How to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus)
Frequent handwashing, avoiding direct personal contact, and avoiding large crowds are at the center of how to protect yourself. Below, learn how to keep from spreading illness.
Most people who get the infection will get only a mild illness, like a cold, but the elderly and frail are at increased risk of severe infection, requiring hospitalization or even critical care.
If you are have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill are able to isolate at home. If you are sick, find out what to do next
How can you limit the spread of COVID-19?
Researchers are actively working on a vaccine. In the meantime, it is important to take preventive actions to help limit the spread of COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact (keep a distance of at least 6 feet) with people who are sick and people outside of your household.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol alcohol.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily – including tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, cell phones, and cabinet handles. Using a regular household detergent and water.
- Take special precautions if you fall into high risk groups (older people and people with severe chronic conditions).
- Parents: download these COVID-19 tips from Baystate Children's Hospital
Wear a face covering in public places
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public places, and Massachusetts now requires residents to do so. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
According to the CDC, cloth face coverings 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.
Learn more about why and how.
How do coronaviruses spread?
Coronaviruses spread from person to person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can infect people nearby if the virus gets into their body through their eyes, nose or mouth.
You could get COVID-19 through close contact with an infected person who is coughing and sneezing. You may also be able to get it from touching a contaminated surface (for example, if someone coughs over a table and then you touch that table).
The CDC recently released this video explaining how the virus spreads in communities, including large family gatherings:
Focus on controlling what you can: