Social distancing chalk public service announcement on a Bolton Hill corner.

Is it possible to have too much information about the coronavirus pandemic?  Probably not, although listening to news media and talk shows can be confusing and redundant.

The University of Maryland Medical System here in Baltimore has set up weekly community briefings online where you can get updates and ask questions each Friday at 2 p.m.  You need not register; just go online at

On March 10, the call lasted a half hour.  Here are the highlights:

  • Among those who have been tested and diagnosed in Maryland, 25 percent or more have no symptoms or mild symptoms – fatigue, sore muscles, perhaps low fever. So even if you don’t suspect you have the virus and you have mild symptoms, stay inside and do not go to work.  Do not go to the doctor or ER unless the symptoms get worse.
  • UMMS has a 24-hour live nurse triage line that anyone experiencing symptoms can consult: 1-888-713-0711. And the CDC coronavirus website has tips for self-diagnosing based on mild symptoms.
  • How to avoid getting or transmitting the disease? No secrets here.  1) Frequent handwashing  2) Physical distancing by at least six feet 3) Wear a mask when out of your home  4) Cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough – and then wash your hands immediately  5)  Avoid touching your face 6) Keep high-touch surfaces like door knobs and counters and computers and cell phones wiped down  7) Shop online with home or curbside delivery, where feasible  8) If you go to a store wipe down your shopping cart and avoid touching anything you aren’t buying   9) Once home wipe your purchased products (but not food)  with a mild disinfectant and 10) did we mention this: wash your hands frequently!

Stay informed and connected at a distance to friends and family.  Expect the number of diagnosed cases in Maryland to increase steadily for the rest of April.  If you need advice or counseling call 800 985-5990 or text TALK to 74174, or call 2-1-1 by phone.

– Bill Hamilton