The American Red Cross is closely monitoring the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and following the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC, COVID-19 symptoms include fever, shortness of breath or a cough. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Call your doctor for medical advice if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms.
How Does COVID-19 Spread?
The best way to prevent illness from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus, as there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
According to the CDC, the virus is thought to be spread mainly from person-to-person. This means it may spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), or through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The CDC also reports that it may be possible for someone to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object with the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Use Healthy Practices to Protect Yourself
The best way to stay healthy is to follow these steps from the CDC:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, computers, phones, keyboards, sinks, toilets, faucets and countertops.
Wear a facemask if you are sick. You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
Follow these 3 easy steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sneeze or cough? Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use your elbow!
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Clean and disinfect surfaces around your home and work frequently.
Hand Washing: A Simple Solution That Really Works
Teach kids how to wash their hands
Proper and consistent hand washing is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of illness. Teach kids by example by showing them proper hand washing technique:
Wet hands with water and apply an amount of soap recommended by the manufacturer to hands.
Rub hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and giving added attention to fingernails and surfaces where jewelry is worn.
Rinse hands with water.
Dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.
Use towel to turn off the faucet.
For younger children who tend to rush their hand washing, have them sing a short song such as "Row Row Row Your Boat," or the "Happy Birthday" song – this will ensure they wash for at least 20 seconds. Placing hand-washing reminders at children's eye level will also help them become consistent hand washers.
Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Community practices such as social distancing, closures and canceling large gatherings can help slow the spread of this virus.
Here’s how you can help:
Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
Stay home if you can and avoid any non-essential travel.
Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from others if you must go out in public.
Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts. Use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options.
Avoid visiting nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities.
Precautions for Those at Higher Risk
According to the CDC, early information shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. This includes older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to avoid getting sick.
Stay home and avoid crowds as much as possible. Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
Talk with your doctor about any additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
Stock up on supplies:
Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time. If you cannot get extra medications, consider using a mail-order option.
Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
Download Helpful Tip Sheets for Steps to Help Protect Against Coronavirus (COVID-19)
For many of us, COVID-19 has disrupted our routines and made everyday activities, such as work and caring for loved ones, challenging. These changes, on top of the general uncertainty around this pandemic, can create feelings of stress, fear and nervousness. These feelings are normal, and people typically bounce back after difficult times.
The following information can help you cope with stress and support others during this emergency.
It’s normal for people to have these types of feelings right now:
Fear about running out of essential supplies.
Anxiety, particularly about being separated from loved ones.
Uncertainty about how long you will need to shelter at home.
Concerns for your physical safety and that of others.
Fear of getting sick.
Guilt about not being able to fulfill responsibilities, such as work, parenting or caring for dependents.
Boredom or isolation.
Thoughts of blame, worry or fear.
Worry about loss of income.
Fear of being stigmatized or labeled if you become sick.
Stay connected with loved ones through video calls, phone calls, texts or social media.
Remain informed with accurate, reliable information. Avoid social media accounts and news outlets that promote fear or rumors.
Monitor your physical health needs and those of your loved ones. Eat healthy foods, and drink plenty of water.
Unless you are showing signs of illness or have tested positive for COVID-19, going outside to exercise and walk pets is okay. But don’t forget to practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from others.
Hold an image in your mind of the best possible outcome. Make a list of your personal strengths and use these to help both yourself and others stay emotionally strong.
If you are religious or spiritual, follow practices at home that provide you with comfort and emotional strength.
Reach out to older adults or people with chronic health conditions and offer to help. For example, offer to pick up groceries, medications and other essential supplies. Check in with them regularly but practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away when you deliver essential items.
Talk to your children and explain why this is happening and how long it might last. Use language that is normal and consistent with how you usually communicate. Be creative and think of fun activities that will occupy their time. Keep a schedule, set appropriate limits and maintain usual rules when possible.
Take care of your pets, which can be an essential part of your support system. Like people, pets react to changes in their environment and routine, so their behaviors may change, as well. Keep track of their well-being and take care of their needs as best you can.
Show kindness to people who may not have a support system or are isolated. There may be limits to what you can do in reaching out, but a little kindness may be just what someone needs.
Download Sheltering at Home Tips to Share With Others
The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak.
Healthy individuals are needed to schedule an appointment now to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to help patients counting on lifesaving blood throughout this pandemic. Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood.
One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of coronavirus is to give now. But please postpone your donation for 28 days following travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea, or if you’ve been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
Help the Red Cross with a Financial Gift
Help the American Red Cross continue to deliver its lifesaving mission nationwide due to this public health emergency.
Donations will help to:
Ensure the American Red Cross maintains a sufficient supply of blood to help patients in need and prevent any shortages.
Ensure that, due to this Coronavirus outbreak, the American Red Cross is able to provide critical relief services to people affected by disasters big and small.