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Covid-19 Essentials

Page last updated at 17 p.m. on April 14, 2022

Due to very low positivity rates and increased vaccination rates in our region, CalvertHealth will not require COVID testing for scheduled, elective surgeries for fully vaccinated patients. This will begin on Tuesday April 14th.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated for COVID two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series or two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccinated individuals are required to have documentation on file of their vaccination prior to their procedure. A photo of the vaccination card can be sent to [email protected] with the date of the surgery in the subject line of the email.

It’s important to note that some exceptions will apply. Patients whose surgical procedures require an overnight stay in the hospital or those that are symptomatic – whether vaccinated or not – will need to provide a COVID test prior to the procedure date. In addition, individuals who are on immunosuppressive drug therapy or chemotherapy will be required to have a COVID test even if they are fully vaccinated.

All of these requirements will be discussed at the patient’s pre-operative appointment. Please remember that all other COVID safety protocols are in place including masking when in a healthcare setting.

Covid-19 Essential Facts and Tips

COVID-19 is a test of societies, of governments, of communities and of individuals. It is a time for solidarity and cooperation to tackle the virus, and to mitigate the effects, often unintended, of measures designed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Respect for human rights across the spectrum, including economic, social, cultural, and civil and political rights, will be fundamental to the success of the public health response and recovery from the pandemic.

Access to health care

  • Health strategies should address not only the medical dimensions of the pandemic but also the immediate, medium and long-term human rights and gender-specific consequences of measures taken as part of the health response.
  • Treatment should be available to everyone without discrimination, including the most vulnerable and marginalized. This means addressing pre-existing barriers to access and ensuring that no one is denied timely and appropriate treatment because they lack the means to pay for it, on a discriminatory basis, including age, disability, gender, or sexual orientation, or because stigma prevents them from getting treatment.
  • Collect and make public anonymized disaggregated data related to the pandemic, at a minimum by sex, age, and disability, to inform health responses and identify those most at risk of being left behind.

Business and human rights

  • All businesses have an independent responsibility to respect human rights, as set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, even in times of economic hardship and public health crisis, and regardless of whether and how governments are meeting their own obligations.
  • State interventions to alleviate the economic impact of COVID- 19 in the form of economic aid, stimulus packages or other targeted interventions for business enterprises should stipulate that beneficiary companies should follow the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. At the core of States’ measures to support companies in the crisis should be protection of workers, particularly those in the most precarious situations.

Emergency measures

  • Governments have to take difficult decisions in response to COVID-19. International law allows emergency measures in response to significant threats – but measures that restrict human rights should be proportionate to the evaluated risk, necessary and applied in a non-discriminatory way. This means having a specific focus and duration, and taking the least intrusive approach possible to protect public health.
  • When states of emergency are declared, states that are parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should meet their legal obligation to provide formal notification through the UN Secretary-General. Regional human rights treaties include similar obligations.
  • With regard to COVID-19, emergency powers must only be used for legitimate public health goals, not used as a basis to quash dissent, silence the work of human rights defenders or journalists, deny other human rights or take any other steps that are not strictly necessary to address the health situation.
  • Some rights cannot be restricted even during a state of emergency (nonderogable), including the principle of non-refoulement, the prohibition of collective expulsion, the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and others.
  • Governments should inform the affected population of what the emergency measures are, where they apply and for how long they are intended to remain in effect, and should update this information regularly and make it widely available.
  • As soon as feasible, it will be important for Governments to ensure a return to life as normal and not use emergency powers to indefinitely regulate day-to-day life, recognising that the response must match the needs of different phases of this crisis.


  • The COVID-19 crisis reveals a clear truth about catastrophic risk in an increasingly globalized world: an effective response requires immediate, ambitious and evidence-based preventive action at the international level. To avert future global threats, including pandemics, we must protect rights to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment upon which we all depend for our health and wellbeing.
  • A human rights-based approach to the COVID-19 crisis is also needed to address its unequal impacts on the poor, vulnerable and marginalized and its underlying drivers, including environmental degradation.
  • The following key messages on human rights, the environment and COVID-19 highlight essential human rights obligations and responsibilities of States and others, including businesses, in addressing and responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Information and participation

  • Relevant information on the COVID-19 pandemic and response should reach all people, without exception. This requires making information available in readily understandable formats and languages, including indigenous languages and those of national, ethnic and religious minorities, and adapting information for people with specific needs, including the visually- and hearing-impaired, and reaching those with limited or no ability to read or with no internet access.
  • Internet access is essential to ensuring that information reaches those affected by the virus. Governments should end any existing internet disruptions or shutdowns and keep the internet on. States should also work to ensure the broadest possible access to internet service by taking steps to bridge digital divides, including the gender digital divide
  • People have a right to participate in decision-making that affects their lives. Being open and transparent, and involving those affected in decision-making is key to ensuring people participate in measures designed to protect their own health and that of the wider population, and that those measures also reflect their specific situations and needs.
  • Medical professionals and relevant experts, must be able to speak freely and share information with each other and the public. Journalists and the media should be able to report on the pandemic, including coverage that is critical of government responses, without fear or censorship. Concerted efforts should be made at the international and national levels to counter false or misleading information that fuels fear and prejudice.
  • Incorporating the perspectives, voices and knowledge of women in outbreak preparedness and response is essential, including ensuring their representation, participation and leadership roles in global, regional and national COVID-19 spaces.

International cooperation and solidarity

  • COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated inequalities within and among countries. There is an urgent need for strengthened multilateralism and international cooperation by States and all actors in a spirit of global solidarity and shared responsibility.
  • Financial and technical support to countries and communities in need can save lives and livelihoods. The collective responses of the international community in the short and long term must be guided by all human rights including the right to development. Underscored by international solidarity and cooperation, the right to development will help to build back better, through national and global policies in trade, investment and finance, and an enabling environment for sustainable development.

Older persons

  • Older persons have the same rights as any other age group, and they should be protected equally during the pandemic. Special attention should be paid to the particular risks faced by older persons, including isolation and neglect resulting from physical distancing and age-based discrimination in access to medical treatment and other support.
  • Ensure that medical decisions are based on individualized clinical assessments, medical need, ethical criteria and on the best available scientific evidence and not on age or disability.

Social and economic impacts

  • The right to education needs to be protected in the case of school closures; for example, and where possible, through online accessible and adapted learning, and specialised TV and radio broadcasts. Girls may be disproportionately affected, as many already face significant obstacles to go to school, and may now be expected to take on increased care work at home. Limited educational opportunities for those without access to the internet and other remote learning tools risks deepening inequalities and poverty. Girls and boys may also lose access to nutritious food and other services schools often provide, such as mental health and sexual and reproductive health education.
  • Social protection schemes should pay particular attention to children due to the heightened vulnerabilities they face based on their early stage of physical, intellectual and emotional development. Best practices include cash transfers directed at families with children, which have been effective in the protection of children’s rights.
  • Good practices by governments, the public and private sector, international and national organisations to alleviate both the negative socio-economic effects of this crisis should be shared.
  • The occupational health and safety of those working during this crisis, particularly health workers and support staff, the majority of who are women, should be assessed and addressed. Health workers and others working in at-risk environments should be provided with quality personal protective equipment as needed. No one should feel forced to work in conditions that unnecessarily endanger their health because they fear losing a job or a paycheck.
  • Fiscal stimulus and social protection packages aimed directly at those least able to cope with the crisis are essential to mitigating the devastating consequences of the pandemic. Immediate economic relief measures such as guaranteed paid sick leave, extended unemployment benefits, food distribution, child care, and universal basic income can help safeguard against the acute effects of the crisis.

Ways to Prevent COVID-19 Infection

What can I do to protect myself and others from COVID-19?

The following actions help prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other coronaviruses and influenza.

  • Wear a face mask in public indoor spaces.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Socialize outdoors.
  • Get vaccinated and boosted as soon as you are eligible.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Minimize touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces regularly.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.

How does coronavirus spread?

The coronavirus spreads mainly from person to person. A person infected with coronavirus — even one with no symptoms — may emit aerosols when they talk or breathe. Aerosols are infectious viral particles that can float or drift around in the air for up to three hours. Another person can breathe in these aerosols and become infected with the coronavirus. When people are in close contact with one another, droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes may land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, or possibly be inhaled into their lungs.

Transmission is less likely to happen outdoors, where air currents scatter and dilute the virus, than in a home, office, or other confined space with limited air circulation. The risk of spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects is considered to be extremely low. According to the CDC, each contact with a contaminated surface has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection. The virus may be shed in saliva, semen, and feces; whether it is shed in vaginal fluids isn’t known. Kissing can transmit the virus. Transmission of the virus through feces, or during vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex, appears to be extremely unlikely at this time.

Should I wear a face mask?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through viral particles that float in the air or through droplets containing virus. Even people who are infected but do not have symptoms, or have not yet developed symptoms, can infect others. Masks reduce the amount of virus we breathe in and breathe out. Combined with the vaccines and boosters, masks provide a one-two punch that reduces the risk of spread. Masks also provide protection for the wearer, even those who are fully vaccinated.

As the latest COVID surge relaxes its grip in the US, many states, towns, and schools are removing their indoor mask mandates. The CDC also issued updated guidelines, tying mask use recommendations to levels of the virus in a given community. COVID levels may be categorized as low, medium, or high, and are calculated by looking at hospital beds being used by COVID patients, COVID-related hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

According to the new CDC guidelines, everyone should mask indoors in public when COVID levels are high. People who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to mask indoors when COVID levels are medium. When community levels are low, individuals can decide whether to mask indoors based on their individual risks and preferences.

Here are some points to consider as you decide whether you and your family should continue masking indoors.

  • We’re still in the midst of a pandemic. As of late February 2022, there are nearly 2,500 COVID deaths per day in the US.
  • Your decision should reflect your personal health risks: if you or a member of your family is at increased risk for infection or severe COVID illness, or if you are unvaccinated, continue masking indoors.
  • Masking policies can’t always keep up with the virus. When COVID cases are high, consider masking indoors regardless of whether there’s a mask mandate in place.
  • Your decision to mask indoors may change over time, and you may return to wearing a mask indoors after a period of not masking indoors.
  • Masking reduces the risk of spread to vulnerable populations: young children who are not yet eligible for vaccines, people with weakened immune systems, older adults who are at increased risk for severe illness, and others who are unvaccinated.
  • Masks don’t just help to flatten the curve; they also help to prevent surges from happening in the first place.

A high-quality, well-fitting mask provides good protection even if people around you are unmasked. High quality KN95, KF94, and N95 masks have the tightest fit and the best filtration. Make sure your mask completely covers your nose and mouth, and fits snugly against the sides of your face without leaving any gaps. Transmission is much less likely to occur outdoors, and masks are not needed in most outdoor settings.

What kind of mask should I wear?

Omicron is the most contagious variant we have come across yet, so high-quality, well-fitting masks are more important than ever. This is true for everyone, and even more so for anyone who is unvaccinated, at increased risk for severe illness, or caring for someone with COVID-19.

Not all masks are created equal. High quality KN95, KF94, and N95 masks have the tightest fit and the best filtration. Surgical masks are also effective at filtering out small viral particles. You can wear a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask to improve the fit. Or, you can adjust a surgical mask for a tighter fit using a method called “knotting and tucking.” To knot and tuck a surgical mask, knot the ear loops of a 3-ply face mask where they join the edge of the mask, then fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges. For video instructions on how to knot and tuck a surgical mask, click here. Avoid single-layer cloth masks, which may not be up to the task.  When it comes to fit, make sure your mask completely covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly against the sides of your face without leaving any gaps.

What is physical distancing and why is it important?

The COVID-19 virus primarily spreads when one person breathes in droplets or aerosols that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or breathes. Physical distancing refers to actions taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough distance (six feet or more) between yourself and another person to avoid getting infected or infecting someone else. Directives to work from home, and canceling in-person meetings and larger events help enforce physical distancing at a community level.

If I want to visit friends and family, does it matter whether we meet indoors or outdoors?

You are better off meeting friends and family outdoors. We know that coronavirus spreads when someone breathes in virus that an infected person emits through coughs or sneezes, or when they talk or breathe. Research has shown that in a confined, laboratory setting, droplets containing viral particles can remain afloat for eight to 14 minutes. Smaller infectious viral particles, called aerosols, can drift around in the air even longer.

What precautions can I take when grocery shopping?

In the grocery store, maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and other shoppers. Wipe frequently touched surfaces like grocery carts or basket handles with disinfectant wipes. Avoid touching your face. Wearing a mask helps remind you not to touch your face and further reduces spread of the virus. Use hand sanitizer before leaving the store. Wash your hands as soon as you get home. If you are older than 65 or at increased risk for any reason, try to limit trips to the grocery store. Ask a neighbor or friend to pick up groceries and leave them outside your house. Or have groceries delivered to your home.

Is it safe to travel once I’m vaccinated? What if I’m not vaccinated?

As a general rule, travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19, especially if you are not vaccinated. Guidance from the CDC rstates that anyone traveling by public transportation, including plane, train, or bus, must be masked while traveling, and while in airports and train and bus stations. Requirements for vaccination and COVID-19 testing may vary by carrier, geographic location, and your vaccination status. In addition to wearing a well-fitting mask, all travelers should maintain a physical distance of six feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash hands often. Anyone who is sick or who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not travel by public transportation if at all possible.

Can a person who has been infected with coronavirus get infected again?

The immune system responds to COVID-19 infection by stimulating white blood cells called lymphocytes to form antibodies that fight the infection. These antibodies and lymphocytes retain a temporary protective effect against reinfection. But it is only temporary. There have been many confirmed cases of reinfection with COVID-19. In other words, a person got sick with COVID-19, recovered, and then became infected again.

This has been especially true as the coronavirus has mutated into COVID-19 variants. There was a rise in reinfections with the Delta variant, and an explosive increase in the reinfection rate due to the Omicron variant. Omicron has about 50 mutations, including more than 30 mutations on the spike protein, the region of the virus that our immune systems recognize after previous infection. Because of this, Omicron is more capable than previous variants of evading our immune defenses and causing reinfection.

We have learned that vaccination plus a booster dose strengthens the natural immune response, even in those who have been previously infected, and further reduces the risk of reinfection. Although breakthrough infections after vaccination are also more common with Omicron than previous variants, vaccination continues to protect well against severe illness.