COVID-19 Prevention

You can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Stores, restaurants, offices and other facilities are taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And you have a role to play too!

Staying home is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, but you can take simple steps to minimize your risk when you go out in public.

Avoid Close Contact

According to the latest research, social distancing (also called physical distancing) may be the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus.

  • Give yourself some breathing room – stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others.
  • Be patient. Avoid crowding together with others.
  • Watch where you are walking. Think about where you are going and try to keep a 6-foot breathing zone around yourself.
  • People can spread the virus before they know they are sick, so keep your distance whenever possible – even if you have no symptoms.

Wear a Face Covering or Mask in Public

COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected, so it’s important to wear a mask or face covering when in public – even if you have no symptoms.

  • Be polite. Show your community you care. Wear a mask or face covering in public.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.
  • Studies show multiple-layer face coverings and masks work best.
  • A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker.

Wash Your Hands for 20 Seconds

Don’t let germs hitch a ride on your hands. Proper handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of nasty germs – including the new coronavirus.

  • Lather up for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. It takes time for soap to destroy those germs and viruses.
  • Wash up after you’ve touched something that may be frequently touched by others – door handles, gas pumps, shopping carts, ATMs and touchscreens.
  • Never touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands first.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover your hands entirely and rub them together until they feel dry.

Stay Home or Go Home If You Feel Sick

Go home immediately if you have a fever, cough or other symptoms of COVID-19. Stay calm and keep away from others.

  • Be sure to wear a face covering and keep your distance from others on your way home.
  • Don’t touch anything, if possible.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze and dispose of tissues.
  • Avoid public transportation and crowded cars, if possible.

Be Polite – and Healthy – on the Elevator

The pandemic is creating a new sort of elevator etiquette. It’s hard to stay 6 feet away from others in an elevator. Take the stairs if you can or ride the elevator alone or with only a few others if you must.

  • Limit the number of people on elevator.
  • Be patient. Take your time. Wait for the next elevator, if crowded.
  • Use your little finger to press button or ask the person nearest the buttons.
  • Wear a face covering and stand facing the wall.
  • Wash your hands after touching elevator buttons.

Recommendations based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Businesses and Public Facilities

Remind your visitors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. NSF’s Protect Yourself - Protect Others poster series is available for free download.
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Parents and Teachers

Help children ages 3–8 learn the five steps of proper handwashing. NSF’s Scrub Club handwashing education poster series for kids is available for free download.
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