Senator Van Hollen visits NIH to receive an update from the team working to research and develop a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Coronavirus Resource Page

[Last updated: March 26, 2020] 

My top priority is to ensure that all Marylanders and our health care providers have the information and resources they need to protect themselves from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). That's why I fought to pass an $8.3 billion emergency funding package in Congress, which the President just signed into law.

I'm working with partners on the county, state, and federal levels to ensure that we have the resources and policies in place to confront this outbreak. Additionally, I am fighting for policies that will help contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as paid sick leave and more expansive telework options. I visited the National Institutes of Health to hear directly from the scientists working to develop a potential COVID-19 vaccine and I'm actively working to ensure that any vaccines or treatments developed for COVID-19 are affordable and accessible to all.

On March 5, 2020, Maryland announced its first cases of COVID-19. I have remained in close contact with Governor Hogan, the Maryland Department of Health, and other local officials. I completely understand that COVID-19 in our communities has caused anxiety among Marylanders, but residents should not panic; rather, we should all be taking the precautions recommended by our public health experts. Below you'll find answers to common questions about the coronavirus outbreak.

For updates on COVID-19 in the State of Maryland, please visit MDH's website. Additionally, resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here

 Open Enrollment Deadline Extended Until April 15
If you are uninsured and need health insurance, Maryland has a special open enrollment period in light of the coronavirus outbreak. You have until April 15th to sign up. Find out more information here.

Tax Filing Deadline Extended Until July 15
Following our requests and introduction of legislation, the Administration has now announced it will push back the tax filing deadline to July 15th. American families can now take a breath and focus on taking care of themselves and their loved ones. Find out more information here.

Red Cross Blood Drive
As of March 18, nearly 4,500 American Red Cross blood drives have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in around 150,000 fewer blood donations. This could be devastating to hospitals around the country as we deal with this public health crisis. If you are healthy and eligible, please sign up to donate blood to help prevent a shortage. It’s safe and vitally important.

You can stay up-to-date on Senator Van Hollen's efforts to bolster the COVID-19 response below and by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

Contacting Senator Van Hollen's Office

In order to follow the guidance of public health officials and ensure the safety of constituents and staff due to COVID-19, the majority of Senator Van Hollen’s staff will be teleworking until further notice. As a result, our offices will be closed to the public, but all phone lines will remain fully open and fully staffed. Constituents seeking assistance can reach our constituent services teams at: (301) 545-1500. Those with general questions or concerns about federal policy can reach our Capitol Hill team at: (202) 224-4654. Urgent issues for my office can be emailed to assistance@vanhollen.senate.gov.

We urge all constituents to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Maryland Department of Health guidelines to protect themselves and their families and we look forward to serving you in person at our offices soon.

COVID-19 Resources
COVID-19 is a virus strain, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China, which has only spread in people since December 2019.
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, so preventing exposure is the best way to avoid illness. The evidence shows that simple precautions – like proper handwashing and staying home when you are sick – are proven ways to prevent the spread of germs and disease. CDC recommends the following precautions:
  • Clean your hands often.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick, like older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, lung disease).
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and immediately wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
    • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

According to CDC, “the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person: (1) Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and (2) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”

“People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

“Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases,” according to CDC. Fever, cough, or shortness of breath may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

According to the CDC, “If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Seek medical care right away if your illness is worsening (for example, if you have difficulty breathing). Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department: your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.”
 
Should you find yourself or a loved one in this position, the CDC has issued the following recommendations:
  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home—known as home isolation. Limit contact with pets and animals.
  • Call ahead and inform your health care provider about your exposure or suspected exposure so that they can protect other patients before your arrival.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing personal items.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
  • Monitor your symptoms.

Now is the time to be actively preparing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. I know there are a lot of questions about how employers, schools, childcare centers, colleges, groups organizing large community gatherings, healthcare settings, and others should be preparing. The latest guidance on recommended preparations for these and other entities can be found here.