A Message From Rep. Raskin About COVID-19

February 28, 2020

Dear Neighbor, 

In response to the global outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), I want to take a few moments to share some basic information on how to keep you and your family and loved ones safe and healthy. Please be aware that while there are three persons being tested for coronavirus in Maryland, we are still unaware of any confirmed cases in our state. I offer these thoughts in order to share the critical knowledge that is available to us.


On December 31, 2019, the current outbreak of novel coronavirus was first reported in China. 

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency as nearly 10,000 coronavirus cases had been reported worldwide at that point. 

On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency for the United States to aid the healthcare community in responding to the 2019 novel coronavirus.

On February 11, 2020, the WHO announced a name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19.

Earlier today, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that there are more than 20 COVID-19 vaccines in development globally and that several therapeutics are in clinical trials. 


For confirmed COVID-19 cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. 



There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is, of course, to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid 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 and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask. 
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and care takers.
  • Wash your hands often and vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

It is currently flu season, so please get your flu vaccine if you haven't already. 
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers here.

Congressional Action

America needs a fully-funded, coordinated government response to confront the coronavirus epidemic. The House will swiftly advance a strong, strategic funding package that fully addresses the scale and seriousness of this public health crisis without pulling funds from existing programs. 

Once a vaccine is made available, I will work with my colleagues to ensure it remains affordable and accessible. 

We are calling on the Trump Administration to restore the global health security teams at the National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security that are charged with managing pandemics. These pandemic response teams were originally established after the Ebola outbreak in 2014 but were disbanded by the current Administration in 2018 to cut costs.

Next Tuesday, March 3rd at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing on coronavirus entitled "An Emerging Disease Threat: How the U.S. Is Responding to COVID-19, the Novel Coronavirus." You can watch live here.

Travel Warnings 

The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. The State Department has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory warning people to avoid traveling to China due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan. Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Most commercial air carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.

If you are still planning travel to China, I encourage you to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important messages, alerts, updates, and travel advisories while you are there.  

On arrival to the United States, travelers from China will undergo a health screening. Travelers with signs and symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) will have an additional health assessment. Travelers who have been in China during the past 14 days, including U.S. citizens or residents and others who are allowed to enter the United States, will be required to enter through specific airports and participate in monitoring by health officials until 14 days after they left China. Some people may have their movement restricted or be asked to limit their contact with others until the 14-day period has ended.

Reject the Stigma

I appreciate the work of my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to dispel the stigma, misinformation, and conspiracy theories that are disparaging and negatively affecting the Asian American community in the United States and abroad.

According to the CDC, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a specific population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region has the disease and members of particular groups are at no greater risk for contracting it. 

Being Chinese or Asian American does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. 

People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently traveled to China or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.

People who have returned from China more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms are not infected with the virus and contact with them will not give you the virus.

Additional Information

Experts have been working hard to understand COVID-19. Because new information surfaces every day, please visit the sites below to stay up to date. 

The CDC and WHO provide updates on the virus and safety information for the public and healthcare professionals.  You can sign up for the CDC's email updates here. You can sign up for the WHO's email updates here.

The State Department provides a list of travel advisories for those who are planning to travel outside of the United States.

Local Resources

The Carroll County Health Department has a Coronavirus information page here.

The Frederick County Health Department has information on Coronavirus here.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services has a Coronavirus information page here.

I maintain a dedicated Coronavirus Information page on my House website here.

The safety of my constituents and your loved ones is of the utmost importance to me and my excellent staff. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call my District office at 301-354-1000. In the meantime, be safe and well.

All Best,


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