The coronavirus can be spread directly between humans. While there are COVID-19 vaccines now available, preventing exposure is the best way to avoid illness. We encourage you to take precautions to prevent exposure similar to those you would take to prevent influenza (flu).
Follow these steps to protect yourself and others:
- Avoid close contact with people who you do not live with.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue 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 an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). Some communities may have stricter guidelines for wearing masks outside the home. For information on cloth face coverings, visit the CDC website.
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs. Practice routine cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones.
- Do not delay medical care if you feel ill or are injured. In an emergency, call 911. For non-emergency care, including COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor first before heading to an urgent care center or the emergency department. Many physician practices offer telehealth appointments, which are usually covered by insurance.
As a health care organization, we are continuing to work hard to ensure the safety of our community, including our patients and staff. The symptoms of COVID-19 take days to appear. This means that someone can be carrying the virus even though they do not have any symptoms. Due to this, it is very important to adhere to the recommendations of health experts, including the CDC.
Even as more and more people are vaccinated, social distancing during the COVID-19 public health emergency needs to be respected. People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to follow social distancing guidelines, such as:
- Do not have play dates or people over your house. Doing so creates new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent.
- Do not share food or drinks.
- Avoid unneccessary travel to reduce your risk of being exposed and to prevent spread.
- To the extent possible, avoid touching high-contact surfaces in public places — elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after touching surfaces in public places.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly.
- Avoid shaking hands.
- Think of the people you live with as a single unit. If one person is negligent in following prevention and social distancing guidelines, it puts the entire household at risk.
► Read the CDC's guidelines for when you have been fully vaccinated
While some restrictions have been relaxed for fully-vaccinated people, adhering to these rules now can dramatically reduce the number of people infected with COVID-19. Here is some further reading with activities you can do by yourself or with your household members: