COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus.
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
Possible symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Follow these five steps every time you wash your hands.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water, 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.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched work surfaces often, especially surfaces that may be touched by other people or may be near to others during the course of the workday. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, work benches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, tools and equipment.
To disinfect, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
- Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.
- For a bleach solution, dilute 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water (or 4 teaspoons per quart of water).
- Ensure alcohol solutions have at least 70% alcohol.
Cleaning removes germs and dirt from surfaces. You can use soap and water to clean surfaces. This doesn't always kill germs, but removing them lowers their numbers. It's suggested to clean surfaces before you disinfect them.
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces. Disinfectant chemicals are stronger than soap but do not necessarily clean visibly dirty surfaces or remove germs. Killing germs lowers the risk of infection. To properly disinfect, products need to remain on a surface for a specific amount of time -- usually 3 to 5 minutes.
Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines help the body develop protection from the virus.
Although vaccinated people sometimes get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, staying up to date on vaccines significantly lowers the risk of getting very sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19.
CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible get a booster and stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, especially people with weakened immune systems.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Employees who appear to have symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath should contact their supervisor and stay at home.
Employees who begin to develop symptoms or feel ill during the course of the work day should separate themselves from the work environment immediately and contact their supervisor.
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs may include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
- or any other symptom that is severe or concerning to you
If you become infected, or believe you might be infected, with COVID-19,
- Get tested and stay home until you have your results.
- Wear a face mask, if available, when you are around other people.
- Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
- Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wash your hands often.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces daily.