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COVID-19 (coronavirus) is caused by a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China. This is a new virus that hasn’t caused illness in humans before. The first human case of the COVID-19 virus in the United States was identified on January 21st in a Washington state resident who had recently traveled to Wuhan. There is still much to learn about COVID-19.Currently, the reported symptoms of COVID-19 include:
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
Everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus. Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill, which means that they may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die. We learn more about COVID-19 every day, and as more information becomes available, we will continue to update and share information about the risk for severe illness.
People at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness:
Please visit the Health Department’s dedicated coronavirus webpage (health.mypgc.us/coronavirus) for the latest case counts for Prince George’s County and Maryland.
The County is currently in Phase 2 of reopening, which means essential and non-essential businesses are allowed to open as long as they follow CDC safety guidelines by requiring customers to wear masks, physically distance and abide by in-store customer capacity limits. Some outdoor and indoor activities are also allowed to open as long as those same CDC safety guidelines are followed. Please visit our County Phased Reopening webpage for detailed information about the County’s current reopening phase.
The Prince George’s County Health Department is taking the appropriate steps to keep Prince Georgians safe and healthy from the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. They are receiving regular updates and guidance from the State of Maryland Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other state and regional public health partners. The County activated the Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center at an enhanced level for Prince George’s County on March 4, 2020. The level was raised from enhanced to a partial activation by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on March 10, 2020. The County Executive declared a state of emergency on March 16, 2020. This allows us to more closely monitor the situation and quickly respond as this situation evolves, and also provides us greater access to resources to support our residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
We encourage everybody to get tested. Residents should contact their primary care physicians and ask if they have tests to offer in a timely manner. Residents can receive COVID-19 tests at one of the Prince George’s County Health Department sites it operates or supplies.
Find a list of Health Department testing sites throughout the County, as well as sites run by the State and private groups across the region, at health.mypgc.us/COVIDtesting.
The County Health Department offers FREE COVID-19 tests for individuals with or without symptoms that have been exposed to or suspected to have been exposed to a COVID-19-positive person.Patients do not need an appointment, a doctor’s prescription, or insurance to get tested. All County-run testing sites accommodate testing for those in a vehicle or on foot.
Call the coronavirus hotline at 301-883-6627 and PRESS 2 between the hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM if you have questions about the County’s testing program.
Please regularly check our testing webpage (health.mypgc.us/COVIDtesting) for updates about our testing sites and policies. Another good source for information and updates is the Health Department’s social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (all handles are @pgchealth).
There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
We encourage every resident to stay informed. The Prince George’s County Health Department has a dedicated coronavirus webpage that updates regularly: health.mypgc.us/coronavirus. The State of Maryland website is also available: Health.maryland.gov/coronavirus. If you need further assistance or have additional questions, please contact the Health Department at 301-883-6627. You can also call Maryland 2-1-1, 24 hours a day.
All levels of government, have taken some action to prevent evictions/foreclosures during this time. In Prince George’s County, no evictions from residential or commercial properties are allowed during this time. The County launched the Emergency Rental Assistance program through the Dept. of Social Services. That program is currently closed after receiving thousands of applications from residents.We also seek to provide additional support to our non-profits that provide housing counseling for homeowners who are now unemployed. We will be providing more information about these resources as they become available. You may check our resources page for the latest information to assist tenants.
The CARES Act, signed into law Mar. 27, 2020, provides 120 days of eviction relief for tenants in federally-backed housing. Specifically, you may not be served with an eviction notice until July 25, 2020, and the notice must give you 30 days to leave the property (Aug. 24, 2020).During the 120-day eviction moratorium, your landlord may not charge you late fees, penalties, or other charges for paying your rent late. It’s important to note that the eviction moratorium does not relieve you of your obligation to pay your rent. It merely forbids your landlord from evicting you during that period for late payment.
If you are a homeowner, you most likely qualify for a forbearance as a result of the federal stimulus recently passed, which means you can delay your mortgage payment (for up to a year) if you’re having a financial hardship. The most important point is that you need to call your bank; you cannot simply stop paying your mortgage. If you have a federally-backed mortgage (like FHA), your bank is required to give you an option that does not raise your monthly payment once you resume payments. Many lenders are also offering similar types of assistance for auto loans and credit cards, but again, you must call your lender.
Through our Stand Up & Deliver Program, we are partnering with local non-profits, and our local restaurants to provide food and/or prepared meals weekly to our seniors, families, and individual residents. We also continue to work with the County Council and our Office of Community Relations to identify all sites in the County that are still open and providing services to residents. Continue to monitor our website for information on pop-up food events.
While you wait for results, stay at home and self-isolate. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 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.
The County launched the COVID-19 Business Recovery Initiative to assist local small businesses facing economic hardship by the spread of COVID-19. This initiative was a public-private partnership of County and private resources that provided loans and grant funding of up to $20 million for area businesses. The COVID-19 Business Recovery Initiative assisted small, local, and minority-owned enterprises, who faced closures and layoffs, with retaining their pre-pandemic workforce and sustaining operations during the global pandemic.
The Legacy Fund for small business development was established with a $1 million grant from the Greater Washington Community Foundation to provide critically needed access to capital for small businesses in Prince George’s County. The fund was part of The Community Foundation in Prince George’s County’s equity and economic mobility initiative. The overall goal of the initiative is to eliminate social and economic disparities and help individuals, families, and collective groups improve their social and economic status. Small businesses that fit the eligibility requirements received grants for up to $10,000 to support operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, and other business-critical costs.
Due to an appropriation of $2 million of CARES Act funding, child care providers in Prince George’s County may apply for grants to cover reopening expenses through the Child Care Provider Recovery Program. Eligible child care providers may receive a grant up to $20,000 for licensed child care centers and up to $3,000 for registered family child care homes to support reopening costs, including personal protective equipment (PPE), payroll, supplies, rent, fixed debt payments and other business operating costs. Applications will be accepted between September 9, 2020, and October 2, 2020.
For those who would like more information, please contact the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation at 301-583-4650 or visit their website at www.pgcedc.com.
In addition to the $15 million relief fund for small businesses, the Prince George’s County Strategic Partnership Office is coordinating efforts with philanthropy, nonprofits, government, and small business leaders to collect and organize resources and funds for those providing COVID-19 relief efforts for Prince George’s County. This innovative public-private partnership will provide an additional $900,000 in grants to support local nonprofits to help them deliver the resources and assistance needed by the community during these challenging times. Two of the organizations raising funds include the Greater Washington Community Foundation and the United Way of the National Capital Area.
The grants will be administered by The Greater Washington Community Foundation, as part of its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. The fund was established to support emergency preparedness and response efforts to mitigate the impact on disadvantaged communities in the area. For more information on this fund and others, please visit The Greater Washington Community Foundation website at www.thecommunityfoundation.org.
The Division of Unemployment Insurance’s website and call centers are currently experiencing a high call volume due to COVID-19, result in longer than normal wait times.To file for unemployment insurance via phone, contact the Claim Center at 410-949-0022. The call center telephone hours are Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.To file online, visit: https://secure-2.dllr.state.md.us/NetClaims/Welcome.aspxIf you are having difficulty placing a call or accessing the website, claimants can e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Employers can e-mail questions to email@example.com or contact 410-767-2412. You can also contact Employ Prince George’s at 301-618-8400 or visit their website at www.employpg.org.
Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, all evictions and foreclosures have been suspended until further notice. If you are facing an illegal eviction, you may seek free legal assistance from any the following:
Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Inc.firstname.lastname@example.org://www.clspgc.org/
Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. of Prince George’s County301-429-8743
District Court Self-Help Resource Centers410-260-1392https://mdcourts.gov/selfhelp
Maryland Legal Aid866-635-2948https://www.mdlab.org/
CASA (MD, Prince George’s County Welcome Center)240-821-5816 or 240-491-5784https://wearecasa.org/
You are receiving a call from a Prince George’s County Health Department employee because you were given a free COVID-19 diagnostic test at one of the County’s testing sites. The employee is calling to obtain your medical insurance information. This information will only be used to bill your health insurance company to reimburse the County for the cost of your COVID-19 test.
The information on the front and back of your insurance card is required – ID number, relationship to the insured and the address of the insurance company; the full name of the individual who received the COVID-19 test, their address as listed with the insurance plan, phone number, and date of birth.
No. All COVID-19 diagnostic tests remain free in Prince George’s County. There are no out-of-pocket costs to you and your health insurance carrier cannot hold you responsible for any deductible or co-pay.
The charges that will be submitted to your insurance will only be those related to the test, i.e., the assessment and swab specimen obtained by the nurse.
Your account will be adjusted to reflect no charge for the services. You will not be responsible for any non-covered services.
Your insurance company will provide you an explanation of benefits showing exactly what was charged, and what was paid to the Prince George’s County Health Department. You will not receive a bill.
Don’t worry. Whether you have health insurance or not, the Health Department employee will not ask for any payment information from you. You will not be charged for your COVID-19 test, regardless of your insurance coverage.
The Prince George’s County Health Department will know you were administered a diagnostic COVID-19 test based on the information you provided to us at the time of your COVID-19 test at one of our testing sites. The employee who calls you will not have access to your test results. The employee only has the demographic information that allows him/her to make the phone call.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT) passed in April 2020 mandates that insurance companies pay for COVID-19 testing. The CARES ACT ensures that residents who get tested for COVID-19 are not held responsible for any out-of-pocket costs. Residents are not held responsible for any deductible or co-pay.
We need your health insurance information so we can bill your health insurance provider for the cost of your COVID-19 test.
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the Health Department has worked very hard to get as many residents tested as possible, especially residents who did not have insurance.
Our focus has been on finding and fighting the virus to keep all residents healthy and to save as many lives as possible.
Since the virus will be with us for a while, the Health Department is fighting this pandemic for the long haul and must maintain its ability to provide free COVID-19 testing at no cost to residents. The Health Department does not get COVID-19 tests for free. By obtaining health insurance information from those who have received a test, and billing the insurance company for reimbursement, we are able to ensure that the tests remain at no cost.
No. We will waive any patient responsibility amount on the EOB statement. You can verify this information with your health insurance provider. You will not be held responsible for paying the amount, as mandated by the CARES Act. Insurance carriers cannot hold patients responsible for any deductible or co-pay.
The Prince George’s County Health Department’s phone calls are part of an effort to ensure that county residents continue to receive free COVID-19 testing. We will not use your personal information for any other activity other than contacting your health insurance company. The Health Department is HIPAA compliant. This means we follow the same HIPAA guidance as other medical practices and we meet the federal requirements for the security and privacy of your protected health information.
If you have additional questions, feel free to call the Health Department’s Billing Department at (301) 883-3328 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You may also submit your questions via email to: BillingCommunications@co.pg.md.us or Debra Adams, Billing Manager at (301)883-6125.
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.
Operation Warp Speed is a partnership among components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Defense to help develop, make and distribute millions of vaccine doses for COVID-19 as quickly as possible while ensuring that the vaccines are safe and effective. Operation Warp Speed has been working since the pandemic started to develop COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make a COVID-19 vaccine(s) available. Vaccines undergo a series of rigorous clinical trials using thousands of study participants to generate data and other information for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine their safety and effectiveness to approve or authorize for emergency use. Following approval or authorization, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events or possible side effects. Visit the CDC’s website for more information about ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.—including information about specific vaccine monitoring systems.
COVID-19 infections can be a minor hindrance or lead to severe disease or even death. There are many reasons to get vaccinated.
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from 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 once it isavailable. Maryland is also making sure that people have the information they need to be confident in deciding to get vaccinated. Key priorities include:
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.
Prince George’s County recently launched its “Proud to be Protected” campaign to encourage all Prince Georgians to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes widely available. We recognize the hesitancy and concerns that our residents have regarding this vaccine, so our goal is to ensure every Prince Georgian has the information needed to fully understand how the vaccine will protect them from 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.
Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if somepeople don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.
The number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that will be needed will depend on the type of vaccine that is administered. The coronavirus vaccines being studied are evaluating one or two doses. When giving two doses, they are usually given approximately one month apart. Since several vaccines are likely to become available over time, it is possible that some vaccines will require one dose while others may require two doses. It is also possible that over time, additional doses of vaccine may be needed to provide continued protection. It will take ongoing evaluation over several months and years to understand how our immune systems respond to this virus and how vaccines that become available assist in that response.
When a vaccine is authorized, we will only have information about the length of immunity for as long as people were vaccinated during the trials. For example, if the first people in the study were vaccinated in July 2020 and the vaccine is licensed in December 2020, we will only have information about the immune response up to 5 months after vaccination. The vaccine manufacturer will continue to monitor vaccine recipients for several months or more, so that over time, we will continue to get a better picture of the durability of immunity. With this information, we will be better able to understand whether vaccines against COVID-19 will require annual dosing like influenza.
Generally, it takes a week or two for immunity to develop following vaccination, but the specific timeline for any coronavirus vaccine will depend to some extent on which type of vaccine is licensed. For example, a live, weakened vaccine requires time to reproduce in the body, whereas an inactivated vaccine is given at a dose that will generate immunity. On the other hand, because the live, weakened vaccine reproduces to generate immunity, it might provide a more robust immune response than an inactivated vaccine.
When the FDA first authorizes or approves the use of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, there will be a limited supply, and not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. It is understandable how concerning this would be for people, especially for those who are at increased risk for serious illness from this virus and for their loved ones. That is why, early in the response, the federal government began investing in select vaccine manufacturers to help them increase their ability to quickly make and distribute a large amount of COVID-19 vaccine. This will allow the United States to start with as much vaccine as possible and continually increase the supply in the weeks and months to follow. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get aCOVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. Several thousand vaccination providers will be available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
MDH will focus this plan on three major phases of vaccine availability and distribution.
Phase 1 will begin when there is limited vaccine availability and will focus on target priority groups to receive vaccination. These groups will include those at highest risk of exposure to or developing complications from COVID-19, including:
Phase 2 will include people in critical infrastructure roles, including essential non-healthcare and transportation workers, and people at moderately higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.
Phase 3 will be a wide-scale distribution of the vaccine associated with broad availability to the general population of the state.
The move to advanced phases will be based on the availability of COVID vaccine, achievement of targeted metrics for vaccination of higher priority groups or notification by CDC and state authorities that the general public phase can begin.
According to the CDC, vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
We do not know how long antibodies last after infection or whether they will protect against reinfection. So, while vaccine trials are being completed, it will be important for scientists to continue learning about COVID-19, particularly whether people who got sick with COVID-19 can be re-infected. The current vaccine trials will include immunizing people who have never been infected with COVID-19 as well as those who have been previously infected. We will soon know whether vaccination of those who have been previously infected affords more complete or longer lasting protection than those who were previously infected but haven’t been vaccinated.
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.
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following the CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19. However, flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.
Efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, have led to decreased use of routine preventive medical services, including immunization services. Ensuring that you continue or start getting routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting yourself and others from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, including flu. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, which further strain the healthcare system.For the upcoming flu season, flu vaccination will be very important to reduce flu because it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and lessen the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic. A flu vaccine may also provide several individual health benefits, including keeping you from getting sick with flu, reducing the severity of your illness if you do get the flu and reducing your risk of a flu-associated hospitalization. For more information about seasonal influenza in Maryland, visit https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/influenza/Pages/home.aspx.
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.
Prince George’s County entered Phase 1B on January 18, 2021 and enters Phase 1C for pre-registration on January 25, 2021. Individuals in prior phases are still eligible to sign up to receive vaccines as we move to additional phases. Vaccines are currently being administered at the Health Department’s Cheverly Health Center and the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Complex. At this time, these locations require an appointment in order to receive a vaccine. Additional vaccination sites are scheduled to be operational soon.
Individuals who live or work in the County that wish to receive a vaccine should complete the County Health Department’s pre-registration form. Those who are eligible for a vaccine will receive a link with instructions on how to schedule an appointment, as appointments become available. Current appointments are limited due to a limited supply of vaccines in the County and State. At this time, it may take several weeks or longer to receive an appointment, especially for individuals in Phase 1C.
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. Information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. At this time, there is no evidence that these variants can evade the recently developed vaccines or cause more severe illness or increased risk of death.
For more information, see the CDC Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants.
Vaccination distribution is an ongoing process. It will take several weeks to months to get through each phase. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress in each phase and when we are ready to move into the next phase. Below is a tentative timeline for our vaccination distribution plan, which is subject to change based on a number of factors.
All individuals who live or work in Prince George’s County are required to fill out the County Health Department’s pre-registration form if they wish to schedule a vaccine appointment. When you are eligible to receive a vaccine based on the County’s phased distribution plan AND as vaccine appointments become available based on supply, the Health Department will follow up via email with a link and instructions on how to schedule your appointment. Based on the current supply of vaccines, it may take several weeks or longer for the Health Department to follow up with available appointments.