How to protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. To avoid being exposed:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mose and mouth.
- Put at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Wear a face mask or cloth face cover when around others. Children under 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing or is incapacitated should not wear a mask.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
For more information about how to protect yourself, see the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others.
Your planning may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
- Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medicine supplies. Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies; however, that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to protect your and others’ health when running essential errands.
- Protect yourself and others when filling prescriptions by limiting in-person visits to the pharmacy. Sign up for mail order delivery or call in your prescription ahead of time and use drive-through windows or curbside pickup, if available.
- Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including potential shelters for your pets.
- When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet, about 2 arms’ length, from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.
- If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before disaster strikes, be ready with an evacuation plan. Check with local officials about what shelter spaces are available for this year. Coronavirus may have altered your community’s plans.
- Prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, or bar or liquid soap if not available, and two cloth face coverings for each person.
- Face covers should not be used by children under the age of 2. They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing, or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance.
If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Take your temperature and follow CDC guidance if you have symptoms.
There is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging. However, it may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Learn more about safe handling of deliveries and mail.
We’re currently following CDC guidelines and limiting visitors for patients receiving care in a VA facility, including a hospital, nursing home, or spinal cord injury and disorder center. Limiting outside visitors helps us protect older Veterans and those who already have health issues.
We do make an exception for Veterans who qualify as a “compassionate case.” This means the Veteran is in their last stage of life in a hospice unit and you can only visit that Veteran’s room. We know this is difficult for families, but we’re taking these precautions to protect the most vulnerable patients from community spread of the coronavirus.
Learn about the steps we’re taking to protect Veterans in nursing homes.
Visit the CDC website for more tips on stopping community spread.
No. Always follow the instructions on household cleaners. Do not use disinfect sprays or wipes on your skin because it may cause skin and eye irritation. Disinfectant sprays or wipes are not intended for use on humans or animals. Disinfectant sprays or wipes are intended for use on hard, non-porous surfaces.
View the current list of products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.
In coordination with state and local health and safety guidelines, National Forests remain open however recreation services at our facilities may be changed, suspended or offered through alternate approaches as we manage for the health and safety of our work force and the public. Agency direction tasks local managers to perform risk assessments of our facilities and limit congregations of people and person to person interactions. Our decisions will align with local city, county and state actions to provide for human health and safety (i.e., quarantine, curfew, and other social restrictions).
Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
While people who are sick or know that they have COVID-19 should isolate at home, COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from other people) and wear cloth face coverings in public settings. Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
More information about cloth face coverings can be found on our cloth face coverings site.
Plan for potential changes at your workplace. Talk to your employer about their emergency operations plan, including sick-leave policies and telework options. Learn how businesses and employers can plan for and respond to COVID-19.
The efficacy of these disinfection methods against the virus that causes COVID-19 is not known. EPA only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List N against the virus that causes COVID-19. EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, such as UV lights, LED lights, or ultrasonic devices. Therefore, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19.
Companies do not necessarily need to close after a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been in a company facility. The area(s) used or visited by the ill person should be closed for 24 hours or as long as possible. Open outside doors and windows as much as possible ensuring that doing so does not pose a safety risk to children using the facility (i.e. make sure that children are not able to enter the closed off area through any windows or doors) and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area. Once the area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use. Workers without close contact with the person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 can return to work immediately after disinfection is completed.
You can report problems about online shopping to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. The agency enforces the Mail, Internet or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.
Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. If a surface may have gotten the virus on it from a person with or suspected to have COVID-19, the surface should be cleaned and disinfected. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces.
- Hydrogen peroxide-based systems for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses should be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.
- For other disinfection methods, such as multipurpose solution and ultrasonic cleaners, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to determine efficacy against the virus.
- Always use solution to disinfect your contact lenses and case to kill germs that may be present.
- Handle your lenses over a surface that has been cleaned and disinfected. Find more information about how coronavirus spreads and how to protect yourself.
Visit CDC’s contact lens website for more information on healthy contact lens wear and care.
In healthcare settings all across the United States, donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients. The need for donated blood is constant, and blood centers are open and in urgent need of donations. CDC encourages people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19. CDC is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe. Examples of these recommendations include spacing donor chairs 6 feet apart, thoroughly adhering to environmental cleaning practices, and encouraging donors to make donation appointments ahead of time.
- It is important to continue taking care of your health and wellness.
- Continue your medications, and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
- Continue to manage your disease the way your healthcare provider has told you.
- Have at least a 2-week supply of all prescription and non-prescription medications.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your vaccinations are up-to-date.
- Call your healthcare provider
- if you have any concerns about your medical conditions, or if you get sick.
- to find out about different ways you can connect with your healthcare provider for chronic disease management or other conditions.
- Do not delay getting emergency care for your health problems or any health condition that requires immediate attention.
- If you need emergency help, call 911.
- Emergency departments have infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care for your medical condition.
- Continue to practice everyday prevention. Wash your hands often, avoid close contact, wear a cloth face covering, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.
For more information, see Groups at Higher Risk for Severe Illness.
- Currently there is no evidence to suggest contact lens wearers are more at risk for acquiring COVID-19 than eyeglass wearers.
- Contact lens wearers should continue to practice safe contact lens wear and care hygiene habits to help prevent against transmission of any contact lens-related infections, such as always washing hands with soap and water before handling lenses.
- People who are healthy can continue to wear and care for their contact lenses as prescribed by their eye care professional. Find more information about how coronavirus spreads and how to protect yourself.
Visit CDC’s contact lens website for more information on healthy contact lens wear and care.
There are steps you can take to help protect yourself, grocery store workers and other shoppers, such as wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, and using wipes on the handles of the shopping cart or basket. Read more tips in Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Information for Consumers.
Call your doctor if you experience a serious reaction to hand sanitizer. FDA encourages consumers and health care professionals to report adverse events experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:
- Complete and submit the report online; or
- Download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.
- Include as much information as you can about the product that caused the reaction, including the product name, the manufacturer, and the lot number (if available).
See Safely Using Hand Sanitizer for more information.
Routine cleaning is the everyday cleaning practices that businesses and communities normally use to maintain a healthy environment. Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, bathroom surfaces, and handrails, should be cleaned with soap and water or another detergent at least daily when facilities are in use. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use. For example, certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use. Cleaning removes dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs, but it reduces the number of germs on a surface.
If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:
- Stock up on supplies
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick
- Limit close contact and wash your hands often
- Avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential travel
If there is an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible. Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor. More information on how to prepare, what to do if you get sick, and how communities and caregivers can support those at higher risk is available on People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19.