* Rep Andy Harris R-MD, US Congress
* 07 Mar: Rep Andy Harris R-MD: Coronavirus Safety Information.
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From: “Representative Andy Harris” <MD01AHima@mail.house.gov>
Date: 6 Mar 2020 23:06:33 -0500
Delivery-date: Sat, 07 Mar 2020 06:07:26 +0200
Subject: Coronavirus Safety Information-Do Not Reply
March 6, 2020
I write today to share important public safety information. As a physician and Member of Congress, many of my constituents have contacted me with concerns about COVID-19, more commonly referred to as the coronavirus. This outbreak, which originated in China, has spread across the globe in recent months, and cases were recently confirmed in Maryland.
While Americans need to take the virus and safety precautions seriously, we should not panic. Despite new cases being reported, your current risk of getting the coronavirus in the U.S. is very low. If you do contract the illness, the majority of cases will resemble a bad cold or flu. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The elderly and immune compromised individuals are most vulnerable to serious health risks.
As you may know, coronavirus is believed to spread between persons in close proximity to one another, specifically through respiratory droplets produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. It is also believed that the virus can be contracted when someone touches an infected surface and then touches their own eyes, mouth, or nose. The best ways to avoid getting sick are to frequently wash your hands with warm soapy water and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. The things we do to keep ourselves safe from viruses like colds and the flu are exactly what we should be doing with coronavirus. Good hygiene will prevent unnecessary spread of this virus.
As you may know, Governor Hogan has declared a State of Emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, stating “…this is not a reason to panic…Marylanders should go to work or go to school tomorrow just as they normally would. At the same time, I want to continue to remind everyone to prepare themselves and continue to stay informed. I am confident in our state’s ability to respond effectively to these three cases of coronavirus as well as to any future cases, and to be a national leader in responding to this situation and in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine.” This action was partially in response to three cases recently being confirmed in Montgomery County. The individuals are being self-quarantined and are reported to be doing well. Additionally, Maryland’s State Public Health Laboratory has been approved for testing for coronavirus – meaning that rather than waiting for test results from CDC labs in Atlanta, Georgia, people who are suspected to have coronavirus may be diagnosed faster through the Maryland Department of Health lab in Baltimore.
You may also be interested to know that Medicare Part B will cover testing for coronavirus when your doctor or a health care provider orders it. Part B beneficiaries usually pay nothing for Medicare-covered clinical diagnostic laboratory tests.
Further information on the national response and state response to coronavirus can be found at the below links:
As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I fully supported President Trump’s request for emergency supplemental funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. While I had some specific concerns about the $8 billion package that was ultimately passed, given the grave national concerns of a potential pandemic, I voted in favor of this funding. In fact, I also authored an amendment last year that would have provided $300 million in additional funding for the strategic national stockpile – the largest supply of antibiotics, vaccines and medical supplies during public health emergencies that cause local supplies to run out. My amendment passed the House of Representatives but was reduced by the Senate. However, please rest assured that, as a physician, I will continue to carefully evaluate all potential responses to coronavirus here in Congress.
I hope this information is helpful. To keep up with my work in Congress, visit my website at harris.house.gov and sign up to receive updates at harris.house.gov/contact/newsletter. Should you wish to unsubscribe from my newsletter, you may follow the same link.
Member of Congress
Andy Harris M.D.
Please do not reply to this email. Instead, please send all e-mail messages (including replies) through the web link: Email Andy.