Protecting yourself and others during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

Person vigorously washing hands in sink

COVID-19 has presented great challenges but there is hope on the horizon with the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization of a new vaccine. But even then we're not out of the woods. We encourage you to continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. We're all in this together. Learn more below.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Take precautions as you would with the normal seasonal flu. While a coronavirus vaccine has been authorized by the FDA for emergency use, it may be some time before we know when and how it will become widely available. In the meantime, the CDC recommends washing your hands often to stay healthy, especially during these key times when you are likely to get or spread germs:1

  • Before, during, and after preparing food and before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

The following hand washing tips may help reduce your risk of infection:2

  • Wet your hands with clean running water, turn off the tap and apply soap
  • Lather the front and back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails and scrub for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse your hands under clean, running water and dry them using a clean towel - or let them air dry
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:3

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you have symptoms and suspect COVID-19, you can help protect others:

  • Seek medical advice but call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office, urgent care center, retail clinic, or emergency room.
  • Tell them about your symptoms and any recent travel
  • Stay home while you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
  • If you have life-threatening symptoms, dial 9-1-1 immediately

To learn more or stay up to date, visit the CDC website, opens new window and check out the CDC’s travel guidance, opens new window. You can also learn more from the World Health Organization, opens new window.

Revised 12/15/2020

Sources

  1. “When and How To Wash Your Hands,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed March 6, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html, opens new window
  2. “When and How to Wash Your Hands.”
  3. “Symptoms of Coronavirus,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed December 10, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html, opens new window