Whitehouse Centers for Disease Control and Prevention US Department of Homeland Security - Federal Emergency Management Agency

Prevent getting sick

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 mask 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.

Last updated July 17, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Wear masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Masks 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 masks in public settings. Masks provide an extra layer to help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.

The masks 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 masks can be found on CDC site.

Last updated June 27, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Practice everyday preventive actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and remind everyone in your home to do the same. These actions are especially important for older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • 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.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
  • Launder items, including washable plush toys, as appropriate and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

Last updated April 30, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

  • Case investigation: Case investigation is the identification and investigation of patients with confirmed and probable diagnoses of COVID-19. During the case investigation, the health department works with a patient who has COVID-19 to help them recall everyone they had close contact with during the time when they may have been infectious. For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Contact tracing: Contact tracing is the subsequent identification, monitoring, and support of a confirmed or probable case’s close contacts who have been exposed to, and possibly infected with, the virus. The infected patient’s identity is not discussed with contacts, even if asked.

Last updated September 28, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Create a household plan of action to help protect your health and the health of those you care about in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community:

  • Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan, and discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community.
  • Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications.
    • Make sure they have access to 2 weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • Get to know your neighbors and find out if your neighborhood has a website or social media page to stay connected.
  • Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, healthcare services, support, and resources.
  • Create an emergency contact list of family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

Last updated June 27, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the fear and isolation that often come with it, can be overwhelming to adults and children. You may worry about your health or financial situation, and may experience changes in sleep or eating patterns, worsening of health problems, including mental health problems, or increased substance use.

Finding a healthy way to cope with stress will make you and the people you care about, stronger. Some of the best ways to cope with stress are:

  • Know what to do and who to contact if you get sick.
  • Take care of your emotional health.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
  • Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get plenty of sleep.
  • Connect with others in a safe way.

More information on how people react to stress, how to copy with stress and anxiety, and what to do in an emergency is available from the CDC at Coping with Stress.

Last updated July 17, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Yes. You should still self-quarantine for 14 days since your last exposure. It can take up to 14 days after exposure to the virus for a person to develop COVID-19 symptoms. A negative result before end of the 14-day quarantine period does not rule out possible infection. By self-quarantining for 14 days, you lower the chance of possibly exposing others to COVID-19.

Last updated September 03, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

People with COVID-19 can still spread the virus even if they don’t have any symptoms. If you were around someone who had COVID-19, it is critical that you stay home and away from others for 14 days from the last day that you were around that person. Staying home and away from others at all times helps your health department in the fight against COVID-19 and helps protect you, your family, and your community.

Last updated September 03, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. CDC has directions for people who are recovering at home and their caregivers, including:

  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • 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.
  • Provide your sick household member with clean disposable masks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.
  • Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.

However, some people may need emergency medical attention. Watch for symptoms and learn when to seek emergency medical attention.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately.

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

Last updated October 01, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.

Last updated October 01, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

  • 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 mask, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.

For more information, see Groups at Higher Risk for Severe Illness.

Last updated June 20, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Walking a dog is important for both animal and human health and well-being. Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals, do not gather in groups, and stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. Do not go to dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather. To help maintain social distancing, do not let other people pet your dog when you are out for a walk.

Last updated April 13, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Your planning may be different because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Last updated October 09, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

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 masks for each person.
  • Masks 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.

Last updated May 21, 2020
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agencylinks to external site

  • CDC recommends that people wear masks 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 may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
  • Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

More Information: Considerations for wearing masks

Last updated August 07, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC recommends that everyone wear a mask over their nose and mouth when in the community setting, including during travel if they must travel. This as an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A mask is not intended to protect the wearer but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. Medical masks and N-95 respirators are still reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Last updated April 03, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

No, do NOT wear a cloth mask in the water. It can be difficult to breathe through a cloth mask when it is wet. Plus, wet cloth masks don’t slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as dry cloth masks. All of this means it is particularly important to stay at least 6 feet apart in the water from people you don’t live with.

In case cloth masks do get wet by mistake, bring a second (or extra) cloth mask for everyone heading out to the public pool or beach.

Last updated October 01, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to others nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields to slow spread.

Wearing a mask may not be feasible in every situation for some people such as those who are deaf or hard of hearing or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired.

More information:

Last updated August 13, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

CDC does not yet have evidence on the effectiveness of different types of cloth materials.

Wearing cloth masks can help prevent people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading the virus. Make sure your cloth mask:

  • fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
  • completely covers the nose and mouth,
  • is secured with ties or ear loops,
  • includes multiple layers of fabric,
  • allows for breathing without restriction, and
  • can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

Cloth masks should NOT be worn by children less than 2 years old or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Learn more about how to wear, take off, and wash your cloth masks.

Last updated October 01, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

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.

Last updated July 17, 2020
Source: Federal Trade Commissionlinks to external site

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.

Last updated March 23, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Smoking cigarettes can leave you more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19. For example, smoking is known to cause lung disease and people with underlying lung problems may have increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19, a disease that primarily attacks the lungs.

Smoking cigarettes can also cause inflammation and cell damage throughout the body, and can weaken your immune system, making it less able to fight off disease.

There’s never been a better time to quit smoking. If you need resources to help you quit smoking, the FDA’s Every Try Counts campaign has supportive tips and tools to help you get closer to quitting for good.

Last updated October 15, 2020
Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administrationlinks to external site

E-cigarette use can expose your lungs to toxic chemicals, but whether those exposures increase the risk of COVID-19 or the severity of COVID-19 outcomes is not known. It is known that cigarette smoking increases the risk of respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Since many e-cigarette users are current or former smokers, you may be susceptible to a more severe course of COVID-19 if you are infected.

Last updated October 15, 2020
Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administrationlinks to external site

  • 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.

Last updated April 08, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

  • 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.

Last updated April 08, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

If you suspect you have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol, seek immediate medical treatment.

Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally swallow these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk. Swallowing or drinking a hand sanitizer with 1-propanol can result in decreased breathing and heart rate, among other serious symptoms, and can lead to death.

Hand sanitizer with 1-propanol contamination can irritate your skin (or eyes, if exposed). Although it is rare, some people have reported allergic skin reactions.

Learn more about methanol and 1-propanol toxicities. People who have been exposed to contaminated hand sanitizer and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects.

FDA encourages health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (please provide the agency with as much information as possible to identify the product): Complete and submit the report online; or Download and complete the form (PDF), then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.

Last updated October 16, 2020
Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administrationlinks to external site