COVID-19 Dos and Don’ts for Everyone

coronavirus
DO wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, several times a day. Use soap and water or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol:

  • Before cooking or eating
  • After using the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

DON’T touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you have somehow come into contact with the virus, touching your face can help it enter your body.

DO learn the symptoms, which are similar to flu:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Most cases do not start with a runny nose.

DON’T wear a mask unless you’re sick. Masks help protect others from catching the virus, but wearing one when you’re healthy won’t do much. Demand has been so high worldwide that shortages have begun. Leave the masks for people who really need them, like sick or health care professionals.

DO consider taking extra precautions and staying out of public places if you’re over 60 years old, or have a condition, as you have a higher risk of developing the disease. Note that as of now, the highest-risk groups appear to be seniors and people with preexisting conditions like heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

DON’T travel if you have a fever. If you get sick on the flight, tell the crew immediately. When you get home, contact a health professional.

DO reconsider travel to affected countries, especially if you have underlying conditions. For people in a higher-risk group -- seniors and people with preexisting conditions -- the agency suggests postponing nonessential travel. It also suggests everyone avoid cruises. Find the latest advisories here.

DON’T panic. At this point, public health officials still say the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is low. Taking proper precautions -- wash your hands! -- and making preparations are the best things you can do.

DO get ready to hunker down. The World Health Organization has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. If someone in your home gets sick, local authorities may want you to be quarantined for up to 14 days. Make sure you have enough shelf-stable food to last that long, as well as prescription medications for anyone in the family, other health supplies such as over-the-counter pain relievers, and disinfectants to clean household surfaces.A government web site also suggests keeping a 2-week supply of food and water in the case of a pandemic and having copies of electronic health records.

DO practice “social distancing”: Avoid large gatherings and crowds in poorly-ventilated spaces, and try to stay at three to six feet away from anyone who’s coughing or sneezing.

DON’T skip the flu shot. The symptoms of COVID-19 and flu overlap enough that it can complicate diagnosis. If you’ve had a flu shot, you’re less likely to catch the flu or have a case serious enough to require treatment.

DO prioritize your health. Now is not the time to burn the candle at both ends, skip workouts, or ignore a healthy diet—that can weaken your immune system.

DON’T avoid toys or products from Asia. Although the virus can live on surfaces for hours and possibly several days, it’s unlikely to survive the process of being moved from place to place in different temperatures and conditions.

DO check in on high-risk neighbors: older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions. Monitor their food and medical supplies, and make sure they have people or organizations who can help if they get sick.

Dos and Don’ts When You Don’t Feel Well

DO seek help early if you have a fever, cough, and a hard time breathing. But don’t just drop into the nearest urgent care clinic. Call your doctor to find out the protocol first, to make sure you won’t spread the disease to others.