COVID-19 Prevention

Prevention Steps

How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19 infection?
The best way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay informed and to use the same common-sense precautions you take to guard against other illnesses, such as the flu.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when handwashing isn’t an option.
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve (the crook of your elbow), shirt or a tissue, not into your hands, and encourage kids to do the same.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and encourage those around you to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you’re sick and do not return to work, school or social activities until you have been fever-free for at least 48 hours without medication.
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces in your home and workplace with bleach, ammonia or alcohol-based disinfectants. Wipe down and disinfect things like doorknobs, light switches, refrigerator handle(s), TV or stereo remote controls, computer keyboards, your home telephone, cellphones and other touchscreen devices, etc.
  • If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider for instructions on how to seek care without exposing others.
  • While there are no EPA-registered disinfectants specifically listed as having the ability to kill COVID-19, related viruses with similar physical and biochemical properties can be killed with bleach, ammonia or alcohol, or cleaning agents containing any of these disinfectants.

Handwashing

Use these easy steps to teach children good hand hygiene — and to ensure your own handwashing is effective.

1. Wet hands.

2. Add soap.

3. Rub hands together for about 20 seconds. Instead of counting to 20 while scrubbing your hands, try singing the “Happy Birthday to You” song twice. (This is really handy for kids who cannot yet count to 20.)

4. Scrub your palms, fingertips, in between fingers and the backs of your hands well. Wash all the way up to your wrists.

5. Rinse your hands until all of the bubbles are gone.

6. Dry your hands with a paper towel. Use the paper towel to turn the sink faucet off, and then throw the paper towel away.

For more tips, check out the CDC’s Prevention & Treatment info and its Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Current understanding about how COVID-19 spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. COVID-19 is a new disease, and there is more to learn about how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

  • Person-to-person spread: The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects: It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging, because of poor survivability of other coronaviruses on surfaces. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods, but there is still a lot that is unknown about how the newly emerged COVID-19 spreads.