boy washing hands with soap
boy washing hands with soap
boy washing hands with soap

Staying Safe from COVID-19

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Updated on November 18, 2021

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets. This can happen when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, sings or talks when close to others. By closely following a few safety measures, you can help protect yourself and others from getting sick.

Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins, shares these guidelines: 

Get vaccinated for COVID-19 and get a booster as soon as you’re eligible

Several COVID-19 vaccines have been approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use among specific age groups and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Johns Hopkins Medicine views all authorized COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. 

Learn more about coronavirus vaccine safety and COVID-19 boosters.

Be aware of infection rates in your area

As more people get vaccinated, the rates of infection and hospitalization will vary in your area. For the foreseeable future, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the vaccination and COVID-19 data for your area and follow the local, state and federal safety guidelines.

Practice physical distancing

The coronavirus spreads mainly from person to person. If an infected person coughs or sneezes, their droplets can infect people nearby. People, including children, may be infected and have only mild symptoms, so physical distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart from others) is an important part of coronavirus protection.

Wear a mask

Wear a face mask in crowded, indoor situations since people carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus and unvaccinated or vulnerable people might be present. Johns Hopkins Medicine and other health care institutions require all visitors, patients and staff to wear masks in all of their hospitals, treatment centers and offices. Learn more information about how masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Practice hand hygiene

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, especially:
    • After being in public places and touching door handles, shopping carts, elevator buttons or handrails
    • After using the bathroom
    • Before preparing food or eating
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • If you cough or sneeze, do so in the bend of your elbow. If you use a tissue, throw it away immediately.

Take precautions if you are living with or caring for someone who is sick

  • Wear a mask if you are caring for someone who has respiratory symptoms.
  • Clean counters, door knobs, phones and tablets frequently, using disinfectant cleaners or wipes.

If you feel sick, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay home if you feel sick unless you are experiencing a medical emergency such as severe shortness of breath.
  • Take measures to keep others in your home safe, and follow precautions recommended by the CDC to avoid infecting others.
  • Call your doctor or urgent care facility and explain your symptoms over the phone.
  • If you leave your home to get medical care, wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Scientist carefully insets a pipette into a test tube.

What you need to know from Johns Hopkins Medicine.