How to protect yourself from COVID-19

This article was last reviewed on July 09, 2021.

From the CDC:

Know How it Spreads

Right now, officials think the virus is spread mainly through person-to-person contact:

  • Between people who are in close contact with each other (about 6 feet).
  • Community-acquired spread where the source of the infection is unknown.
  • Through droplets produced when an infected person speaks, sings, coughs, or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby, or be inhaled into the lungs.
  • May be spread by contact with people who are not showing symptoms.
  • Some people seem to have been infected by airborne transmission - this is where the virus is in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours and may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away

Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after visiting a public place and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not 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 — wiping off your hands before the sanitizer is dry reduces its effectiveness.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and age 2 years or older, the CDC recommends wearing a mask in indoor public places. Also consider wearing a mask in outdoor settings with crowds or when in close contact with people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Put responsible distance between yourself and other people. The recommended space, at this time, is at least six feet. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Get vaccinated

To find a vaccine near you:

  • Text your zip code to 438829
  • Check
  • Call 1-800-232-0233
  • Contact your state or local health department
  • Contact your local pharmacy or check their website

Self-isolation: what is it, and why is it important?

Self-isolation is crucial in preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others. Find out more about what it really means, how to self-isolate, and helpful tips on how to cope when you’re stuck indoors.

Should I wear a facemask?

  • The CDC recommends that people aged 2 and older that are not fully vaccinated should wear a face mask when on public transportation, in crowded outdoor settings or when around people who don't live in their immediate household. A mask should fit snugly and around the sides of your face and should cover your nose and mouth completely. This is important if you must go to grocery stores, pharmacies or other public places where it is difficult to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. You should also wear a face mask at home if you live with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19. See the latest CDC recommendations on face masks.2
  • If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and if you need to go out to see a healthcare provider. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • According to new guidance by the CDC, if you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.1
  • Even if you are fully vaccinated, you are still required to wear a mask
    • on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation
    • in homeless shelters
    • in correctional facilities
    • in healthcare settings
  • You are considered fully vaccinated if
    • It has been 2 weeks since your second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
    • It has been 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
  • If you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you should speak with your healthcare provider. You may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated and may need to continue taking all precautions.
  • If you are considered fully vaccinated and you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
    • If you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.1