Protect yourself and others
Know How it Spreads
COVID-19 is thought to mainly be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (usually within 6 feet) or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It’s estimated nearly 1 in 5 people are "asymptomatic transmitters" of COVID-19. That means you could be infected with COVID-19 before showing any symptoms and infecting others without even knowing it. Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, everyone must do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
It may be possible that a person 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. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.
Understand Your Risk
Since COVID-19 is a new virus with no vaccine, everyone is at risk for being infected. However, according to CDC, risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and even moreso for those who are immune-suppressed or have underlying health conditions such as:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
- Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes
People who live in congregate settings, such as a nursing home or long-term care facility are also at greater risk.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. If your symptoms worsen, especially if you experience difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider immediately. For more information see Sick or Exposed to COVID-19.
If you are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications due to age or because you have a severe underlying medical condition, it is especially important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of exposure. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease.
What You Can Do
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. These simple actions will lessen your chances of catching COVID-19 and spreading it to others:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home as much as possible, but especially when you are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people, at least 6 feet.
- Avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Wear a cloth face covering when in public places. People can spread COVID-19 before they show symptoms, or even if they show no symptoms at all. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others.
How effective are cloth face masks?
COVID-19 is a novel virus and we are still learning much about it, including the most effective ways to prevent its transmission. There is building evidence that wearing a cloth mask can provide some protection to both the individual wearing it as well as others around them. Here are some references to consider:
- Reducing disease spread: There are two extensive literature reviews that provide strong support for mask use to reduce respiratory disease transmission in the community (see below; 1,2).
- Household materials: There is evidence that cloth masks made of household materials provide about 60% filtration of particles of droplet size (range from 3-86%) coming into the wearer (see below; 3,4,5).
- Source control: There is also abundant evidence that masks keep particles inside the mask (source control), which is important due to the high number of people who are infected both without symptoms and before symptoms occur (see below; 6).
- Mask efficiency: Regarding what type of mask to wear, it’s been shown that mask efficiency improves when multiple layers of fabric are used and when using fabric combinations (6).
- For example, filtration efficiencies of hybrid materials (such as cotton–silk, cotton–chiffon, cotton–flannel) was >80-90%.
- Cotton performs better at higher weave densities (i.e., thread count). Gaps caused by improper mask fit can decrease effectiveness significantly so having a good fit is very important.
- Who should NOT use cloth face coverings: children under age 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
- Howard, J.; Huang, A.; Li, Z.; Tufekci, Z.; Zdimal, V.; van der Westhuizen, H.; von Delft, A.; Price, A.; Fridman, L.; Tang, L.; Tang, V.; Watson, G.L.; Bax, C.E.; Shaikh, R.; Questier, F.; Hernandez, D.; Chu, L.F.; Ramirez, C.M.; Rimoin, A.W. Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review. Preprints 2020, 2020040203 - https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/202004.0203/v1
- C. Raina MacIntyre , Abrar Ahmad Chughtai View Of The Efficacy Of Face Masks And Respirators Against Coronaviruses And Other Respiratory Transmissible Viruses For The Community, Health- Care Workers And Sick Patients, International Journal of Nursing Studies (2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2020.103629
- A. Davies, et al., Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic? Disaster Medicine Public Heal. Prep. 7, 413–418 (2013).
- S Rengasamy, B Eimer, RE Shaffer, Simple Respiratory Protection. Evaluation of the Filtration Performance of Cloth Masks and Common Fabric Materials Against 201000 nm Size Particles. The Annals Occup. Hyg. 54, 789–798 (2010).
- Mvd Sande, P Teunis, R Sabel, Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory Infections among the General Population. PLOS ONE 3, e2618 (2008).
- Abhiteja Konda, Abhinav Prakash, Gregory A. Moss, Michael Schmoldt, Gregory D. Grant, and Supratik Guh. Aerosol filtration efficiency of common fabrics used in respiratory cloth masks. ACS Nano. 2020;14:6339-6347.
Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. This is important to prevent spread of the virus through close contact with others. This means:
- Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces, such a friend’s house, parks, restaurants, shops, or any other place. This advice applies to people of any age, including teens and younger adults. To help maintain social connections while social distancing, learn tips to keep children healthy while school’s out.
- If possible, avoid using any kind of public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis.
- Work from home when possible.
- If you are a student or parent, talk to your school about options for digital/distance learning.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, including when you have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store.
- Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others, even when you wear a face covering.
Stay connected while staying away. It is very important to stay in touch with friends and family that don’t live in your home. Call, video chat, or stay connected using social media. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and having to socially distance yourself from someone you love can be difficult. Read tips for stress and coping.
Supporting Older Adults
- Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
- Monitor food and other medical supplies needed and create a back-up plan (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care).
- If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently, and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.
If You Don’t Have Insurance
If you are experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath and you need to see a healthcare provider, you should do so. If you do not have a medical home or are uninsured, consider visiting a community health center. They will work with you to help you get access to a healthcare provider.
Please make sure you call ahead and let them know your symptoms, so you are not putting anyone at risk. You should also cover your mouth and nose when out in public. Please call 602-253-0090 or look at the AACHC website for a health care center near you.
Pets and COVID-19
We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.The first case of an animal testing positive for the virus in the United States was in a tiger that had a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City. CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
- If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
CDC: Household Checklist
As a family, you can plan and make decisions now that will protect you and your family during a COVID-19 outbreak.
CDC: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Learn how to properly wear, clean, and even make your own face covering.
CDC: Travel Risk Assessment Map for COVID-19
For travel outside the United States, the CDC maintains a list of travel recommendations by county.