Find answers to some common questions you may have about COVID-19.

Contact your primary care physician or email us at [email protected] if you do not see your questions answered here.

COVID-19 – Symptoms and Spread

What is COVID-19?

According to the CDC, COVID-19 is caused by a respiratory virus. It was first identified December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. COVID-19 has infection millions of people around the world, causing many illnesses and even deaths. The symptoms can range from none or mild to severe. 

Maryland Department of Health has orders in place to reduce COVID-19 spread. 

  • Everyone should avoid crowds.  
  • Employers should continue to encourage telework for their employees whenever possible. 
  • Everyone should continue wearing masks or face coverings in public areas, businesses and on public transportation. 
  • People should continue practicing physical distancing, staying six feet apart when possible.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The CDC has found that COVID-19 spreads in these main ways:  

  • Being closer than 6 feet to someone who has COVID-19. 
  • Breathing in respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Being around people who have COVID-19 but show no symptoms and are still able to spread the virus 

The best way to prevent getting sick or spreading COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the CDC, symptoms, or combinations of these symptoms, may occur 2-14 days after exposure and can 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 

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

Most people recover from this virus. Some people will have mild or moderate symptoms. Others may be able to recover at home and isolate themselves from others. If you are recovering at home, you should call your doctor or health care practitioners if your 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.  

Does the flu shot protect against COVID-19?

No, the flu shot is for influenza. Researchers have developed a vaccine that will provide protection to COVID-19. Each state will put in place a process to distribute the vaccine to its residents. Currently, the first people getting the vaccine are healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents.

Preventing COVID-19 

What can I do to protect myself and others? 

The CDC recommends these preventive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19:  

  • 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

Should I wear a face mask?

Face coverings should cover both your nose and your chin to properly protect against infection.

Masks and face coverings can be made from household items and include wearing a scarf or bandanna that covers the nose and mouth.

Masks and face coverings are not needed in these cases:

  • Children under the age of  2
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
  • People with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask are provided reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Surgical masks or N-95 respirators are not recommended for general public use. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. The CDC has also advised that face 3 coverings with ventilators should be avoided. 

What is social distancing?

The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through “social distancing,” which means avoiding close contact with others. Social distancing can take many forms, depending on your lifestyle and your family or living situation.

The Maryland Department of Health recommends following these habits and steps for social distancing: 

  • Avoid handshaking, hugging and other intimate types of greeting 
  • Avoid non-essential travel (your health care provider may have specific guidance for your situation) 
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces 
  • Work from home if possible for your work situation 
  • Avoid unnecessary errands — consider ways to have essential items, like food and other household supplies, brought to you through delivery services or through family or social networks 
  • It is recommended that those at a high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 stay home as much as possible and contact their health care provider.  

While social distancing and self-quarantine are needed to limit and control the spread of the disease, social connectedness is important. Virtual resources can and should be used during this time. Talk to your friends and family on the phone or over video to stay connected.

Are there vitamins or supplements that could help keep me and my family from getting sick?

Vitamin D and zinc are being studied currently, but unfortunately, there are no vitamins or supplements currently known to keep me from getting sick. Good hand hygiene and social distancing are the best practices at this time to keep you healthy. 

How can I be more prepared for COVID-19?

To be prepared in while you are stay safe from COVID-19, the CDC suggests the following:

  • 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

Older Adults and COVID-19

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

Older adults (age 60+) and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a greater risk for serious illness, and in some cases death, if they become infected with COVID-19.

Examples of pre-existing medical conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Other conditions that impact the immune system’s ability to fight germs

If you are an older adult or you have one or more chronic health conditions, you can take action to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19. The Maryland Department of Health recommends the following steps to stay safe and prevent COVID-19: 

  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others 
  • Keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content 
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible

What can I do to be prepared for COVID-19?

The CDC advises older adults to be prepared in the following ways: 

  • Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an adequate supply; refill your prescriptions if needed 
  • Have an adequate supply of non-prescriptive drugs and other health supplies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines 
  • Have enough household items, groceries, and water on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home 
  • Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social or commercial networks if you are forced to stay home for longer than your supplies allow 
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email; you may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick 
  • Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick 
  • Practice social distancing — keep distance between yourself and others  


Wash your hands after putting away groceries, touching money or handling anything that comes from outside the home. Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place. Ask anyone entering your home to wash their hands upon entering.  

  • Use commercial cleaning products to wipe high-touch points often, including: 
  • Canes, walker grips, wheelchair arms, push handles and brake handles 
  • Handrails and commode chair handrails, faucets, doorknobs, and refrigerator handles 
  • Reacher/grabber handles and pill boxes 
  • Telephones, remotes and light switches   

Children and COVID-19

What are the COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for in my child?

Parents and caregivers should look for cough, tiredness and fever in children.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting

Please Note: Children may also have difficulty breathing, either very fast and/or hard breathing that uses muscles around their ribs, neck and nose more than usual.
Contact a physician immediately if the child is having difficulty breathing.

If kids get a fever, how high will it get?

Fever temperatures can vary in viral illnesses. A fever is a temperature higher than 100.4 F in a child. There is not a specific temperature that is associated with COVID-19. Monitor your child for fever daily and before giving any fever-reducing medicine. If fever is lasting longer than 5 days or their temperature is getting higher over time, call your pediatrician.

Travel during COVID-19

Should I cancel plans to travel?


If you must travel: 

  • Avoid traveling if you are sick. 
  • Don’t travel with someone who is sick or if you have been around someone who had COVID-19 in the past 14 days. 
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. 

People who are at increased risk for serious illness are also advised to avoid nonessential air travel. CDC recommends travelers defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.

Additional Questions

If you still have questions or concerns not addressed in these FAQs, please contact your primary care physician or email us at [email protected].

A graphic of a winning ribbon from The Baltimore Sun's Readers Choice competition.
An honorable mention badge awarded in Howard Magazine's 2023 readers' choice contest.