Questions about how to stay safe and reduce your to covid-19
What's your risk of Covid-19?
Are you wondering what your risk is when planning events or outings?
This site provides interactive context to assess the risk that one or more individuals infected with COVID-19 are present in an event of various sizes. The model is simple, intentionally so, and provided some context for the rationale to halt large gatherings in early-mid March and newly relevant context for considering when and how to re-open. Precisely because of under-testing and the risk of exposure and infection, these risk calculations provide furher support for the ongoing need for social distancing and protective measures. Such precautions are still needed even in small events, given the large number of circulating cases.
This map shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location (assuming 10:1 ascertainment bias). Click the image to go to the page and find your event risk level.
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I'm Sick with Covid-19. How Do I Prevent the Spread?
In order to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community if you think you have COVID-19 or if it has been confirmed and you are sick there are many things you can do to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Stay home except as required for medical care
- Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness that does not require medical care and as such most can recover at home. In order to stop the spread of this very contagious disease it is recommended that you do not visit public areas or leave your home, except to get medical care.
- Self care is important and you need to get rest and stay hydrated. Smoking should be avoided. You can use over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control symptoms. Please follow the instructions carefully and do not use more than the recommended dosage.
- Symptoms that indicate a possible emergency include but are not limited to:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
- If have any other warning signs or if you think it is an emergency then contact your medical provider as soon as possible or 911 if severe.
- Public transportation, ride-sharing and taxis should be avoided.
- Separate yourself from others to avoid spread.
As the likelihood of spreading the disease increases dramatically with the length and proximity of exposure - it is vital that as much as possible you stay in a designated specific room and away from other people and even pets in your home. The use a separate bathroom is also recommended if that is feasible. In cases where you cannot avoid being around others or if you leave your home - a cloth face covering should be worn at all times.
I need to see a doctor. What should I do?
Firstly it is important that you call ahead prior to visiting your doctor as you may be able to have your care provided by phone or telemedicine. If you think you have COVID-19 but cannot postpone a visit to the physicians office then call and inform them so they can be better prepared for their and their patients protection.
Wearing a mask which covers both nose and mouth is both critical and responsible for those with COVID-19
Even if you are at home in the presence of others it is recommended you wear masks. Even in front of pets. This is not necessary if you are alone.
However if you cannot tolerate masks due to e.g. lung disease - then coughs and sneezes still need covering and maintaining a distance of 6ft becomes even more important.
How to best cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw away used tissues in a lined trash can.
- Immediately after it is important that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol should be used.
- Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid sharing personal household items such as cups, glasses, utensils etc.
- Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
- If you are sick you should try daily to disinfect the most high-touch surfaces in your room and bathroom.
- Gloves are suggested. High-touch surfaces include
- remote controls,
- counters, tabletops,
- bathroom fixtures,
- tablets, and
- bedside tables
- When using disinfectants be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Several products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed. Many also recommend precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
- Most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
Clean Your Phone
This is important. Always wipe down your phone. You know not to touch your face and to wash your hands, but your phone is likely with you at every step of your day, exposed to an endless stream of germs and a high risk for transmission. And chances are while you’ve learned not to touch your face, you touch your phone and then your phone touches your face.
- Wipe it down thoroughly, at least once a day
- Take the case off and sanitize it with a wipe or a paper towel with hand sanitizer.
- Avoid any ports so you don’t get liquids inside.
- Take the case off and wipe that down separately, inside and out.
- Let it air dry for a few minutes before putting it back on.
- Use speakerphone whenever possible to avoid face contamination (but don’t be rude in public)
- Use a head phone for private calls
- Wipe down the surface regularly
- Don’t take your phone into the bathroom
Public and Shared Bathrooms
- Use toilet seat covers
- Don’t touch anything with an uncovered hand, use a paper towel to open stall doors, flush.
- Don’t place items on flat surfaces.
- Use you’re the back of your hand to turn the faucet on or off whenever possible, more importantly turning it off, and use soap and water to wash your hands.
- If there is an option, choose the paper towels to dry your hands, not the air blowers.
- Never use reuseable towels in a public bathroom.
- When opening the door to leave, use your foot or use a paper towel on the door handle.
Your Home & Car
You know to clean your house but pay particular attention to those areas where people are entering after being in the public, possibly exposed.
- Wipe down outside and inside door handles
- Wipe down counters after groceries or deliveries have been put away
- Wash all new clothing that is delivered
- Wipe down all surfaces in your car that you touched, inside and out, including door handles, gear shifts, steering wheel, radio knobs, trunk latches, etc
- If you live in a building with public spaces, avoid touching shared spaces as much as possible, and if you have to, use a tissue or paper towel that you can dispose of between each touch point. Wash or sanitize your hands as soon as possible after using these. That includes:
- Elevator buttons (use your knuckles if possible)
- Stair railings
- Door handles (when possible use your hip or leg to gently push doors open)
- Mail boxes
- If you’re ordering food or groceries, use no contact delivery options whenever possible
- Wash your hands after receiving the deliveries
- Always tip and tip well
- If you’ve ordered take out food, use your own plates, don’t eat out of the containers the food came in.
- Pay online by credit card whenever possible
- If you have to pay by cash, put the money in an envelope so they aren’t touching it directly.
- If you cannot do no contact delivery, wear a face mask and stay at least 6 feet apart.
- Curbside Pick up
- Pay online by credit card whenever possible
- Wear a mask when picking up just in case they need to speak with you.
- Have your trunk ready so they don’t have to wait and break social distancing
- Tip, and tip well
- Be patient and understanding
- Show up at the scheduled time, on time.
- If necessary, communicate through the open passenger-side window, not the driver’s side, to protect them from oncoming traffic, and to maintain social distance.
- If you encounter resistance – Just walk away.
Anyone resisting social distancing or flouting the recommendations isn’t likely someone who would be open to discussion or convincing. Engaging in discussions will only escalate the tension and risk exposure. If you are uncomfortable, notify management if possible, and get to safety.
General Health: Maintain your general health during this pandemic.
- Continue to take all medications
- Eat healthy
- Maintain healthy sleep habits
- Exercise regularly
- Understand that this is a stressful time and we are all unsure and need reassurances. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Don’t accept easy answers or explanations. This is a time when careful vigilance is needed, and that applies to news and information, too.
- If you aren’t feeling well, even if it’s unrelated to Covid 19, call your doctor’s office.
- If you have a medical emergency, do not avoid the emergency room. You can have someone call ahead to find a separate entrance or timing, if you have that option, but do not risk not going if you need to.
- Dental emergencies happen, too. Call your dentist if you have a problem. Remember dentists are used to practicing very strong hygiene habits and are prepared for safe, effective treatment.
- You don’t need a haircut that badly. Wear a hat, try different styles, use product to contain it.
- Connect with friends and colleagues online through chats or video conferencing
- Find religious services online
- Seek out recovery support resources and online meetings.
- Find classes, new networking groups online, learn new skills, broaden your world
Can Covid 19 be prevented?
While there isn’t yet a vaccine to prevent Covid 19, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting it. These steps are good for everyone, but are especially important for those at higher risk, such as older people or those with other health conditions that could make them more prone to get the disease if exposed.
Practice social distancing.
This is to avoid contact with people who are sick, whether they have symptoms or not, since you can have the disease without knowing it.
Social distancing means avoiding close contact with those who you don’t already live with. It’s also called physical distancing.
Social distancing means avoiding crowds, even small ones, as much as you can. The best way to do this is to stay at home, but if you need to go out, try your best to keep your physical distance from others. Stay at least 6 feet, or 2 meters, apart, and wear a face mask or covering if you can.
Wash your hands with soap and water often.
Washing your hands is especially important if you’ve been out in public or touching items that others have touched. This includes getting your mail or deliveries.
Use soap and water, rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds, and be sure to wash your wrists, fingernails, and between your fingers. When you’ve done this for at least 20 seconds, rinse them and dry them with a paper towel that you can throw away.
If you aren’t near a sink you can use hand sanitizer to clean your hands. You’ll want a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in it to be effective, but whenever possible, soap and water works best.
Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose, and eyes.
Covid 19 and other viruses enter your body most easily through your mouth, nose, and eyes, so if you’ve been in contact with the virus, touching your face increases the chance that you can become infected.
Avoid traveling if you can.
Obviously you’ll want to avoid traveling to known hot spots, where there are large outbreaks of the virus, but any form of travel increases your risk of exposure, especially if you have to be in crowded places like airports. Traveling also spreads the virus around the country and the world. This makes it harder to contain.
Can I get Covid 19 from touching a delivery package or food container?
Covid 19 spreads from person to person, through respiratory droplets, either directly or indirectly through landing on surfaces. It is not known to spread through food.
Because it can last for a limited time on surfaces (possibly up to several hours) it’s important to continue being vigilant and practicing safe hygiene.
When you get a delivery or touch a take out food container, it’s unlikely that you will be exposed to the virus. The exposure time and amount from a single surface is limited, so the risk is minimal.
Still, to be safe, you can wipe down products and surfaces that you bring in from the outside, but the best approach is to make sure you wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, dry using a disposable towel, and don’t touch your face.
Can Someone Who Doesn't Have Symptoms Spread the Virus?
A person can be infected and spread the Covid 19 virus to others even without having any symptoms. That’s why keeping people apart is one of the best ways to slow the spread.
How is Covid 19 spread?
It is now thought that the spread of Coronavirus occurs mainly through close contact from person-to-person with proximity, length of exposure and the indoors each increasing probability of transmission.
The role of people who have COVID-19 but are without symptoms is not fully determined but it is believed that they may in some cases be able to spread the virus. What we do know is that the size of the exposure can be a determinant of the severity of the disease in individual patients in addition to other risk factors (such as number and severity of health problems)
In spreading from person to person the mechanism is:
Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks can enter the lungs of uninfected individuals and pass the disease as the droplets land in the mouths or noses of people nearby- additionally the droplets may be inhaled into the lungs.
The virus spreads easily
One of the things that has made COVID-19 the global pandemic it is - is the fact that the virus spreads relatively easily. It is very contagious and can also continue to spread “sustainably” to new people.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading more very easily between people than influenza for example but less so than measles.
The probability of spread increases with the more closely and the longer a person interacts with others.
Can you get the virus from a surface.
While not by any means the main way the virus spreads it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 through touching a surface that has the virus on it and then transmitting that to their mouth, nose and rarely it is believed, the eyes.
I heard I can get sick from wearing a face mask because of Carbon Dioxide, is this true?
Generally, no. The myth that one can get carbon dioxide poisoning, or hypoxia, from wearing a face mask and breathing in your own expelled breath is unlikely. Non-medical face masks aren’t sealed to the face, therefore air and CO2 circulate in and out of the mask, and they’re typically not worn for a prolonged period of time.
There’s always an increased risk for anyone with a pre-existing underlying health condition, including anxiety, that may cause other symptoms, but in most cases these aren’t significant. If you have concerns about wearing a mask with your respiratory condition, check with your doctor.
For healthcare workers who do wear tighter fitting medical masks or respirators and wear them for a prolonged period of time, the risk may be higher, but they also receive additional training on this. If you’re wearing a medical mask or respirator, be sure to use it properly, to avoid any further health risks or concerns.
Who should wear Medical Masks?
Anyone working in health care settings or serving as a caregiver for patients with or suspected of having Covid 19 should wear medical masks, or respirators, such as the N95 or FFP2 masks. They should also use other personal protective equipment (PPE) and heightened hygiene, such as social and physical distancing when possible, and frequent hand washing.
The following people should choose medical masks over non-medical masks:
- Healthcare workers
- Whenever possible, medical masks and respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers. They are the most exposed and are in regular, extended close contact with patients with or suspected of having Covid 19.
- People who are sick and exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
- People who are sick, even those who only have mild symptoms, should quarantine whenever possible, and wear a medical mask. This will help in keeping them from transmitting the virus to others and to surfaces. The virus is spread through coughing, sneezing, or even talking, and spread through droplets, which can come in contact with the faces and hands of others directly, or land on surfaces that are then touched by others.
- Anyone taking care of a person at home who is sick with COVID-19
- If you are in close frequent contact with someone who is sick with Covid 19, either as a caregiver or provider, as you are facing repeated exposure to the virus, the medical masks can help protect, somewhat. Again, it’s important to continue to practice as much social distancing, avoiding unnecessary physical contact whenever possible, and frequent hand washing, cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing.
Should Children wear masks?
The CDC recommends that all children over the age of 2 wear a mask in public. You should select a mask that is the appropriate size, either a small bandana or a child size mask, so that it fits properly and doesn’t cover their whole face or restrict their breathing.
Anyone, including a child, with an existing respiratory illness should speak with their doctor first.
Are Non-Medical Masks effective in reducing the spread of Covid 19?
While there is a lot of information floating around about the effectiveness and dangers of using face masks, except for health care workers and caregivers, the use of non-medical face masks has shown to be effective in spreading the virus, especially for those people who are not sick, have mild symptoms, or are asymptomatic.
Healthcare workers and caregivers, and those regularly exposed to others with or suspected to have the virus, should not rely on a non-medical mask. This will offer a false sense of safety in a setting where prolonged exposure is likely. These individuals should instead where medical masks and personal protective gear for their own safety.
What is a Non-Medical Mask?
Non-medical masks are general face coverings that are often homemade using breathable fabrics. There are other masks that can be bought commercially. These masks cover the face and nose, secure with elastic over the ears or ties behind the head and neck and typically don’t have filters, like the N95 masks, although some designs include an option to add additional filter options in the mask. Non-medical masks can sometimes be washed and reused.
There are many patterns and designs for making masks at home, and now there are any number of stores and groups making masks for people. Scarves or bandanas can also be used as a face mask.
What if I’m sick, should I isolate or social distance from my pets?
There have been instances reported where it appears that animals have been infected with Covid 19, likely from infected humans. There are only a few cases, so we need to learn more before giving a definitive answer. But given the uncertainty, it’s best to be safe than sorry. So if you’re sick with Covid 19, treat your animals the same way you treat others in your household, and whenever possible, have someone else care for them while you’re sick.
When you’re sick you should limit interacting with your pet, just to be safe. This includes avoiding:
- Being kissed or licked
- Sharing food or bedding
If you are unable to have someone else care for your pet while you’re sick, follow the above guidelines, and be sure to wash your hands before and after interacting with them, and wear a face mask.
What should I do if someone in my home has Covid 19?
If someone in your home has Covid 19 , there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself and others:
- Keep the sick person away from others. If possible, the sick person should stay in a separate room, and use a different bathroom. They should also eat in their own room. And to be extra safe, experts are recommending that the person stay away from the pets in the house until they’re better.
- Have them cover their face. The sick person should cover their nose and mouth with a cloth mask when they’re in the same room as other people. If they can't use a face cover, you can help protect yourself by covering your face when you’re in the room with them.
- Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water often, that includes both the sick person and everyone else in the house.
- Clean often. Here are some specific things that can help:
- Wear disposable gloves when you clean. It's also a good idea to wear gloves when you have to touch the sick person's laundry, dishes, utensils, or trash.
- Do the sick person’s laundry separately from everyone else’s in the house, and be careful to avoid contact. Wear gloves and cover your face when doing the laundry, and be sure to wash your hands before and after. Wash or wipe down the outside of the washing machine and dryer after putting in each load.
- Regularly clean things that are touched a lot. This includes counters, bedside tables, doorknobs, computers, phones, and bathroom surfaces.
- Use a disinfectant on surfaces. Soap and water are effective, but disinfectants on surfaces is best. Check your cleaning product labels to make sure they’re effective on viruses, since some products are only effective for bacteria. The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, has a list of products on their website that are effective disinfectants for covid 19.
What if someone I live with gets sick?
Most people who get Covid 19 can safely and fully recover at home. If someone in your home is sick, there things you can do to help them and to protect yourself from becoming infected. If a person is sick they should isolate from the rest of the house, but it’s also important to remember that they will need help, not only in staying isolated, but in meeting their basic needs. The symptoms of the disease can be rough, too, so remember, they’re sick, too. They’ll need your help.
- Help them with basic needs.
- Remind them to follow their doctors instructions
- Help them manage their symptoms with medications and care
- Get them the supplies they need (medicine, toiletries, laundry, food and drink, etcetera)
- Monitor their symptoms to track to see if they’re improving or worsening
- Keep them engaged in the household, they’ll be lonely and feel like they’re a burden.
- Take care of their pets
- Remind them to exercise
- Keep the doctor’s number handy, and call if symptoms worsen
- Seek emergency help if the person has:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
- Protect yourself
- Stay at least 6 feet apart
- Wear a mask, preferably a medical mask if you’re in close contact with the person
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently, use hand sanitizer
- Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible
- If you have to share a space maintain social distancing, wear a face mask, have them wear a face mask, and open a window to increase the air circulation
- Eat in separate rooms and don’t share utensils or dishes
- Wash the sick person’s dishes with soap in hot water, and wear gloves while washing them.
- Wash your hands again after removing the gloves
- Don’t share personal items with a person who is sick, including dishes, toiletries, brushes, sheets, blankets, towels, soap, shampoo
- Keeping it Clean
- Clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces and every day items, like tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics.
- Use soap and water first, then follow up with a disinfectant cleaner.
- Be careful using cleaning products, many can cause further breathing problems if used in closed spaces or combined. Read the instructions.
- If you’re sharing a room with a sick person, don’t over clean. Only clean the person’s area if it’s dirty, to limit contact and possible infection.
- The sick person can clean if they’re feeling healthy enough, but be careful if they are having trouble breathing. Don’t have them use strong cleaners if they’re having any respirator symptoms.
- Make sure the sick person has their own cleaning supplies including tissues, paper towels, cleaners and sponges. Don’t share.
- If you’re sharing a bathroom the sick person should clean up after themselves after each use, including disinfecting. If this isn’t possible, wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom before cleaning it.
- Make sure to use liners or bags in all garbage cans.
- Do the sick person’s laundry separately.
- Don’t shake it out
- Wear disposable gloves
- Wear a face mask
- Wipe down the machines after putting the dirty laundry in
- Wash in hot water whenever possible
- Remove gloves and wash hands right away
- Dry on the hottest setting possible
- Wash hands after putting the clothes in the dryer
- Clean and disinfect the hampers before putting clean clothes back in
- Wash your hands afterwards
What does Self Isolating Mean?
Self-isolation or quarantine is when you have symptoms or you’ve been exposed to the virus and you are trying to avoid spreading it to others, including those in your household.
When you self-isolate you are minimizing any and all interaction with others, staying at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others, and not touching surfaces or sharing items with them without cleaning and disinfecting them.
Here are some tips on how to self isolate (assuming you don’t need medical care)
- Have a large, well-ventilated area, ideally with a separate bathroom
- Don’t share a room with others. If that’s not possible, make sure the beds are at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart.
- Monitor your symptoms daily
- Remain in quarantine isolation for at least 14 days
- If you develop symptoms, especially any difficulty breathing, contact your doctor or medical professional immediately.
- Stay positive, stay connected via telephone or video chat as much as possible.
- Exercise, including breathing exercises.
- Talk during meal times, through doors or distance, to remain a part of the household.
- Use a mask whenever interacting with anyone else.
- Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.
- Clean and disinfect your surroundings and all your dishes, utensils, after using them.
- Don’t panic, and don’t stress out about not being productive. By isolating you are doing something incredibly valuable and selfless.
What if I feel fine but think I was exposed?
If you think you were in close contact with someone with Covid 19 , but you don't have any symptoms, you should self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days. This means staying home as much as possible, and staying at least 6 feet, 2 meters, away from other people in your home. Self-quarantine is slightly different from self-isolation, which is when a person who is sick stays in a completely separate room from others.
You should also monitor and track any symptoms. If you do start to have symptoms, call your doctor or nurse right away.
How can I prevent my child from getting or spreading Covid 19?
While there’s currently no vaccine to prevent Covid 19, there are things you can do to reduce their chances of getting it and slow the spread of infection.
If your child is old enough, you can teach them to:
- Practice "social distancing." This means keeping people, even those who are healthy, away from each other. It’s also sometimes called "physical distancing." This is intended to slow the spread of the virus that causes Covid 19. Keeping your child home is the best way to protect them and others.
- Wear a Mask. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) also recommends that people, including children 2 years and older, cover their face when they need to go out in public. This is mostly so that if your child is sick, even if they don't have any symptoms, they’re less likely to spread the infection to other people.
- Wash their hands with soap and water often. This is especially important after being out in public. Make sure to rub the hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, cleaning the wrists, fingernails, and in between the fingers. Then rinse the hands and dry them with a paper towel that can be thrown away. You can teach them how to do this properly and make it fun by singing songs, to make sure they wash long enough, and thoroughly enough.
- Use Hand Sanitizer. While washing with soap and water is best, if your child isn’t near a sink they can use a hand sanitizing gel to clean their hands. The gels with at least 60 percent alcohol work the best. It's important to keep sanitizer out of young children's reach, since the alcohol can be harmful if swallowed. If your child is younger than 6 years old, help them when they use sanitizer.
- Avoid touching their face with their hands, especially their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Younger children might need help or reminders to do these things.
Are Gas Stations Safe?
For the most part, yes. If you are pumping your own gas make sure you disinfect your hands before touching the pump, that includes not only pumping the gas but also selecting the type and amount. Use your knuckles rather than your fingers on the touch screens, and be sure to wipe down your credit card after using it. Wear a mask.