Understanding how the virus spreads is an important part of reducing your risk of getting COVID-19.

Transmission can happen in a variety of ways. Follow these steps to protect yourself and others against the spread of coronavirus:

Get the Vaccine and Booster Shot

The best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to stay up to date with the vaccines, including boosters. The CDC provides the latest information on vaccine and booster recommendations.

Wash Your Hands

Keeping hands clean helps prevent the spread of germs like COVID-19. 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.

If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer.

Learn how to wash your hands properly, including key times to wash them.

Keep distance from others

Avoid Contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing (putting space between yourself and others), especially if you are at higher risk or are not vaccinated.
Wear a facemask if you're sick or around those who are sick

Wear Masks

  • It is important to wear a mask or respirator when you are sick or caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask with the best fit, protection and comfort for you. 
  • When caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19, a respirator will provide you the best level of protection. 

Learn more about mask myths. In addition, the CDC offers detailed, up-to-date information on how to use and care for your mask.

Cover your face while coughing

Cover Your Mouth and Nose

Covering coughs and sneezes can help prevent the spread of serious respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw used tissues in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Also, avoid touching your face or the front of your mask.

Immediately wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

Clean surfaces

Clean and Disinfect

Cleaning and disinfecting are effective ways to prevent the spread of disease and illness. 

We encourage you to learn more about best cleaning and disinfecting practices.

Stay inside and isolate

If You Are Sick

Stay home. Do not leave your home (except for medical care). You can spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not have symptoms. If you have symptoms, get tested and stay home until you have your results. If you have tested positive (even without symptoms), follow CDC’s isolation recommendations.

Remember to wear a mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and in a health care provider's office.

When not wearing a mask, do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes. (People who are caring for you should wear a mask if they enter your room.)

Learn more about how to treat coronavirus at home. The CDC offers additional tips on how to handle COVID-19 exposure.

Updated 1/6/2023


UMMS provides our expert-reviewed content to keep our community informed. When sharing this copyrighted content, please link to our site so that critical updates are reflected.