Protect Yourself and Others From COVID-19

Protect yourself and slow the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has taken a toll on families and economies across the world, but the United States is starting to get good news; COVID-19 cases are beginning to plateau across the country. This is an important milestone toward flattening the curve and a reassuring sign that Americans’ efforts to self-isolate and social distance are beginning to pay off. It’s still important to follow the CDC’s guidelines, however, to protect yourself, your family, and others from the virus—and to ensure that the number of new COVID-19 cases begins to drop, alleviating the burden placed on hospitals and medical staff.

You can do your part to lift this burden by taking steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. Here are 10 ways you can protect yourself and those around you from the virus.

1. Educate yourself on how the virus spreads.

It’s difficult to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 if you don’t know basic information about the coronavirus and how it spreads, so it’s vital that you educate yourself. Experts believe that the coronavirus spreads from person-to-person through water droplets in the air, which are released when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or even talks. Although COVID-19 is very serious and deadly for thousands of people, it can be very mild for others, presenting symptoms similar to those of a bad cold or a case of the flu. There’s also mounting evidence that a significant portion of people infected with COVID-19 are contagious, despite showing no symptoms. This is why it’s so vital to take steps to protect yourself—and others—from COVID-19; if you don’t take the right precautions, even though you don’t feel sick, you could spread the virus to people who could then get very, very sick.

2. Stay home as much as you can.

According to the CDC, the best way to avoid getting COVID-19 is to avoid coming into contact with it—and that means staying home. This is also the best way to ensure you don’t unknowingly give the virus to someone else. If you’re able to, work from home and use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options whenever they’re offered. Whether or not you’re an essential worker, only leave your house when you absolutely need to, such as to work, pick up prescriptions, or get groceries. Additionally, if anyone you live with tests positive for COVID-19, you should immediately isolate the entire household; don’t go anywhere, not even to work.

3. Avoid meeting in groups of more than ten people.

In general, you should try to avoid meeting up with anyone unnecessarily; there’s always a risk that they have come into contact with the virus and will spread it to you. This risk grows with each person added to a group, so never meet with groups of more than ten people.

4. Practice social distancing.

It’s not always possible to stay home for weeks on end, so when you do need to go out, stay at least six feet away from others at all times. Since it’s possible to have COVID-19 and be contagious without feeling sick, this helps protect you from others’ germs—and protects others from yours. If someone is feeling sick, don’t interact with them at all.

5. Wear cloth face masks when you go out.

Cloth face masks are also vital to helping curb the spread of the virus, but they’re meant to protect other people from your germs—not the other way around. Even if you aren’t worried about getting the virus, you should be wearing a mask to protect the people around you who may be more vulnerable to the virus. Cloth face masks aren’t a replacement for social distancing, however, so you need to practice both when you’re in public to hamper the coronavirus’ spread. The only people who shouldn’t wear face masks are children under the age of two, people who have trouble breathing, and people who are unconscious or similarly incapacitated.

6. Take advantage of telehealth services.

Whether you’re sick or need to see one of your doctors for a regularly scheduled appointment, it’s wise to use telehealth services to speak to your doctor remotely. This helps you by lowering your chances of coming into contact with COVID-19, but it also helps take the burden off of medical professionals and limits the number of patients they need to come into direct contact with, helping protect them from COVID-19 as well.

7. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.

While we’re still learning about this strain of coronavirus, there’s evidence that it behaves like other coronaviruses; this means that it’s likely capable of surviving on surfaces for a few hours or a few days, depending on the type of surface and the environment’s temperature and humidity. Your hands come into contact with hundreds of surfaces throughout the day, so it’s wise to wash your hands often and well, even when you’re staying home. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before preparing food, after eating a meal, after sneezing or coughing, and immediately after getting home from a public place. When you can’t wash your hands right away, use a hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60% instead.

8. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

If you have come into contact with the coronavirus, touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands will introduce the virus into your system, so do your best to avoid touching your face if you haven’t washed your hands recently. It’s also best to avoid touching your face at all when you’re in public, even if you think your hands are clean.

9. Cover up your coughs and sneezes.

Always cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow—not your hands—and then immediately throw your tissue away and wash your hands. This prevents the water droplets in your sneeze from traveling through the air and ensures you don’t contaminate the surfaces around you.

10. Clean and disinfect surfaces often.

While it’s vital to clean surfaces that appear dirty, you should also disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, especially items used by the entire household. This includes remotes, door handles, phones, keyboards, and countertops. You should follow manufacturer recommendations to clean electronics without damaging them; otherwise, use an EPA-registered household disinfectant or diluted bleach to properly sanitize items.

As the weather warms and COVID-19 cases begin to plateau in the U.S., it’s tempting to begin immediately returning to life as usual—especially as spring fever begins to set in. We must continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, however, so doing your part will keep you and your loved ones healthy, as well as help save lives in your community and across the country.