Preparation and Prevention

Understand how COVID-19 is spread 

COVID-19 is likely to spread in the same way as other respiratory illnesses like influenza. It is thought to spread from an infected person who has symptoms to others by:
  • Droplets produced through coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as caring for an infected person
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

Know the symptoms of COVID-19

Most people will have a mild or moderate illness and will get better without complications. Symptoms in children tend to be milder, but our understanding of this illness is continuing to evolve. We do know that some individuals, mainly older adults and members of the senior community, will become severely ill and need to go to the hospital.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Teach your family the importance of taking steps to prevent infection

There is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19 at this time. Antibiotics only treat infections caused by bacteria so don’t work against the virus that causes COVID-19. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to take steps to avoid infection:

  • Wash your hands often and do it thoroughly. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol for at least 20 seconds.
  • Minimize close contact with others when possible.
  • Limit close contact with people who are sick. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick – for example, if you see someone coughing, move away.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Do not share objects such as utensils, cups, food, and drink.
  • Get a flu shot to protect against influenza.

Take extra care if you are at risk of serious illness from COVID-19

Some people are more likely to become seriously ill if they get COVID-19. This includes the elderly, people with HIV or cancer who may have weakened immune systems, and those with heart or lung disease. It is very important that these people take extra care to avoid close contact with other people who are sick and contact their healthcare provider immediately if they do become sick.

Know what to do if you become ill:

  • Stay at home or go home as soon as possible if you begin to feel unwell, even if you have mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose. Stay home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or symptoms of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
  • Wash your hands well and often, for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue, and then dispose of the tissue and clean your hands immediately. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
  • Try to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Do not care for others if possible while you are sick.
  • If you have pets, avoid contact including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food while you are sick.
  • If you must care for people or pets while you are sick, wash your hands before and after.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Do not share objects such as utensils, cups, food, and drink as well as personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and towels.
  • Get plenty of fluids.
  • Over-the-counter cold and flu medications can reduce fever and help you feel better. Remember to follow the instructions on the package instructions. Note that these medicines do not stop you from spreading germs.
    • Children should not be given medication that contains aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) because it can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome. Medicines without aspirin include acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®).
    • Children younger than age 2 should not be given any over-the-counter cold medications without first speaking with a doctor.
  • Seek medical care, if needed.

Watch for signs of serious symptoms such as worsening fever, rapid breathing, shortness of breath or dehydration (unable to keep fluids down).

What is Social Distancing? 

Social distancing is a practice recommended by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of contagious diseases. It requires the creation of physical space between individuals who may spread certain infectious diseases. The key is to minimize the number of gatherings as much as possible and to achieve space between individuals when events or activities cannot be modified, postponed, or canceled. Achieving space between individuals of approximately six feet is advisable. Additionally, there is a particular focus on creating space between individuals who have come together on a one-time or rare basis and who have very different travel patterns such as those coming from multiple countries, states or counties.

For more information, see the Gathering Guidance (PDF).

Should I wear a mask?

The California Department of Public Health, along with the CDC, does not recommend that healthy people wear masks at this time. However, masks are recommended to limit the spread of disease for people who are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.

What is the state doing to protect our health? 

California has been actively and extensively planning with our local public health and health care delivery systems.
Here are some of the actions California is taking to combat COVID-19: 

  • Directed Californians to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Made testing free for most Californians who are medically eligible for testing.
  • Ensured students continue to learn and get meals even when schools physically close.
  • Deployed the California National Guard to work at food banks.
  • Distributed millions of N95 masks and other protective gear to health care workers, with more to come soon.
  • Secured travel trailers and hotels to house people experiencing homelessness.


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