What you can do in 14 easy steps to protect your health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Follow Our Steps
Our experts have distilled trusted information about COVID-19 into these fourteen actions everyone can take to help slow the virus’s spread and limit its impact. Click here to put these steps into action with our digital toolkit.
I don’t want to get COVID-19 or spread it. I might even have it and not know it.Click for more info
I don’t want to get COVID-19 or spread it. I might even have it and not know it.
As many as 40%–59% of cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning that the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is detected but symptoms never develop. Pre-symptomatic cases occur when the virus can present before symptom onset.It’s important to be aware of the rise in COVID-19 variants. The Delta variant, the dominant strain currently in circulation, is highly transmissible and can result in a severe illness and death. This additional threat necessitates safety precautions for everyone.
Why should I care? I don’t feel sick.
- If you are carrying the virus, you can transmit the disease to others, even without experiencing symptoms.
- That means you can transmit the disease to others without knowing it, and you can get it from those who do not seem sick.
To prevent the spread of the disease, if you are unvaccinated, practice social distancing and wear a mask when around others. If you are vaccinated, wear a mask indoors in areas where the coronavirus is spreading as well as on public transportation and in other settings as needed or required. If you or someone in your home is sick or has any of the symptoms listed here, isolate at home – by separating those who are infected away from those who are not, the chain of transmission can be broken.
The risk of COVID-19 transmission especially the Delta variant that represents more than 83% of cases in the United States increases with more attendees at gatherings, longer interactions among people, and higher levels of community transmission in the area where the event is being held. That is why it is important for unvaccinated individuals to wear masks, practice social distancing by keeping at least 6-feet apart from others who are not in your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Even people who are fully vaccinated should take extra precautions indoors in areas where COVID-19 infections are spreading and when you don’t know the vaccination status of others. Everyone should wear a mask on public transportation. Getting vaccinated is a critical action to protecting yourself and others from COVID-19.
Additional Information Resources
I’ll get vaccinated and a booster when eligible. I’ll urge friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.Click for more info
I’ll get vaccinated and a booster when eligible. I’ll urge friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.
Getting vaccinated is the very best way to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are available for anyone 12 and older. Encouraging your friends, family members, and co-workers to get vaccinated can foster vaccine confidence and motivate others to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Several very effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to prevent spread of the virus and are now being administered across America and around the world. Our national goal in the United States is to have at least 70-80% of American adults fully vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. All adults became eligible for COVID-19 vaccination on April 19, 2021. On August 2nd, 2021, 70% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, meeting a national goal for immunizations. The U.S. government plans to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots widely available to anyone in America starting on September 20, 2021 as infections rise from the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Adolescents, aged 12 to 15, can get vaccinated but children are not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. It is important that you take advantage of this opportunity to protect yourself and others from infection. Learn more about the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine here.
To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you:
- Visit this site to find a vaccine near you
- Text your zip code to 438829
- Call 1-800-232-0233
Many schools and workplaces are requiring vaccination before returning. The Federal government has announced it will require employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing to return to their offices. Because COVID-19 is a new disease with novel vaccines to prevent infection, it is understandable that you may have questions about what happens before, during, and after your appointment to get vaccinated.
The information below will help you know what to expect before and at the time of vaccination, and provides resources that you can use to monitor your health after you are immunized:
- When you are vaccinated, both you and the person administering the vaccination will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth. Be sure to stay 6 feet apart from others while inside the facility and while standing in lines.
- You should also be provided a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you are being offered that contains information about the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine.
- After getting immunized, you should receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, as well as the date and place you were immunized. With the three currently available COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., you will need either one or two shots depending on the vaccine you receive in order to get maximal protection. Be sure to get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to. COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots do not provide full protection until two weeks after administration. It takes time for your body to build protective immunity after any vaccination. The vaccine provider should also give you an appointment for your second shot which you will receive 3-4 weeks after the first one.
Ask your healthcare provider about enrolling in v-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also reminds you to get your second dose if you need one. Learn more here.
Encourage your family, relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues to get vaccinated and urge them to spread the word! Together, that is how we will beat the virus!
Additional Information Resources
- Where to Find a Vaccine Appointment in Your State
- Plan Your Vaccine
- Who Gets Vaccinated First
- When You Can Anticipate To Get Vaccinated
- What to Expect at Your Vaccine Appointment
- What to Expect After Getting Your Vaccine
- Interested in Volunteering for a COVID-19 Prevention Clinical Study?
- How the CDC is Making COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations
If I am fully vaccinated, I can resume most of my pre-pandemic activities but will continue to follow Federal, state and local public health guidance.Click for more info
If I am fully vaccinated, I can resume most of my pre-pandemic activities but will continue to follow Federal, state and local public health guidance.
Currently FDA emergency use authorized vaccines in the United States are highly effective in protecting vaccinated people against severe COVID-19 including hospitalizations and death. If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume many of the activities you had stopped doing because of pandemic. Be sure to follow Federal, State and local public health guidance. New unpublished data from the CDC suggests that vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. Because of this recent research that vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to other people, they should wear masks indoors in areas of the country where the coronavirus is spreading and in certain other settings including while on public transportation. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated. How long vaccine protection lasts and how much vaccines protect against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants are still under investigation.
Because it takes time for your body to build protection after vaccination, you’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks following immunization. For COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots, you should wait to resume activities until about two weeks after your second vaccination. For COVID-19 vaccines that require one shot, you should wait about 2 weeks after vaccination for your body to build protection and to resume usual activities.
See CDC guidance below for fully vaccinated individuals:
- You can resume activities, without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except indoors where COVID-19 infections are spreading and where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business, workplace, and school guidance.
- You can travel within the United States without getting tested before or after travel and without self-quarantining after travel in most states and cities.
- You will not need to get tested before leaving the United States for international travel unless it is required by the destination. You will not have to self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States if you are fully vaccinated.
- If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.
Even when fully vaccinated, I should still:
- Get tested if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
- Continue to encourage others to get vaccinated. Do your part in stopping the spread of misinformation about these life-saving immunizations.
Additional Information Resources
I'll wear a mask and distance when I’m around others outside of my household if I’m unvaccinated. If I’m vaccinated, I will wear a mask in areas where the coronavirus is spreading and on public transportation as well as in certain other settings when needed or required.Click for more info
I'll wear a mask and distance when I’m around others outside of my household if I’m unvaccinated. If I’m vaccinated, I will wear a mask in areas where the coronavirus is spreading and on public transportation as well as in certain other settings when needed or required.
Wearing a mask protects you and others from being infected with the virus. Studies show that particular types of masks and wearing two face coverings at the same time can reduce viral transmission by more than 90%. Masks provide a barrier that helps prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and between people when the person wearing a face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. Masks also protect the wearer from the virus as well. Masks work best when everyone wears them, but not all masks provide the same protection. When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has. Select masks with multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric and, ideally, a nose wire. Masks should block light when held up to a bright light source. For a better fit and extra protection, wear two masks by placing a disposable surgical mask underneath your cloth mask, combining your cloth mask with a fitter or brace, or placing a nylon covering over your mask. Researchers found that a cloth mask alone only blocked about 44% of particles, but when a cloth mask was layered over a disposable surgical mask, more than 92% of potentially infectious particles were blocked by creating a tighter fit and eliminating leakage. Additionally, given the spread of the virus, it is of utmost importance that masks be worn properly and kept clean.
Vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to others so they should wear masks indoors in areas of the country where the coronavirus is spreading and in certain other settings including while on public transportation. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in their community, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated. Many schools, businesses and workplaces are requiring masking. The CDC is recommending that children under the age of 12 and faculty and staff at schools wear masks to reduce transmission of the virus.
Why wear a mask?
- Wearing a face covering has the dual benefit of protecting the wearer from spreading and becoming infected with the virus.
- With a growing number of virus variants in circulation, wearing two masks provides extra protection and a better fit.
- Recent research from clinical and laboratory studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth, decreasing COVID-19 transmission.
- Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely and properly used by people in public settings. Masks are now required to be worn on planes and other forms of mass public transportation.
- However, not everyone should wear a mask, including children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. In these instances, consider how adaptations and alternatives for mask wearing can be made.
How do you properly wear a mask and improve its effectiveness?
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on your face covering.
- Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
- Fit the mask snugly against the sides of your face, slipping the loops over your ears or tying the strings behind your head. Improve the fit of a single surgical mask by knotting the ear loops and tucking in the sides close to the face to prevent air from leaking out around the edges and toform a closer fit. In a recent study, an unknotted medical mask alone blocked only about 42% of aerosol particles from a simulated cough, but exposure to potentially infectious aerosols decreased by about 95% when individuals wore knotted medical masks. A good fit is critical to preventing spread of the virus.
- A rule of thumb to follow is if you have to continually adjust your mask, it doesn’t fit properly, and you might need to find a different mask type or brand.
- Consider using a mask fitter or brace over a disposable or cloth mask to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the mask.
- Make sure you can breathe easily. Select fabric types that facilitate airflow, and avoid materials such as vinyl that can make it difficult to breathe.
- A cloth mask or face covering is NOT a surgical mask or N95 respirator (which at this time should be reserved for healthcare professionals and other essential healthcare workers). Try to wear a surgical mask under your cloth face covering if possible.
- KN95masks are a type of filtering facepiece respirator commonly made in China that resemble N95 masks used in the United States. Look for KN95 masks that meet requirements similar to those set by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for respirators. Beware of counterfeit KN95 masks. Don’t use one if you have trouble breathing or if you have certain types of facial hair. Wear KN95 masks alone – don’t wear another mask over it.
- Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your mask and wash your hands immediately afterwards. Store your face mask properly and if it is a cloth covering, wash it regularly to keep it clean.
Additional Information Resources
I’ll wash my hands often.
Washing hands prevents the spread of germs from respiratory droplets like those that carry COVID-19 and other contagious respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. Germs can spread from surfaces to you when you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, or prepare and eat food without washing your hands. Coughing and sneezing into your hands and then touching others can also spread disease. Washing your hands for at least twenty seconds can remove the germs before you touch your face and other surfaces.
When should I wash my hands?
- Before touching your face,
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Before eating, preparing food or touching your face.
- After using the restroom or visiting a public place.
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper.
- After caring for someone who is sick.
- After touching animals or pets.
- After leaving a public place.
How to properly wash your hands
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content if soap and water is not readily available. Squeeze the sanitizer on your palm and rub it on all surfaces of your hands until dry, about 20 seconds. However, sanitizer does not remove all types of germs, and soap and water are more effective. Learn more about selecting and using hand sanitizer here.
What does good handwashing look like?
I'll clean my home regularly, especially frequently touched surfaces.
Though COVID-19 primarily spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and viral particles that contain the virus, in some circumstances, these viral particles may contaminate surfaces people touch. If you then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them, you might become infected. That is why it is important to keep frequently touched surfaces clean. By doing so, you can help prevent the virus from spreading at home, in schools and in workplaces. Routinely, clean surfaces with soap and water to remove germs, dirt, and other impurities. Disinfecting with household cleaners and EPA-approved products kills germs on surfaces.
- Cleaning with a household product that contains soap or detergent reduces the amount of germs on surfaces and decreases risk of COVID-19 infection from surfaces. In most situations, cleaning alone will remove most virus particles on surfaces.
- Disinfection to reduce transmission of COVID-19 at home is likely not needed unless someone in your home is sick or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within the last 24 hours.
What should I do if someone in my home is sick?
- Disinfect your home when someone is sick or if a person who is positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within the last 24 hours. Disinfecting kills any remaining germs on surfaces and reduces the spread of germs.
- If you are caring for someone who has COVID-19, follow the detailed instructions for caregivers found here.
- Always keep disinfectants out of the reach of children.
Additional Information Resources
I’ll cover my coughs and sneezes.
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be inhaled by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, these droplets may contaminate surfaces that they touch. Unvaccinated people who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.
COVID-19 is transmitted in three main ways:
- Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
- Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
- Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.
What should I do when I cough or sneeze?
- Cover your nose and mouth with either a tissue or your elbow.
- Throw away used tissues immediately.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after you cough or sneeze. If there is no soap and water available, clean your hands with a sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol content.
Properly covering coughs and sneezes, as well as washing hands immediately afterwards can help limit the spread of infection.
I’ll follow guidelines about getting tested.
COVID-19 testing is a critical diagnostic tool, providing people with important information about whether or not they’re infected.
The CDC recommends that the following groups of people get tested:
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status or prior infection;
- People who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19. This now includes vaccinated individuals who have been around someone who has COVID-19. They should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even without symptoms.
- People who are not fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine who have partaken in high risk activities or been in high risk environments for COVID-19, such as large gatherings or crowded indoor settings.
- People who have been asked or referred to get tested by their healthcare provider, local or state health department should get tested.
For specific groups or situations, the CDC provides additional guidance:
The CDC recommends the following groups may not need testing:
- People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested so long as they do not develop new symptoms.
For public health reasons, your public health official(s) or healthcare provider may advise specific people, or groups of people, to be tested. You should follow this advice. As a part of returning to work or school, you may be required to demonstrate that you have tested negative for COVID-19 and that you are vaccinated. Refer to your employer’s or school’s COVID-19 operating plans in order to fulfill their requirements.
Getting Test Results
To get your test results, please check with the group that performed your test, such as your healthcare provider or health department. How long it will take to obtain your test results often depends on the type of test used.
- If you test positive, follow these steps to prevent others from getting sick.
- If you test negative, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. You may need additional testing if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Continue to take steps to protect yourself.
Not everyone needs to be tested at this time. If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been in close contact with someone known to have SARS-CoV-2 infection (meaning being within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) and you have been fully vaccinated, you probably do not need a test unless recommended or required by your healthcare provider, public health official, school, or workplace.
Where to Get Tested
To find the latest information in your community on where to get tested, visit your state or local health department’s website. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first. Visit this website for community testing location in your State.
Get Tested for Traveling
For Travel Within the United States: State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place including testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements upon arrival. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the state or territorial and local health department where you are, along your route, and where you are going.
- Fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested to travel within the United States.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, you should get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. After you have traveled, you should get tested with a viral test 3-5 days and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days, and if your test is positive, be sure to isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. If you choose not to get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
- Refer to the CDC’s website for additional guidance
For International Travel: the CDC does not have a testing requirement for outbound vaccinated travelers, but recommends that you get tested with a viral test (NAAT or antigen) 1-3 days before you travel out of the country if you are unvaccinated. Travelers should check with their international destinations for entry requirements including testing and vaccination as well as if there are quarantine protocols upon arrival.
All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.
Learn more about travel requirements here.
Types of COVID-19 Tests
There are three main types of tests that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). These include molecular, antigen, and antibody tests. Learn to differentiate among these types of tests below:
- Molecular Tests diagnose active coronavirus infection through detecting the genetic material of the virus. They’re also referred to as diagnostic tests, viral tests, molecular tests, or RT-PCR tests. This test is typically highly accurate and usually does not need to be repeated. Most samples are taken through a nasal or throat swab, though a few tests gather samples through saliva. Results are available on the same day you get tested in some locations, while for others it can take up to a week to get results.
- Antigen Tests diagnose active coronavirus infection through detecting specific proteins on the surface of the virus. They’re also referred to as a rapid diagnostic test. Most samples are taken through a nasal or throat swab, and results are usually available within one hour of testing. Positive results are usually highly accurate but negative results may need to be confirmed with a molecular test. These tests cannot definitively rule out active coronavirus infection: they are more likely to miss an active coronavirus infection compared to molecular tests. Your health care provider may order a molecular test if your antigen test shows a negative result but you have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Antibody Tests show if you’ve been infected by coronavirus in the past. They’re also referred to as serological or blood tests. Most samples are taken through a finger stick or blood draw, and results are usually available on the same day of testing or within one to three days. Sometimes a second antibody test is needed for accurate results. These cannot diagnose active coronavirus infection at the time of the test or show that you do not have COVID-19. The FDA is not currently recommending that antibody tests be used to determine vaccine response in individuals. Antibody tests should only be used to assess past infections. The CDC also does not list Antibody tests on their “How to Monitor Vaccine Effectiveness” Page.
- Home Based Tests – There are now FDA-emergency use authorized COVID-19 tests available for purchase online or in a store that can be used at home. At-home tests allow you to collect your own sample and test it with a system that gives you results in minutes. Additionally, the FDA has authorized some antigen tests for current infection that can be purchased online or in a store that allow you to collect your own sample at home and then send it to a laboratory for analysis. These tests may vary in their accuracy. View the CDC’s resource page on self-testing for more information.
Additional Information Resources
Find a Community-Based Testing Site Near You
What to Expect When Getting Tested
What Your Testing Results Mean
Guidance for Healthcare Workers about Testing
I’ll isolate myself if I feel sick and call if my symptoms worsen.
If you are feeling sick, you should stay home, isolate yourself from others, practice good hygiene, and monitor your symptoms. Some people infected with coronavirus may not have any symptoms. However, when symptoms occur they can range from mild to moderate to severe. For some people, the disease is lethal. Most people with COVID-19 have a mild illness and can recover at home without medical care.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If you think you have COVID-19, call your healthcare professional about next steps including a virtual or in person visit and to determine whether you should be tested. If you are having persistent symptoms, call ahead to your medical provider or local health care facility before seeking medical attention.
You should seek care immediately if you experience any of these emergency warning signs (not exhaustive) and if needed, call 911:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
What actions to take if you feel sick?
I’ll focus on my mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic can take a toll on your mental health. Increased stress during this time period can result in anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The stress can also exacerbate underlying mental illness and substance use disorders. Developing coping strategies, helping others, and seeking professional help if needed are important actions that you can take during these challenging times.
Stay connected. It’s been difficult staying apart from friends and family during this public health crisis but remember that the purpose was to protect you and those you care about during the pandemic. If you feel sick and/or are unvaccinated, make sure you practice social distancing and wear a mask when you visit others. And in situations where it is unadvisable to be together in person, be safe, and use mobile devices and social media to stay connected with your family, friends, and colleagues:
- Participate in online activities that link you to others.
- Have a virtual movie night, book club or get together.
- Play online video or board games with your family and friends.
If you are fully vaccinated, socializing in-person with other fully vaccinated individuals can be positive for your mental health. Reconnecting to friends, family and colleagues is helpful after such a long period of social isolation.
Use Stressbusters. Reduce anxiety and mood changes by doing things to help you de-stress, like listening to music, reading, exercising, being outside, and engaging in other activities you enjoy.
Get Help. Depression, anxiety, grief, substance use, and suicidal thoughts and behavior have increased during the pandemic. If you feel overwhelmed and are experiencing symptoms of mental illness or have increased your use of alcohol or drugs, consider talking with a counselor, mental health professional or other healthcare provider virtually or in person. Listed below are some helplines for assistance:
Call your physician or other healthcare provider to discuss these issues.
- SAMHSA National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year (English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. For referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations, call 1-800-487-4889. Callers can also order free publications and other information. Consider visiting the online treatment locator.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
- Disaster Distress Helpline provides immediate crisis counselling to people affected by the coronavirus pandemic and other disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255
Domestic Violence has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Connect with these resources, if you need help:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat
- The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116, TTY Instructions
Additional Information Resources
I'll adhere to my state and local guidelines.
In order to keep America’s communities open, Federal, state and local health departments play an important role in providing essential public health services and guidance. Health department governance varies from state to state. The relationship between state health agencies and regional/local public health departments differs across states which has important implications for the delivery of essential public health services.
How can my state and local health departments help me?
- Provide information on where to get vaccinated in your community
- Provide the latest information and resources about the COVID-19 outbreak in your area.
- Provide guidance on COVID-19 infection prevention and control, community mitigation, surveillance, data analytics, and contact tracing.
- Provide testing If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider, visit your state or local health department’s website, or check out this information resource to find up-to-date local information on where you can be tested.
During pandemic outbreaks, state, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place, including testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements upon arrival that you must follow. Check the state, territorial, tribal and local health department where you are residing, along your route, and your destination. Prepare to
As communities recover, I’ll stay vigilant about proven public health practices.Click for more info
As communities recover, I’ll stay vigilant about proven public health practices.
As schools, businesses, workplaces, and community organizations recover, you can protect yourself with proven public health practices and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other people as well.
If you are unvaccinated, wearing a mask when you are with others, washing your hands often, limiting close face-to-face contact with those outside of your home, and getting vaccinated can significantly decrease the risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19. If you are vaccinated, wear a mask on public transportation, indoors in areas of the country where the virus is spreading, and as may be required in other settings. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in the community, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
What actions should you take if you are unvaccinated?
- Know and follow your state or local health guidelines.
- Wear a mask and keep at least a 6-feet distance from others if you are unvaccinated and/or feeling sick, including while at parks and other recreational facilities.
- Use hand sanitizer when entering and leaving stores and restaurants.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Consider using online services for conducting essential errands (e.g. shopping, online banking, etc.)
- Get vaccinated if you are age 12 or older.
When should you stay home?
- If you are unvaccinated and came into contact with a person who has COVID-19, you should quarantine by staying home for 14 days.
- People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, if you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.
- If you are sick with COVID-19, make sure to stay home until it is safe for you to be around others.
- If you or someone you live with is immunocompromised or at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, it is especially important to know how to be as safe as possible to prevent spread of the disease.
We must stay vigilant about practicing these proven public health actions recommended by federal, local and state public health officials to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Why should I be vigilant?
- Staying vigilant is important no matter the level of COVID-19 outbreak in your community so as to keep homes, schools, workplaces, and commercial establishments safe.
- Although we are learning more everyday about the new coronavirus, the situation is unpredictable. Check regularly for the latest news about the outbreak in your community and for information about school and business re-openings, masking guidance, as well as stay-at-home orders.
- We are not safe unless everyone is safe, so please do your part. Getting vaccinated is the best thing to do to prevent further spread of the virus!
Additional tips for when you cannot stay home
Knowledge is power — I’ll keep informed.
Public health organizations and local influencers play an important role in communicating trusted and up-to-date information about COVID-19. However, inaccurate and harmful messages about the disease are circulating on social media and online. This infodemic, an overabundance of misinformation, has led to confusion and even mistrust about the public health response.
In a public health emergency, misinformation or mixed messages can cost lives. We all must stay informed and help prevent the spread of false information and rumors about COVID-19. That’s why the Surgeon General issued a Call to Action on Confronting Health Misinformation during the pandemic and beyond. Health misinformation is a serious threat to public health and we all have a role to play in combatting it.
How can I stay informed and avoid misinformation about COVID-19?
- Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as Beat The Virus, the CDC, WHO, and your local health department.
- Learn how to identify and avoid sharing health misinformation. On social media, check for a blue verified badge next to the account name. This can help you determine if it’s a trustworthy account. If you’re not sure if it’s reliable information, don’t share it.
- Be cautious about sharing your personal information on unexpected phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media platforms. Some fraudsters and scammers are posing as contact tracers and public health officials. Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and messages must be tailored to their needs.
- Avoid advertisements that promote fake COVID-19 testing kits and treatments. If you have questions about testing or test kits, you should ask your doctor or another trusted healthcare provider.
- Verify the accuracy of information by checking with trustworthy and credible resources. Cross-check what you read online with what experts at the CDC, NIH, FEMA, and WHO are reporting on the same topic or issue.
- Engage with your friends and family on the problem of health misinformation. Discuss misperceptions with empathy and provide reliable sources of information.
For access to trusted, comprehensive, and up-to-date resources about COVID-19, visit our Resources Page.
Additional Information Resources
I'll remember, it’s not just about me, it’s about all of us.
The Delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been rapidly spreading between people in communities across our country. The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus and to get vaccinated.
You can protect yourself and others by following these 7 steps if you are unvaccinated:
- Get vaccinated and get a booster when you are eligible!
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Stay 6 feet apart from other people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces.
- Monitor your health every day.
If you are vaccinated, spread the word to others about the importance of getting immunized and remember to get a booster when you are eligible. Use Beat The Virus tiles to share public health messages with others on your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
We are all in this together to #BeatTheVirus Continue to observe proven public health practices and share this information with friends, family and colleagues to help prevent the spread of COVID-19!
Additional Information Resources
Stop the Spread
COVID-19 remains a highly contagious infectious disease. Current estimates suggest that every person with this novel coronavirus infects 2 to 3 other people. New variants circulating in communities like the Delta strain are making the virus even more contagious and deadly.
To stop the spread of the virus, be sure to put into practice proven public health measures including getting vaccinated, social distancing when necessary, wearing a mask when recommended, washing your hands often, and disinfecting surfaces. If someone in your household has COVID-19 and is being cared for at home, it is very important that the entire household stays home if they are not vaccinated and even if they have no symptoms. If possible, the caregiver should be someone who is not at high risk for severe illness from the virus.
Wear a Mask
Why We Wear Masks: Masks are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19. They slow the spread of the virus by protecting you and others from infection. It’s been reported that if 95% of Americans wore masks, we could save 46,000 lives by November 1, 2021.
When to Wear a Mask: Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local businesses, workplaces and schools as well as on mass transportation. Additionally, to reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in public where the virus is spreading. Unvaccinated individuals can forego masks during various outdoor activities such as running, biking, and walking, or where state and local guidelines do not require mask usage. However, if you are unvaccinated, it is prudent to wear a mask to protect yourself and others. See Action Step #3: “I’ll wear a mask if I’m unvaccinated when I am around others in certain settings” for full guidance on masks.
How to Wear a Mask: Wear the mask over your nose and mouth so that it completely covers them, and secure the mask under your chin. Be sure that it fits snugly against the sides of your face, leaving no gaps. Watch this video to learn how to put on a mask correctly. Wear two masks if possible for maximum protection.
New York Times - Stand inside an N95 respirator to see how it works
The augmented-reality experience lets you stand inside the magnified fibers of an N95 respirator to see how it filters aerosols. Find the New York Times story here. Launch aerosols of different sizes and see how they are captured by the fibers of the respirator. To experience this in your space, you will need the Instagram app.
To view on Instagram, open the camera on your device and point to the QR tag below.
Contact Tracing is a critical tool in the pandemic response to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus. Contact tracing helps break the chain of transmission and facilitates limiting the spread of the disease. Learn more about it here. Genomic testing helps identify the variants causing COVID-19 illness. Learn more about genomic testing here.
What to Do If You Feel Sick
COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus that emerged in 2019. As many as 40-59% of people infected with this coronavirus may not have any symptoms, but when they symptoms occur they can range from mild, moderate to severe. You should seek care immediately if you experience any of these emergency warning signs (not exhaustive):
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
If you think you have coronavirus, call ahead before seeking medical attention. Telehealth services may be available with healthcare providers. Always call 911 if you have a medical emergency.
Look to the CDC for the latest recommendations about responding to COVID-19. You can also visit the Self-checker on that website to help you determine if you need medical attention.
Boosting mental health
It’s normal to feel sad, anxious, confused, scared or angry during a crisis even as cases fall and vaccinations increase. That’s why social support is critical during these stressful times.
Stay connected with your family, friends, colleagues and community,
Reduce anxiety by doing things to help you de-stress, like listening to music, reading, exercising and other activities you enjoy. Limit your exposure to any media coverage that could trigger anxiety.
If you feel overwhelmed, consider virtually talking or having an in-person meeting with a counselor or mental health care provider.
Get Vaccinated to Protect Against COVID-19
Everyone should get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 unless there are special circumstances. COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the various COVID-19 variants including the highly transmissible Delta mutation, which is why getting vaccinated is perhaps more important than ever. COVID-19 vaccination are especially critical for people who may be more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, such as older adults and people with certain medical conditions. The U.S. government plans to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots widely available to anyone in America starting on September 20, 2021 as infections rise from the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Remember to get a booster shot too!
Text your zipcode to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you!
The 3Ws Lead the Way
Wear a mask, watch your distance (stay at least 6 feet apart), and wash your hands. And get vaccinated today! Remember to get a booster shot when you are eligible.