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How to stop the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 - Prevention; 2019 Novel Coronavirus - Prevention; SARS CoV 2 - Prevention

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a serious disease, mainly of the respiratory system, affecting many people around the globe. It can cause mild to severe illness and even death. COVID-19 spreads easily between people. Learn how to protect yourself and others from this illness.

Information

HOW COVID-19 SPREADS

COVID-19 is an illness caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people within close contact (about 6 feet or 2 meters). When someone with the illness coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes, droplets carrying the virus spray into the air. You can catch the illness if you breathe in these droplets.

In some instances, COVID-19 may spread through the air and infect people who are more than 6 feet away. Small droplets and particles can remain in the air for minutes to hours. This is called airborne transmission, and it occurs mainly in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. However, it is more common for COVID-19 to spread through close contact.

Less often, the illness can spread if you touch a surface with the virus on it, and then touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or face. But this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

The risk of spreading COVID-19 is higher when you interact closely with others who are not in your household for longer periods of time.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS

You can spread COVID-19 before you show symptoms. Some people with the illness never have symptoms, but can still spread the disease. However, there are ways to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19. These tips can help you and others stay safe:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine. Being vaccinated helps protect you from getting and spreading COVID-19. Being vaccinated can also help protect you from serious illness if you do get the virus.
  • Make sure children ages 5 years and older get the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting children and teens vaccinated helps prevent them from spreading COVID-19 to older relatives and young siblings and friends who can't get the vaccine. It also helps protect children and teens from serious illness.
  • If you are vaccinated, and in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, you should always wear a face mask or face cover with at least 2 layers when you are indoors in public.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, or if you have a weakened immune system, you should always wear a face mask indoors in public regardless of how active COVID-19 is in your community.
  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart from other people who are not in your household, even if you are vaccinated or are wearing a mask.
  • Check the public health department website for information on COVID-19 in your area and follow local guidelines.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces and crowded areas, even if you are vaccinated. If you are indoors, open windows to help bring in outdoor air, if possible. Spending time outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces can help reduce your exposure to respiratory droplets.
  • Wash your hands many times a day with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Do this before eating or preparing food, after using the toilet, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Droplets that are released when a person sneezes or coughs are infectious. Throw away the tissue after use.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Do not share personal items such as cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Wash anything you have used in soap and water.
  • Clean all "high-touch" areas in the home, such as doorknobs, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, toilets, phones, tablets, counters, and other surfaces. Use a household cleaning spray and follow instructions for use.
  • Know the symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop any symptoms, call your health care provider.

HOME ISOLATION

If you have COVID-19 or have symptoms of it, you must isolate yourself at home and avoid contact with other people, both inside and outside your home, to avoid spreading the illness. This is called home isolation (also known as "self-quarantine").

  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Do not leave your home except to get medical care.
  • Do not travel while sick. Do not use public transportation or taxis.
  • Keep track of your symptoms. You may receive instructions on how to check and report your symptoms.
  • Use a face mask or cloth face cover with at least 2 layers when you see your health care provider and anytime other people are in the same room with you. If you can't wear a mask, for example, due to breathing problems, people in your home should wear a mask if they need to be in the same room with you.
  • Follow the same hygiene practices everyone should follow: cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands, don't touch your face, don't share personal items, and clean high-touch areas in the home.

You should remain at home, avoid contact with people, and follow the guidance of your provider and local health department about when to stop home isolation.

For the most up-to-date news and information about COVID-19, you can visit the following websites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

World Health Organization website. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic - www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html. Updated November 4, 2021. Accessed November 17, 2021.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19: How COVID-19 spreads. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html. Updated July 14, 2021. Accessed October 25, 2021.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19: How to protect yourself and others. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html. Updated August 13, 2021. Accessed October 25, 2021.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19: Use of cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html. Updated August 12, 2021. Accessed October 25, 2021.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Your guide to masks. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html. Updated October 25, 2021. Accessed October 25, 2021.

Text only

  • COVID-19

    COVID-19 - illustration

    Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes COVID-19, a respiratory illness that ranges from mild symptoms to pneumonia or even death. Symptoms occur within 2 to 14 days from exposure to the virus and may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of sense of taste or smell. COVID-19 may be more severe in people who are older or who have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.

    COVID-19

    illustration

  • Handwashing

    Handwashing - illustration

    Steps for proper handwashing include: 1. Take off any jewelry. 2. Wet your hands with clean water. 3. Apply soap and lather your hands by rubbing them together for at least 20 seconds. 4. Make sure you also lather the back of the hands, between the fingers, the thumb, and under the nails. Rinse well. 5. Dry with a clean towel or air dry. Proper handwashing is the best way to avoid spreading germs to help prevent infection.

    Handwashing

    illustration

  • Face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19

    Face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 - illustration

    Using face masks correctly in public settings helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 spreads to people within close contact via small droplets sprayed into the air by someone with the disease who coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. Wearing face masks or cloth face coverings that cover the nose, mouth, and chin and fit snuggly across your cheeks helps reduce the spray of respiratory droplets from the nose and mouth. Wearing a face mask may also protect you from infection.

    Face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19

    illustration

  • How to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19

    How to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 - illustration

    Wearing face masks or cloth face coverings helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. For masks to work, they have to be worn properly. Choose a mask with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric that completely covers your mouth and nose and fits snugly against the sides of your face, leaving no gaps. Do not wear a mask that is too loose on the sides. Do not pull the mask low on your nose, below your nose, or below your mouth or chin. Do not leave your chin or your mouth exposed or dangle the mask from one ear. Do not wear the mask in any other way that does not entirely cover your mouth and nose. Wash your hands before and after wearing the mask and use only the loops of the mask to put it on and take it off. Do not touch the front of the mask while wearing it. If you use a cloth mask, wash it and dry it daily and keep it in a clean, dry place.

    How to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19

    illustration

  • COVID-19 vaccine

    COVID-19 vaccine - illustration

    COVID-19 vaccines protect people from getting COVID-19. They are a vital tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccine works with your body’s immune system against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.While COVID-19 vaccines will not make you sick, they may cause certain side effects and flu-like symptoms. This is to be expected. These symptoms may be a sign that your body is making antibodies against the virus. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

    COVID-19 vaccine

    illustration

    • COVID-19

      COVID-19 - illustration

      Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes COVID-19, a respiratory illness that ranges from mild symptoms to pneumonia or even death. Symptoms occur within 2 to 14 days from exposure to the virus and may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of sense of taste or smell. COVID-19 may be more severe in people who are older or who have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.

      COVID-19

      illustration

    • Handwashing

      Handwashing - illustration

      Steps for proper handwashing include: 1. Take off any jewelry. 2. Wet your hands with clean water. 3. Apply soap and lather your hands by rubbing them together for at least 20 seconds. 4. Make sure you also lather the back of the hands, between the fingers, the thumb, and under the nails. Rinse well. 5. Dry with a clean towel or air dry. Proper handwashing is the best way to avoid spreading germs to help prevent infection.

      Handwashing

      illustration

    • Face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19

      Face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 - illustration

      Using face masks correctly in public settings helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 spreads to people within close contact via small droplets sprayed into the air by someone with the disease who coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. Wearing face masks or cloth face coverings that cover the nose, mouth, and chin and fit snuggly across your cheeks helps reduce the spray of respiratory droplets from the nose and mouth. Wearing a face mask may also protect you from infection.

      Face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19

      illustration

    • How to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19

      How to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 - illustration

      Wearing face masks or cloth face coverings helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. For masks to work, they have to be worn properly. Choose a mask with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric that completely covers your mouth and nose and fits snugly against the sides of your face, leaving no gaps. Do not wear a mask that is too loose on the sides. Do not pull the mask low on your nose, below your nose, or below your mouth or chin. Do not leave your chin or your mouth exposed or dangle the mask from one ear. Do not wear the mask in any other way that does not entirely cover your mouth and nose. Wash your hands before and after wearing the mask and use only the loops of the mask to put it on and take it off. Do not touch the front of the mask while wearing it. If you use a cloth mask, wash it and dry it daily and keep it in a clean, dry place.

      How to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19

      illustration

    • COVID-19 vaccine

      COVID-19 vaccine - illustration

      COVID-19 vaccines protect people from getting COVID-19. They are a vital tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccine works with your body’s immune system against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.While COVID-19 vaccines will not make you sick, they may cause certain side effects and flu-like symptoms. This is to be expected. These symptoms may be a sign that your body is making antibodies against the virus. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

      COVID-19 vaccine

      illustration

    Self Care

     
     

    Review Date: 10/25/2021

    Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 11/19/2021.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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