Due to the recent rise in local cases of COVID-19 as well as sustained rates of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) is recommending community members take measures to prevent the spread of illness. Symptoms of all three respiratory illnesses can include sore throat, headache, stuffy nose and fever.
Ongoing surveillance of local COVID-19 data by SMCHD has shown a recent increase in several key indicators including an increase in COVID-19 rates across all age groups, an increase in Community Transmission to High, and an increase in Community Level to Medium.
Community members are encouraged to take the following preventive measures to avoid contracting and spreading these illnesses:
- Wear a more effective mask (such as N95 or KN95) in indoor public spaces or with large groups indoors. Free KN95 masks for both adults and children are available through SMCHD Health Hub and the St. Mary’s County public libraries.
- Stay up-to-date with vaccines, including this year’s seasonal flu vaccine and updated bivalent version of the COVID-19 booster. SMCHD encourages annual flu vaccine for all persons age 6 months and older. Updated bivalent COVID-19 boosters have better coverage of circulating variants of COVID-19, and are currently approved for those age 6 months and older.
- For more information or to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, please visit smchd.org/covid-19-vaccine or call (301) 475-4330.
- Get tested if you have symptoms of RSV, flu, or COVID-19. Testing allows community members to predict days they are most contagious, notify contacts who may have been exposed, and start appropriate treatment to prevent severe illness and spread of infection.
- SMCHD offers a rapid test that checks for flu, COVID-19, and RSV in one nasal swab and uses the gold standard PCR technology. See smchd.org/covid-19-testing for current available hours and locations of rapid PCR testing.
“Preventive measures like more effective masking when in indoor public spaces and getting the new bivalent COVID-19 booster can help decrease the risk of severe illness and post-COVID conditions during this time of high community transmission,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “As other respiratory illnesses such as flu and RSV combine with COVID to strain our regional healthcare systems, we ask our residents to better protect themselves and others, including those community members who may be more vulnerable to severe illness.”
For more information about COVID-19 symptoms, prevention, testing, and vaccines, visit: smchd.org/coronavirus.
For more information about the flu, including symptoms and prevention, visit: smchd.org/flu.
For more information on RSV, visit: cdc.gov/rsv/index.html.