehealth services and note it in your medical record. You may give verbal consent. A parent or guardian may give consent.

Are all telehealth services available by telephone only?

A provider can evaluate medical devices, refer you to health care services, provide treatment and issue most prescriptions. However, some services are not eligible for telephone-only telehealth. Some examples of services that are not eligible for telephone only visits include physical therapy services, occupational therapy services and speech language services. Ask your insurer or provider what services are available.

Where can I find information on my insurer’s telehealth options?

You can use the links below to visit each insurers website for more information about telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak. Or, call the number on your member ID card.

For Medicaid HealthChoice, use the links below to visit each insurer’s website.

Maryland behavioral health providers can contact the Behavioral Health Administrative Services Organization.