The virus is most likely to spread to people who are within about 6 feet of an infected person. The virus is in droplets that are sprayed when a person coughs or sneezes, and possibly when they talk. Staying 6 feet away helps protect you from that spray.
Scientists disagree on how long COVID-19 lives on surfaces, but it can live on surfaces that people frequently touch. The virus can then be spread if someone touches their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands that have virus on them.
Scientists now believe that people who have no symptoms can spread the virus. However, people who are experiencing symptoms like coughing or sore throat are probably more likely to transmit the virus to others.
There are no specific vaccines or treatments available for this coronavirus yet.
To prevent coronavirus, you should take the same precautions that you would during cold and flu season:
- Stay home at all times if you are sick. If you’re not feeling any better after 3 to 4 days, contact your health care provider.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Do not use your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
- Consider telecommuting, biking, or walking to work if possible.
- Consider staggering working hours. For example, instead of 9 AM to 5 PM, change some work hours to 10 AM to 6 PM or 8 AM to 4 PM.
- Touch your face with unwashed hands.
- Shake hands. Instead, wave.
- Go to the emergency room or other places to seek health care if you are not severely ill.
If you have family or friends who are elderly or have compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory or coronary issues, do not visit them if you feel sick. Stay home and keep your loved ones safe.
Governor Cuomo has issued an executive order requiring all people in New York to wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as on public transportation.
The City also strongly recommends that you wear a face covering indoors when you are around other people and you are not in your home, even if 6 feet of distance can be maintained.
- Wearing a face covering prevents you from unintentionally spreading COVID-19 to other people.
- Wearing a face covering does not make you invincible. It is mainly about protecting other people from possible spread.
- Do not use health care worker masks. The limited supply of these masks must be preserved for frontline health care workers.
- Continue to stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact with others.
- Maintain physical distance and stay six feet apart when you must go outside for work, essentials needs, or to get medical care.
To report a lack of social distancing or face coverings, visit the Social Distancing or Face Covering Complaint page.
Face Covering Care
You can use a dust mask, scarf, bandana, cloth mask, or anything that covers your nose and mouth as a face covering.
- Cloth face coverings should be washed once a day by hand or machine using detergent. Wear only when dry.
- Paper face coverings are reusable until they become damaged, dirty, or wet.
Cleaning and Disinfection Tips
- If a surface is dirty, first clean it using a detergent or soap and water before disinfecting.
- To disinfect a surface, use a diluted household bleach solution or an alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
- Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation.
- Check that the product is not past its expiration date. Unexpired household bleach is effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
- Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
COVID-19 Worker Symptoms Screening
New York State (NYS) requires employers to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms before the employee can enter the workplace each day and maintain documentation of health screenings.
To learn more, go to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Symptoms Screening page.