How COVID-19 Spreads

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people. In general, the more closely a person interacts with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk. People can spread the virus without even knowing that they are sick.


COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), even by people who are not showing symptoms

  • Mainly spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, shouts, chants or sings

  • May also spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes

Know the Risk

Avoid or limit your time where COVID-19 spreads more easily:

  • Crowded places with many people nearby

  • Close-contact settings, especially with close-range conversations

  • Confined spaces with poor airflow

The risk increases the longer you spend in any of these settings and in places where these factors overlap. Click to learn more about risk levels and safer social interactions.


Protecting Yourself & Others

The best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Keep six feet apart from others

  • Wear a face covering when you go out. Learn how to make a face covering.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care

More Tips to Slow the Spread

At Home:

  • Limit activities away from home

  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces often

  • Do not share personal items (food, dishes, cups, towels and bedding)

  • Open doors and windows to increase airflow

  • Move beds at least six feet apart

At Work:

  • Stagger shifts and break times

  • Work and take breaks outside when possible

  • Keep six feet apart in work and break areas

  • Do not share workspaces, tools or equipment

  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces often

  • Open doors & windows to increase airflow

With Family & Friends:

  • Wave hello instead of hugging or kissing

  • Meet outside and limit group size

  • Do not serve buffet-style

  • Do not share items (food, dishes, cups, utensils, playing cards, etc.)

  • Do not sing, chant, or shout

  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces often

Traveling with Others:

  • Limit the number of passengers when possible

  • Avoid touching surfaces

  • Improve airflow - open windows or set the air ventilation to non-recirculation mode

  • Wash or sanitize hands when you get to your destination

face covering icon

Wear a face covering

Distance icon

Keep at least 6 feet apart from others

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Avoid crowds

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Wash your hands often