Take these steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based sanitizer.  This kills viruses on your hands.
  • Practice social distancing.  Because you can have and spread the virus without knowing it, you should stay home as much as possible.  If you do have to go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Cover your nose and mouth in public.  If you have COVID-19, you can spread it even if you don’t feel sick.  Wear a cloth face covering to protect others.  This isn’t a replacement for social distancing.  You still need to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and those around you.  Don’t use a face mask meant for health care workers.  And don’t put a face covering on anyone who is:
  • Under 2 years old
  • Having trouble breathing
  • Unconscious or can’t remove the mask on their own for other reasons
  • Don’t touch your face.  Coronaviruses can live on surfaces you touch for several hours.  If they get on your hands and you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, they can get into your body.
  • Clean and disinfect.  You can clean first with soap and water, but disinfect surfaces you touch often, like tables, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets, and sinks.  Use a mix of household bleach and water (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water) or a household cleaner that’s approved to treat SARS-CoV-2.  You can check the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website to see if yours made the list.  Wear gloves when you clean and throw them away when you’re done.
  • There’s no proof that herbal therapies and teas can prevent infection.

COVID-19 preparation tips

In addition to practicing the prevention tips listed above, you can:

  • Meet as a household or larger family to talk about who needs what.
  • If you have people at a higher risk, ask their doctor what to do.
  • Talk to your neighbors about emergency planning.  Join your neighborhood chat group or website to stay in touch.
  • Find community aid organizations that can help with health care, food delivery, and other supplies.
  • Make an emergency contact list. Include family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, doctors, teachers, employers, and the local health department.
  • Choose a room (or rooms) where you can keep someone who’s sick or who’s been exposed separate from the rest of you.
  • Talk to your child’s school about keeping up with assignments.
  • Set yourself up to work from home if your office is closed.
  • Reach out friends or family if you live alone.  Make plans for them to check on you by phone, email, or video chat.

 Can a face mask protect you from infection?

The CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face mask if you go out in public.  This is an added layer of protection for everyone, on top of social distancing efforts.  You can spread the virus when you talk or cough, even if you don’t know that you have it or if you aren’t showing signs of infection.

Surgical masks and N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers and first responders, the CDC says.

Is it safe to travel during a pandemic?

Crowded places can raise your chances of getting COVID-19. The CDC recommends against international or cruise ship travel during the pandemic.

A few questions may help you decide whether it’s safe to travel in the United States:

  • Is the coronavirus spreading where you’re going?
  • Will you have close contact with other people during the trip?
  • Are you at higher risk of severe illness if you catch the virus?
  • Do you live with someone who has a serious medical condition?
  • Will the place where you’ll be staying be cleaned?
  • Will you have access to food and other necessities?

If you choose to travel, stay away from sick people.  Wash your hands often, and try not to touch your face.  Wear a cloth face mask when you’ll be around other people. Some airlines require all customers to use them.

How can you help stop the spread of the coronavirus?

Some officials are easing restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen.  This doesn’t mean the virus is gone.  Continue to follow safety practices such as wearing a cloth face mask in public places.

Because the virus spreads from person to person, it’s important to limit your contact with other people as much as possible.  Some people work in “essential businesses” that are vital
to daily life, such as health care, law enforcement, and public utilities.  Everyone else should stay home as much as you can and wear a cloth face mask when you can’t.  You might hear officials use these terms when they talk about staying home:

  • Social distancing or physical distancing, keeping space between yourself and other people when you have to go out
  • Quarantine, keeping someone home and separated from other people if they might have been exposed to the virus
  • Isolation, keeping sick people away from healthy people, including using a separate “sick” bedroom and bathroom when possible

Coronavirus Vaccine

There’s no vaccine, but intense research to create one has been underway around the world since scientists shared the virus’ genetic makeup in January 2020.  Vaccine testing in humans started with record speed in March 2020.  More than 100 vaccine projects are in various phases of development.

If you’re interested in volunteering for a COVID-19 vaccine trial, here are some sources of more information:

Government-sponsored sites:

COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN).  This is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and coordinated by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Its goal is to enroll thousands of volunteers into COVID vaccine trials nationwide.  Many research centers are using this site to find volunteers.

Clinicaltrials.gov.  This is a government database of public and private clinical studies done worldwide.  The site also offers considerations for joining a clinical trial.

Sites that link volunteers with trials nationwide include:



World Without COVID

Individual hospitals, universities, research centers, and others may also provide opportunities to enroll in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial. Some include:

Alliance for Multispecialty Research

Kaiser Permanente

Medical University of South Carolina

Meridian Clinical Research

Penn Medicine

Saint Louis University

SAResearch (Clinical Trials of Texas)

University of California, Davis

University of California San Diego

University of Maryland

University of Rochester Medical Center

Vanderbilt University

Wake Research

You can also call or visit the website of your local hospital or research institution to find out if they are taking part in any trials.

Coronavirus Treatment

There’s no specific treatment for COVID-19.  People who get a mild case need care to ease their symptoms, like rest, fluids, and fever control.  Take over-the-counter medicine for a sore throat, body aches, and fever.  But don’t give aspirin to children or teens younger than 19.

You might have heard that you shouldn’t take ibuprofen to treat COVID-19 symptoms.  But the National Institutes of Health says people who have the virus can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen as usual.

Antibiotics won’t help because they treat bacteria, not viruses.  If you hear about people with COVID-19 getting antibiotics, it’s for an infection that came along with the disease.

People with severe symptoms need to be cared for in the hospital.

Many clinical trials are under way to explore treatments used for other conditions that could fight COVID-19 and to develop new ones.

Several studies are focused on an antiviral medication called remdesivir, which was created to fight Ebola.  An emergency FDA ruling lets doctors use it for people hospitalized with COVID-19 and in clinical trials. Researchers in the U.S. say remdesivir helped patients in one study recover from the disease 31% faster.

Clinical trials are also under way for tocilizumab, another medication used to treat autoimmune conditions.  And the FDA is also allowing clinical trials and hospital use of blood plasma from people who’ve had COVID-19 and recovered to help others build immunity.  You’ll hear this called convalescent plasma.

Per the FDA, regarding hydroxychloroquine and chloroquineJust Say No.   Studies have FAILED to show that the drugs worked against COVID-19, or that their benefits outweigh the risks.

Is there a cure for the new coronavirus?

There’s no cure yet, but researchers are working hard to find one. 

COVID-19 Outlook

Every case is different.  You may have mild flu-like symptoms for a few days after exposure, then get better.  But some cases can be severe or fatal. Symptoms can also linger for weeks, even if they’re mild. More than a third of people older than 18 who have signs of the virus aren’t totally recovered 2 or 3 weeks later, according to a CDC survey.   Fatigue and cough were the symptoms that were most likely to linger.

Some other people who’ve had COVID-19 develop a condition similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.  They may have a brain fog, severe fatigue, pain, trouble thinking, or dizziness.

What is the recovery rate for coronavirus?

Scientists and researchers are constantly tracking COVID-19 infections and recoveries.  But they don’t have information about the outcome of every infection.  Early estimates predict that the overall COVID-19 recovery rate will be between 97% and 99.75%.

Can you get the coronavirus twice?

Doctors aren’t sure if you can get reinfected after you’ve had it.  With other coronaviruses that only cause colds, you have a period that you’re immune, but that goes away over time.

Past Coronaviruses 

Are coronaviruses new?

Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s. Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child.  In the United States, regular coronaviruses are more common in the fall and winter, but anyone can come down with a coronavirus infection at any time.

The symptoms of most coronaviruses are similar to any other upper respiratory infection, including a runny nosecoughingsore throat, and sometimes a fever.  In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as a rhinovirus.  You treat this kind of coronavirus infection the same way you treat a cold.

Have there been other serious coronavirus outbreaks?

Coronaviruses have led to two serious outbreaks:

  • Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).  About 858 people have died from MERS, which first appeared in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe.  In April 2014, the first American was hospitalized for MERS in Indiana, and another case was reported in Florida.  Both had just returned from Saudi Arabia.  In May 2015, there was an outbreak of MERS in South Korea, which was the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In 2003, 774 people died from an outbreak.  As of 2015, there were no further reports of cases of SARS.