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 spread in three main ways:

  • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.

  • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.

  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

Know the Risk

Avoid or limit your time where COVID-19 spreads more easily, especially if you aren't fully vaccinated:

  • 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 safer social interactions.


Protecting Yourself & Others

The best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Get vaccinated

  • Wear a mask in indoor public settings

  • Avoid crowds

  • Outdoors is safer than indoors

  • If you aren’t vaccinated, keep six feet apart from others and wear a mask when you go out

  • 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 with unvaccinated people

  • 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

  • Open doors & windows to increase airflow

With Family & Friends:

  • Limit time with unvaccinated people

  • Outdoors is safer than indoors

  • Do not serve buffet-style

  • Do not sing, chant, or shout

Traveling with Others:

  • Limit the number of passengers when possible

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

  • Wash or sanitize hands when you get to your destination