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Covid-19: Slow the Coronavirus Spread

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is highly contagious (easily spread). The virus has also changed into new forms, called variants. Some variants are spreading even more quickly and easily than the original virus. COVID-19 can cause severe or life-threatening health problems in some people. Health problems can continue for weeks, months, or possibly years. Signs and symptoms of infection from any form of the virus can take up to 14 days to begin, or may not develop at all. This means you or someone around you may have the virus and pass it to others without knowing it.

Prevent COVID-19 Infection


Call your doctor if:

  • You have questions about social distancing or ways to keep your home and family safe.
  • You have questions or concerns about the new coronavirus or COVID-19.

How the 2019 coronavirus spreads:

The virus can be passed starting 2 to 3 days before symptoms begin or before a positive test if symptoms never begin.

  • Droplets are the main way all coronaviruses spread. The virus travels in droplets that form when a person talks, coughs, or sneezes. The droplets can also float in the air for minutes or hours. Infection happens when you breathe in the droplets or get them in your eyes or nose. Close personal contact with an infected person increases your risk for infection. This means being within 6 feet (2 meters) of the person for at least 15 minutes over 24 hours.
  • Person-to-person contact can spread the virus. For example, a person with the virus on his or her hands can spread it by shaking hands with someone.
  • The virus can stay on objects and surfaces for up to 3 days. You may become infected by touching the object or surface and then touching your eyes or mouth.

What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines:

Healthcare providers recommend a COVID-19 vaccine, even if you have already had COVID-19. You are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after the final dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. Let your healthcare provider know when you have received the final dose of the vaccine. Make a copy of your vaccination card. Keep the original with you in case you need to show it. Keep the copy in a safe place.

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine as directed. Vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months or older. COVID-19 vaccines are given as a shot in 1 to 3 doses as a primary series. This depends on the vaccine brand and the age of the person who receives it. A booster dose is recommended for everyone 5 years or older after the primary series is complete. A second booster is recommended for all adults 50 or older and for immunocompromised adolescents. The second booster is also recommended for anyone who got the 1-dose brand of vaccine for the first dose and a booster. Your provider can give you more information on boosters and help you schedule all needed doses.
    Recommended COVID-19 Immunization Schedule
  • Even after you get the vaccine, continue social distancing and other measures. Although rare, you can become infected after you get the vaccine. You may also be able to pass the virus to others without knowing you are infected.
  • After you get the vaccine, check local, national, and international travel rules. You may need to be tested before you travel. Some countries require proof of a negative test before you travel. You may also need to quarantine after you return.
  • Medicine may be given to prevent infection. The medicine can be given if you are at high risk for infection and cannot get the vaccine. It can also be given if your immune system does not respond well to the vaccine.

Help prevent the virus from spreading:

  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use soap and water. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers, for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Teach children how to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs. Turn your face away and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Throw the tissue away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Then wash your hands well with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Teach children how to cover a cough or sneeze.
  • Follow national and local social distancing rules. Rules may change over time as restrictions are lifted.
  • Stay home if you are sick or think you may have COVID-19. It is important to stay home if you are waiting for a testing appointment or for test results.
  • Avoid close physical contact with anyone who does not live in your home. Do not shake hands with, hug, or kiss a person as a greeting. If you must use public transportation (such as a bus or subway), try to sit or stand away from others.
  • Wear a face covering (mask) when needed. Use a cloth covering with at least 2 layers. You can also create layers by putting a cloth covering over a disposable non-medical mask. Cover your mouth and your nose.
    How to Wear a Face Covering (Mask)
  • Avoid in-person gatherings and crowds. Attend virtually if possible.

Prevent an infection in your home:

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects in your home often. Use disinfecting wipes or a disinfecting solution of 4 teaspoons of bleach in 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Wash clothing and bedding with regular laundry detergent. Wash and dry on the warmest settings for the fabric.
  • Do not share items with anyone. This includes food, drinks, dishes, and eating utensils.
  • Safely handle food you have delivered or pick up from a restaurant. If possible, have food left at your door or placed into your car. This helps prevent close physical contact with anyone. Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Keep anyone who is infected away from others in the home, if possible. The person should have his or her own dishes and eating utensils.

Stay safe when you go out:

  • Plan your route. This will help you make the fewest stops possible and help prevent close contact.
  • Make a list of items to buy before you go out. This will limit the items you touch in the store. The more items you handle, the more risk you take of getting the virus on your hands.
  • Remember to wash your hands. Wash before you leave your home, so you do not bring the virus with you. Wash again when you get home, after you put away any items you bought.
  • Wear a face covering (mask) when needed. Bring extra coverings with you. You may need to wear a covering in restaurants, stores, and other public buildings. You may also need a covering on mass transit, such as a bus, subway, or airplane.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

For more information:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 404 - 6393311
    Phone: 1- 800 - 3113435
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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