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How does COVID‑19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person, especially between close contacts (people within about 6 feet of each other). When an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes, droplets from their mouth can spread through the air and land in the mouths or noses of nearby people. COVID‑19 can also spread from the hands to the mouth, nose, or eyes. Sick people are the most contagious but people who don’t have symptoms can also spread the virus.

How can I help protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed. Take the following precautions to avoid exposure:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • 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, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • When you must go out, practice social distancing.

What is social distancing, and does it help?

Social distancing involves staying at least 6 feet away from other people to avoid catching or spreading a virus. It's a fancy term for avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact. The safest thing to do during an outbreak is to stay home as much as possible and minimize close contact with others. When you must go out, such as to shop for groceries, stay at least 6 feet away from others.

What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID‑19?

If you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days after the last day you were exposed to protect your health and those around you. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat, chills, headache, runny nose, abdominal pain/discomfort, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you are 65 or older or have a medical condition (such as heart, lung, or liver disease, diabetes, or cancer), or are on kidney dialysis, and you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19—call your doctor.

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