COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreading rapidly around the United States and the globe. Because it is a new disease in humans, our immune systems have not yet developed any defenses against it.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Vaccines help protect us by providing immunity without having to get sick. Medical experts around the globe are actively researching potential vaccinations that may lessen or prevent illness from COVID-19.

The best way to avoid illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The virus is believed to spread primarily from person-to-person contact between people who are in close contact with each other (within about six feet). When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks respiratory droplets are released from the mouth and nose which may land in the mouth or nose of people nearby. Some studies indicate that individuals not showing symptoms may still spread COVID-19 to others.

Steps to protect yourself from possible infection include:

  • Stay home. The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Exposure to individuals who live outside of your household increases your risk of coming into contact with the virus.
  • Maintain social distance. Keep at least six feet from people who don’t live in your home when you must be out in the community.
  • Wear a mask. Cloth face coverings should be worn outside the home whenever there is a possibility of not being able to maintain a six-foot distance between individuals not living in your household. Even when wearing a mask, maintain social distance of at least six feet from others.
  • Wash your hands often. Scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are unable to wash your hands, using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth—as it allows the germs on your hands to reach moist, porous surface tissue where the germs can enter your body and cause infection.
    • Cough in your elbow and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze. Then immediately dispose of the tissue and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, faucets and phones, often and with an approved disinfectant. Stay home if you feel unwell and call your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms that could be COVID-19.

Our Lung HelpLine is answering questions about COVID-19. Contact our Lung HelpLine by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA or submitting a question online.

Page last updated: July 27, 2020

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