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 Omicron strain and its extremely contagious BA.2 variant, the dominant strain currently in circulation, is highly transmissible and can result in severe illness and death, particularly in unvaccinated people.
Why should I care? I don’t feel sick, and the threat no longer feels as worrisome.
- If you are carrying the virus, you can infect 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.
- The virus continues to mutate and spread even though many Americans have been immunized and are returning to their normal routines.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, if you are unvaccinated, practice social distancing and wear a high quality mask when around others. If you are vaccinated, masking may not be necessary at this time if you live in a low-risk area. Wear a mask indoors in high-risk areas where the coronavirus is rapidly spreading as well as on public transportation and in other settings as needed or required and if you are immunocompromised. Getting vaccinated and boosted if you are eligible are critical actions for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19.
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.
Additional Information Resources
I’ll stay up-to-date on my immunizations and receive booster shots when eligible. I’ll urge friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.Click for more info
I’ll stay up-to-date on my immunizations and receive booster shots 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 5 years 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. Now, anyone ages 12 years and older can get a booster shot 5 months after they have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series or 2 months after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The CDC recommends a 2nd mRNA booster for immunocompromised people five months after receiving the 1st booster shot. A second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended people ages 50 or older. This second booster dose can be given to those eligible four months after a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Several very effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to prevent spread of the virus The CDC now recommends mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) rather than other vaccine types. Read CDC’s media statement about their vaccine recommendation.
Even though vaccines have been widely available for some time, more people must get vaccinated to reach the national goal in the United States of at least 80-90% of American adults fully vaccinated and boosted. All adults became eligible for COVID-19 vaccination on April 19, 2021. Adolescents, aged 12 to 15, can get vaccinated but children, ages 5 to 11 are only eligible for the COVID-19 Pfizer 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.
Everyone, ages 12 years and older, can get a booster shot. Teens, ages 12 years and up, are eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster dose, while adults, ages 18 years and older, have the option to either get the same COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series, or to get a different COVID-19 vaccine. When booking your appointment, consider whether or not you have a preference for the vaccine type that you originally received, or if you would prefer to get a different booster. The CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or J&J) for people, ages 18 years and older. You should consider the benefits and risks of each product and discuss with your healthcare provider which COVID-19 vaccine is the most appropriate booster for you with a preference for people to receive mRNA vaccines in the United States.
To find a COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose near you:
- Visit this site to find a vaccine near you
- Text your zip code to 438829
- Call 1-800-232-0233
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 Resources about COVID-19 Vaccinations
- Where to Find a Vaccine Appointment in Your State
- What to Expect at Your Vaccine Appointment
- What to Expect After Getting Your Vaccine
- How the CDC is Making COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations
If I am up-to-date on my immunizations, I can resume many of my pre-pandemic activities but will be sure to follow Federal, state and local public health guidance.Click for more info
If I am up-to-date on my immunizations, I can resume many of my pre-pandemic activities but will be sure to follow Federal, state and local public health guidance.
The vaccines currently available in the United States are highly effective in protecting vaccinated people against severe COVID-19 including hospitalizations and death. If you are up to date on your vaccinations, you can resume many of the activities you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. However, as variants continue to emerge, it is very important to get a booster when you are eligible and to follow Federal, State and local public health guidance about masking and other public health measures.
Evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who have received a booster are less likely to have symptomatic infection or transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others.
Recent research has revealed that vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to other people so they should wear high quality masks indoors in high risk areas of the country where the coronavirus is rapidly spreading and in certain other settings including while on public transportation. People who are up-to-date on their immunizations 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. Recent data has shown that immunity decreases after 5 months with mRNA vaccines and 2 months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine resulting in a rising number of breakthrough infections. Therefore, boosters are needed to help protect against acquiring and transmitting COVID-19.
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. It takes about 1-2 weeks for boosters to increase immune protection as well.
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 5-7 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 5 days if your test result is positive but you are asymptomatic. It’s advisable to get a viral test that is negative before interacting with other people.
Even when fully vaccinated including having received a booster, I should still:
- Get tested if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Get a rapid test if you are going to be in a large gathering
- 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.
- When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
- Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People
- Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations
- CDC Viral Testing Tool
To protect myself and others, I’ll wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 community level is high, regardless of vaccination status.Click for more info
To protect myself and others, I’ll wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 community level is high, regardless of vaccination status.
Wearing a high quality 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. To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently in high risk areas where the virus is spreading . Masks and respirators are effective at reducing transmission of COVID-19, when worn consistently and correctly. Everyone ages 2 years and older should properly wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 community level is high, regardless of vaccination status. The Administration has distributed N-95’s to Americans so that everyone has access to a high-quality mask. You can find these masks
Masks and respirators can provide different levels of protection depending on the type of mask and how they are used. Certified N95 and K95 masks are preferable for achieving maximum protection against COVID-19. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.
When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Gaps can be caused by choosing the wrong size or type of mask and when a mask is worn with facial hair. It is important to check that it fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin. 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.
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.
- Properly fitted N-95 respirators provide the highest level of protection. Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease.
- 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 currently 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?
- Use a high-quality mask, if possible a N95 that has a NIOSH stamp or a certified KN95 mask
- 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. Use a surgical mask with three layers if possible. 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.Try to wear a surgical mask over a cloth face covering or use a certified K95 or N95 mask if possible.
- KN95masks are a type of filtering face piece respirator commonly made in China that resembles 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.
- The ASTM has tested some masks. Look for a Level 3 certification for enhanced mask protection.
- 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.
- The government is distributing high quality masks at no cost. Click here to find them in your .
Additional Information Resources
- Types of Masks
- High Risk Areas of the Country Where Masks Should Be Worn
- What You Need to Know About Masks
- Ways to Improve How Your Mask Protects You
- Additional Ways to Upgrade the Fit and Filtration of your Mask
- Find Free Masks (N95 Respirators) Near You
- Comprehensive Mask Testing Data Bank
- Project N95 – National Critical Equipment Clearinghouse for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
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. As continue to protect ourselves from emerging variants, practicing good hygiene is essential to staying well.
- 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. As we continue to protect ourselves from emerging variants, practicing good hygiene is essential to staying well.
- 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.
How to clean safely and effectively?
- Clean high-touch surfaces regularly and after you have visitors in your home.
- Focus on high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, and counter tops
- Clean other surfaces in your home when they are visibly dirty or as needed. Clean them more frequently if people in your household are more likely to get very sick fromCOVID-19. You might also choose to disinfect.
- Take steps in your home to limit contamination of surfaces from airborne particles or from touching surfaces with contaminated hands.
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 for safe and effective cleaning and disinfection:
- Cleaning and Disinfection for Households
- EPA’s Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
- Six Steps for Safe & Effective Disinfectant Use
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. As we continue to protect ourselves from emerging variants, practicing behaviors to prevent the spread of all airborne viruses should become a routine behavior.
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 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.Click for more info
I’ll follow guidelines about getting tested to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 testing is a critical diagnostic tool, providing people with important information about whether or not they’re infected. Now more than ever, testing is critical to safely return to work, school, and interact with others in our communities. 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 after their exposure, even without symptoms. People who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations should get tested immediately when they find out they are a close contact. If their test result is negative, they should get tested again 5–7 days after their last exposure to someone with COVID-19 or immediately if symptoms develop.
- People who are not up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations 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.
The CDC has launched an designed to help both healthcare providers and individuals understand COVID-19 testing options. This tool helps healthcare providers quickly access the most relevant, actionable information to determine what type(s) of COVID-19 testing they should recommend to patients. The tool helps individuals determine what type of test they should seek. After test results are in, the tool can help interpret findings and guide next steps. You can find the tool
The government is providing four at home COVID-19 tests free to all American households. Visit COVIDTests.gov to order your free COVID-19 self-tests.
Additionally, insurance plans are now required to cover at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests purchased on or after January 15, 2022. Your plan is required to provide reimbursement for 8 tests per month for each individual on the plan, regardless of whether the tests are bought all at once or at separate times throughout the month.
Types of COVID-19 Tests
There are several types of tests that have received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). These include molecular, antigen, antibody tests, and at-home 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, PCR, 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 still take several days 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. They should be used as close to attending an event as possible because they detect when a person is infectious. However, 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 with the 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 tests cannot diagnose active coronavirus infection or show that you do not have COVID-19. The FDA does not recommend that antibody tests be used to determine vaccine response in individuals. Antibody tests should only be used to assess whether someone has had COVID-19 in the past. Please note that the CDC 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. Nevertheless, COVID-19 self-tests are a risk-reduction measure and are recommended for use before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household. They should be used right before attending an event as they test for infectiousness. The federal government has purchased a billion at-home COVID test kits that are being sent to people who request them on a website- www.covidtests.gov. Americans can order free rapid coronavirus tests online at COVIDTests.gov that will be shipped at no cost to your residence. Each household can order four tests on two different occasions. People with private insurance can get reimbursed for the purchase of 8 COVID tests each month. Some pharmacies provide tests to people at no cost at point of sale and directly bill their insurance company. View the CDC’s resource page on self-testing for more information.
How to find a test
- Visit COVIDTests.gov to order four free COVID-19 tests for your household.
- Purchase a home test at your pharmacy or other over the counter venue and it will be reimbursed by your insurance plan. Private health insurance plans are required to cover the 8 over-the-counter tests every month for every individual on the plan at up to $12 per test – or $24 for a box of two tests. Consumers can either purchase the testing kits at no cost or submit receipts for reimbursement from the insurance company.
- Visit your state, tribal, local, or territorial health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing
- Visit your healthcare provider or public health department to get a PCR test or antigen test.
- Consider using either a self-collection kit or a self-test for use at home if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and can’t get tested by a healthcare provider.
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 and received a booster, 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 vaccination, testing requirements, 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.
- People who are up-to-date with their vaccinations do not need to get tested to travel within the United States.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, you should get a viral test 1-3. days before your trip. After you have traveled, you should get a viral test 3-5 days later, 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 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 people are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 1 day 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.
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
- Testing Basics from the FDA
- What You Need to Know about Self-Testing
- CDC Viral Testing Tool
I’ll isolate myself if I feel sick and call a doctor if my symptoms worsen.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic no longer feels as threatening,, if you are feeling sick, you should still stay home, isolate yourself from others, practice good hygiene, and monitor your symptoms. 500 people are still dying every day from the disease in the United States. 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.
The CDC recommends that if you test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, you should stay home for 5 days. After this period, if you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving, you can leave your house but should continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days. It’s advisable to get a viral test with a negative result before interacting with others.
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?
- COVID-19 Screening Tool
- What to Do if You Are Sick
- CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker
- When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19
- When to Quarantine
I’ll focus on my mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic can take a toll on your mental health. Stress has increased over the past two years, and for some people has led to anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD. This pandemic stress has also exacerbated underlying mental illness and substance use disorders in some individuals. Finding ways that help you decrease stress, reaching out to others, and seeking professional help if needed are important actions that you can take during these challenging times.
Stay connected.It’s has been difficult to stay apart from friends and family over the past two years. In recent weeks, people are beginning to return to work and socialize. If you feel sick and/or are unvaccinated, make sure you continue to practice social distancing and wear a mask when you visit others
If you are fully vaccinated and have received a booster, 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. Wearing masks indoors with the current Omicron BA.2 surge is advisable with people outside of your household in high-risk settings.
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:
- Stress and Coping Information
- Mental Health and Coping during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- National Alliance on Mental Health Resources (NAMI)
- Mental Health and COVID-19 Resources (Mental Health America)
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 and boosted 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 be flexible during your trip as restrictions and policies may change during your travel.
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 high quality mask, preferably a N95 or certified KN95 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 fully vaccinated, get booster shots when you are eligible, wear a mask on public transportation, indoors in high-risk areas of the country where the virus is rapidly 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 is high, 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,.
- 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 5 years 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 5 days. After that continue to wear a high-quality mask around others for 5 additional days. It is advisable to get tested before resuming interacting with other people.
- People who are fully vaccinated and boosted 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 at least 5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a high-quality mask indoors in public for 10 days following exposure. You should isolate for 5 days if your test result is positive and if you are asymptomatic. It’s advisable to get a viral test and have a negative result before interacting with other people.
- If you are sick with COVID-19, make sure to stay home until it is safe for you to be around others. If you had COVID-19 and had symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. To calculate your 5-day isolation period, day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed. You can leave isolation after 5 full days. Then wear a high quality mask for another 5 days. And it’s advisable to get a viral test with a negative result before interacting with other people.
- 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.
- Find the full guidance for quarantine and isolation here
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
- Coronavirus Rumor Control
- COVID-19 Fraud Alert
- Buyer Beware: How to Avoid Scams & Misinformation During COVID-19
- Fraudulent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Products
- Avoid Coronavirus Scams
- Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Confronting Health Misinformation
I'll remember, it’s not just about me, it’s about all of us.
The COVID-19 Omicron strain and its BA.2 variant have been rapidly spreading between people in communities across our country and world. The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, to get fully vaccinated and get booster shots when you are eligible.
You can protect yourself and others by following these 8 steps if you are unvaccinated:
- Get fully vaccinated and then get boosted when eligible!
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Stay 6 feet apart from other people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a high quality mask (preferably a N95 with a NIOSH stamp or a certified KN95) when around others in areas where the virus is surging, when on public transportation, where required or if you want extra protection for yourself or others.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces.
- Get tested if you have symptoms and on a regular basis if you are working or attending gatherings.
- Monitor your health every day.
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. Variants which have circulated in communities like the Omicron and its BA.2 strain exemplify how the virus has become increasingly contagious.
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 high quality mask when recommended or if you want extra protection, 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 High-Quality 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.
When to Wear a Mask: People who are up-to-date with their vaccinations 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 highly contagious Omicron variants and possibly spreading it to others, vaccinated and boosted people should wear a high-quality mask indoors in public in high risk communities where the virus is rapidly spreading Choose a N95 mask with a NIOSH stamp on it or a certified KN95 whenever possible. Unvaccinated individuals may 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 high-quality mask to protect yourself and others – particularly when the virus is surging in communities. See Action Step #3: “I’ll wear a high-quality mask if I’m unvaccinated when I am around others in certain settings” for full guidance on masks.
How to Wear a Mask: Wear a high-quality mask, preferably a N95 with a NIOSH stamp on it or a certified KN95, 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. To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high and in settings where you may be vulnerable.
Find a free N95 Respirator here.
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. Since immunity decreases 2 months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and 5 months after the mRNA vaccines, it is important to get booster shots when you are eligible. COVID-19 vaccinations 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. A second booster dose is now recommended and available at no cost for certain immunocompromised individuals and those over the age of 50 who received an initial booster shot at least 4 months ago. The COVID-19 vaccine, including booster doses ,is the best defense against severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus.
Text your zip code to 438829, visit vaccines.gov, 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 and boosted when you are eligible!