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CDC: How to Protect Yourself and Others

Know how it spreads

  • COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, mainly by the following routes:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks.

  • Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.

  • People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.

Less common ways COVID-19 can spread

  • Under certain circumstances (for example, when people are in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation), COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.

  • COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces.

Everyone Should

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • It’s especially important to wash:

  • Before eating or preparing food

  • Before touching your face

  • After using the restroom

  • After leaving a public place

  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

  • After handling your mask

  • After changing a diaper

  • After caring for someone sick

  • After touching animals or pets


  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

  • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.

  • Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.

  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.

  • Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.

  • The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.

  • Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

  • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

  • Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.

  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The mask is not a substitute for social distancing.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.

  • Throw used tissues in the trash.

  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.


Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectantsexternal icon will work.

Monitor Your Health Daily

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.

  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.

  • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.

  • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.



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