Older adults and people who have certain underlying conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID illness. More information on Are you at higher risk for serious illness. Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link. Coronavirus Disease Coronavirus Home Your Health. Section Navigation. Updated Nov. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Syndicate. Minus Related Pages. Know how it spreads COVID spreads easily from person to person, mainly by the following routes: Between people who are in close contact with one another within 6 feet. Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks. Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth. People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others. COVID spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces. Everyone Should. Wash your hands often Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus. Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others You could spread COVID to others even if you do not feel sick. The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Masks 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. Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The mask is not a substitute for social distancing. Cover coughs and sneezes Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Then, use a household disinfectant.
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