The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). This occurs through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. This is similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). People can also be contagious before they show symptoms.
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to:
- Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Clean and disinfect surfaces – particularly those that people frequently touch
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover according to current state and local face covering guidance
- Remember to cover your cough or sneeze, then throw away used tissues and wash your hands
- Isolate yourself if you have symptoms or were in close contact with a person who has COVID-19.
It is important to clean and disinfect your home frequently:
- Clean and disinfect any surfaces you touch. Disinfect household surfaces every day. These surfaces include counters, toilets, TV remotes, phones, doorknobs, etc. To properly clean:
- Use EPA approved disinfectant: This chart lists all approved disinfectants that kill the COVID-19 virus.
If you do not have an EPA approved disinfectant, you can use a solution of 1/3 cup household bleach to one gallon of water. Leave the solution on the surface for five minutes to disinfect properly.
Carefully follow cleaning instructions: The amount of time a disinfectant should stay on a surface will depend on the product. The time can vary from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Read the instructions on the container to know how to properly kill the virus that causes COVID-19.
Clean dirty surfaces with detergent or soap and water before disinfecting them.
Use precautions when washing soft surfaces:
- Wear disposable gloves when handling potentially infected laundry. If disposable gloves are not available, disinfect the outside of reusable gloves before removing them.
- Do not shake laundry before putting in the washing machine to avoid dispersing any virus into the air.
- Use the warmest water setting possible (based on the manufacturer's care instructions). Thoroughly dry all clothing.
- Clean and disinfect clothing hampers the same way you would clean and disinfect other hard surfaces.
- It is OK to wash clothes/sheets from the isolation area with other clothes/sheets but keep isolation area laundry separate until you plan to do laundry.
Sources: Marin HHS, CDC, EPA