The CDC Says Do These 7 Things Every Day to Avoid COVID

This is your step-by-step guide to staying safe from coronavirus, says the CDC.

COVID-19 has once again broken its own records this week, likely part of the post-holiday surge experts have been warning about for months. According to The New York Times, the national case rate has risen 40 percent over the past two weeks, with the death rate climbing 29 percent over that same period of time. In other words, this is no time to let up on your protective measures, which truly are the only line of defense between you and the virus until being vaccinated. For this reason, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made a simple, seven-point checklist of everyday preventive actions you can take to minimize your risk of transmission. Read on to find out what they are, and for more risk factors, checkout The CDC Just Confirmed This Disorder Could Put You at Risk of Severe COVID.

We know that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is spread through respiratory droplets that can be spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or even exhales. In some cases, the virus is also spread through contact transmission, meaning through a recently contaminated surface or through direct physical contact with the infected individual (think a handshake or kiss). Experts have also cautioned that the virus may linger in the air in the form of aerosolized particles in poorly ventilated spaces.

The key in any set of circumstances is to minimize contact with viral particles. Read on for the CDC's essential checklist of easy to remember, easy to follow measures that could quite literally save your life. And for more on stopping the spread, check out This Type of Face Mask Isn't Protecting You From COVID, WHO Warns.

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Wash your hands frequently.

Person washing hands with soap

Frequent hand washing is key for several reasons. First, it minimizes the chances of you touching viral particles and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with contaminated hands. Second, it makes you less likely to pass the virus on if you happen to be sick with an asymptomatic case.

The CDC recommends scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds, drying with a clean towel, and then applying sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Young man doing home eye exam in the bathroom

There will inevitably be times when you can't stop to wash your hands, which is why it's so important to break the habit of touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Not only will this lower your chances of catching COVID, it will also slash your chances of getting the flu, a cold, and any other number of illnesses this winter. And for more expert COVID advice, check out The FDA Just Issued a Warning About This COVID Measure.

Stay at least six feet apart from others.

Woman and child social distancing

The CDC says that staying six feet apart from others—roughly two arm lengths—will help curb the spread of the virus, even in asymptomatic cases.

Additionally, in the event that you do catch COVID from six feet away from an infected person, researchers say that you may benefit from a lower viral load than if you caught it from closer contact. As one study published in the medical journal BMJ explains, a patient's "initial exposure to a lower inoculum results in fewer and shorter symptoms as well as lower likelihood of viral shedding."

Stay home when you are sick.

Sick woman lying in bed

This one is obvious: if you're sick, don't risk passing your sickness onto others.

While most people would be quick to quarantine with COVID's most traditional symptoms such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath, experts warn that the same precautions should be taken in the face of a much broader range of symptoms. These include gastrointestinal issues, olfactory dysfunction, fatigue, malaise, and more. And for some of the earliest symptoms to look out for, check out This Strange Symptom May Be the Earliest Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.

Man with phlegm coughing into tissue at home

Limiting how far your own viral particles can travel is key to curbing our current surge. Keep tissues handy, throw them out in the trash when you're done, and be sure to wash those hands. And for more regular coronavirus updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Handsome Male Disinfecting Bed With Towel And Detergent

Keeping your home and personal belongings clean could stop you from catching or spreading the virus through contaminated surfaces. The CDC recommends washing surfaces with soap first to remove any dirt or grime that may trap germs underneath, then disinfecting with any product from their list of cleaning fluids that are effective in killing COVID.

Wear a mask when you go out in public.

Shutterstock/Drazen Zigic

Wearing a mask is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep yourself protected. Choose one that has multiple layers, breathable material, and a snug fit to keep dangerous particles away from your nose and mouth.

The CDC notes that children under two years old, those who have trouble breathing, and those who are "unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance" should not wear a mask. Everyone else should mask up in public. And for more on on proper mask protocol, check out The CDC Has Issued a Warning Against These 4 Face Coverings.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more