How do I prevent and prepare for COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus (and avoid exposing other people). Here’s how:

 

Practice social distancing

If you are around other people, keep 6 feet between you when possible. Avoid hugs, handshakes, large gatherings and close quarters. 

Why? The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth, which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the coronavirus if the person coughing has the disease.

 

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 

Clean your hands especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. 

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills viruses that may be on your hands.

 

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. 

 

Cover coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.

Why? Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

 

Clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces

Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

If surfaces are dirty, first clean with detergent or soap and water, and then disinfect. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants, diluted household bleach solutions, and alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol will work. See how to make a bleach solution if disinfectants are not available.

 

See more information about preparing for COVID-19 and protecting yourself, your family and your home.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment can change daily. For the latest global situation report please visit WHOs website https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/The latest national situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page COVID-19. For current information concerning Florida visit the Florida Department of Health website.

The Florida Department of Health is working with private and public partners to actively be involved in enhanced surveillance for respiratory illness that may be COVID-19. Florida Department of Health Epidemiologists are partnering with providers to follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for COVID-19 to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases, if they occur.

The Florida Department of Health is communicating regularly with the public and health care providers with updates on COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. The COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Read about COVID-19 Symptoms.

This virus most likely originally emerged from an animal source and now appears to be spreading from person-to-person. Currently, COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. The Florida Department of Health and CDC recommend that people traveling to China avoid animals both live and dead, but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.

The best way to prevent illness from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus and use good hand hygiene. Common sense precautions that prevent the spread of flu will also help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Please do the following:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover cough and sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should only be worn by persons who are sick or persons caring for them.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and hard surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.

The length of time that the virus survives likely depends on factors. These factors could include the type of material or body fluid containing the virus and various environmental conditions such as temperature or humidity. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions are designing standardized experiments to measure how long COVID-19 can survive in situations that simulate natural environmental conditions.

Right now, there are no disinfectant products registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on environmental surfaces that are specifically listed as having the ability to kill COVID-19. However, related viruses that have similar physical and biochemical properties can be killed with bleach, ammonia or alcohol, or cleaning agents containing any of these disinfectants. Cleaning agents should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.

There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. In general, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

Current CDC travel guidance is available here: CDC Information for Travel

Current U.S. Travel Advisories are available here: U.S. Travel Advisories.

No. The state of Florida has issued an executive order, which will reduce density and crowds in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and beaches to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The following restrictions are listed under the executive order:

  • Bars and nightclubs throughout Florida are to be closed for the next 30 days (see more information from the Florida Department of Business & Professional Management)
  • Limit gatherings to no more than 10 persons
  • Restaurants are required to limit customer entry to 50 percent capacity. Seating must be staggered and limited to ensure seated parties are separated by a distance of at least six feet, in accordance with CDC guidelines