Health Department Provides Current Guidance for Local COVID-19 Testing
Westminster, MD (March 19, 2020) – The Carroll County Health Department is providing guidance for county residents about testing for COVID-19 and how to seek care if they are not feeling well.
Testing is limited at this time because COVID-19 is a new infection, and laboratories are working rapidly to increase availability. The current guidelines will help ensure that testing is available for those who need it most, but that everyone has access to information and care to make the right decisions for themselves and their families.
Health care providers can choose to test people for COVID-19 if they feel it is indicated; however, not all providers are able to collect specimens for COVID-19 in their offices. In addition, providers may not feel your symptoms require testing for COVID-10. Priorities for testing include more serious illness or risk of complications. There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19, so testing will not change your treatment.
Current guidelines for COVID-19 testing and seeking care for respiratory symptoms*:
- If you have no symptoms, you do not need to be tested.
- If you have mild symptoms, you should stay home and monitor your symptoms. You do not need to be tested.
- If your symptoms worsen, contact your health care provider who can decide if you need testing.
- If you are over the age of 65, have other medical issues, or are immunocompromised, call your healthcare provider even if your illness is mild. You are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and your health care provider will decide if you need testing.
- If you are pregnant, call your health care provider even if your illness is mild. It is not yet known if pregnant women are at higher risk of COVID-19; your health care provider will decide if you need testing.
- If you have severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, seek immediate medical care.
*Most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
If you have any type of respiratory illness, follow these steps to isolate yourself, monitor your illness, and prevent the spread of illness to others:
- Separate yourself from other family members as much as possible
- You may wear a facemask around others if you have one
- Avoid sharing household items
- Wash your hands and clean surfaces often
- Monitor your symptoms and temperature
You may return to work and other activities after you have been without symptoms and fever-free without medication for at least 72 hours or 7 days after your symptoms started, whichever is longer. A cough may persist, so continue to cover your cough.
Employers should not require a health care provider’s note or a COVID-19 test to return to work. Employees should follow the guidance above regarding self-isolation and monitoring if sick and can return to work when those conditions are met.
People may want to be tested when they hear about a possible case of COVID-19 in their community. However, people who were in the same place as a confirmed case, such as a store or restaurant, are considered at low risk of contracting the disease. People who had prolonged, close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are at higher risk.
If you think you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 and now have symptoms, contact your health care provider for guidance. Health care providers who are part of the LifeBridge system may use the Carroll Hospital testing system. If you do not have a health care provider, call the Health Department’s COVID-19 Call Center at 410-876-4848. It is currently open from 8 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week. After hours and on weekends, residents can leave a message to be returned the next business day, or call the state hotline at 211.
Testing guidance is based on Maryland Department of Health (MDH) guidance and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidance. Access MDH’s FAQs about testing, as well as current statewide information at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/
Local public health and hospital officials are working on plans to expand testing capability in Carroll County. To learn more about COVID-19 and be informed when testing is expanded, visit the Health Department’s website at https://cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19/ and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Health Department would also like to remind everyone that the restrictions and recommendations put in place by local, state, and federal government are critical to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the impact on our healthcare system. Their new Carroll CARES campaign thanks residents for their efforts to protect our community.