How to protect yourself
Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.
There is information for people who have had close contact, with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 available online.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC still recommends that you stay at least 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. View CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself.
Cloth face coverings can be made from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.
A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people are in a community setting, especially in situations where you may be near people. These settings include grocery stores and pharmacies. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Cloth face coverings are especially important to wear in public in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.
Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC guidance.
In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.
- 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.
- 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.
Follow the advice of your local health officials. Stay home if you can. Talk to your employer to discuss working from home or taking leave if you or someone in your household gets sick with COVID-19 symptoms or if your child’s school is dismissed temporarily. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual in case of a community outbreak.
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.
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.
CDC cannot address the policies of any business or organization. CDC shares recommendations based on the best available science to help people make decisions that improve their health and safety. Employers, schools, and organizations may decide to visibly screen for symptoms or perform on-site symptom checks.
If your employer, school, or organization requires you to present documentation regarding COVID-19 before returning to work or school (for example, proof of a negative COVID-19 lab test if a test was performed), contact your healthcare provider to ask if he or she would be able to provide a form of documentation for you. Documentation of self-isolation and self-quarantine may not be possible.
In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. Local decisions depend on local circumstances.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.