The American Red Cross continues to closely monitor the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We understand this is a stressful time and people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves and their families. Below are some everyday steps that people in the U.S. can take now. In addition, stay informed about what’s happening in your community and always follow the directions of state and local authorities.
WEAR A CLOTH FACE COVER
The CDC now advises everyone to wear a cloth face cover when going out in public, such as going to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
- The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker.
- In addition, do NOT place cloth face coverings on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
- For more information, see CDC guidelines, including how to create your own cloth face cover.
HELP SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19
Follow these steps to help keep you and others safe:
- Stay home if you can and avoid any non-essential travel. Avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet — about two arm lengths — away from others if you must go out in public. Stay connected with loved ones through video and phone calls, texts and social media. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- 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.
- Clean and disinfect household surfaces daily and high-touch surfaces frequently throughout the day. High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Follow CDC guidance.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth, and throw used tissues in a lined trash can. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow — not your hands. Wash your hands immediately.
WHO IS AT A 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 of any age who:
- Have serious underlying medical conditions, such as heart, lung or liver disease; diabetes; moderate to severe asthma; severe obesity; and renal failure.
- Have a weakened immune system, including those undergoing cancer treatment.
People who are pregnant should also be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness; however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, it is critical for you to take actions to avoid getting sick.
- Stay home, avoid close contact with others and follow the other steps above.
- Call your health care provider if you have concerns or to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications in case you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time.
- Call a medical professional as soon as COVID-19 symptoms start, if you are at higher risk.
IF YOU ARE SICK
According to the CDC, COVID-19 symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and a cough. Keep track of your symptoms, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, and call to seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen, such as difficulty breathing.
Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you are sick:
- Stay home and call your doctor for medical advice if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions should call a health care provider as soon as symptoms start.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home. On your own, clean and disinfect all surfaces daily and high-touch surfaces frequently throughout the day in your sick room and designated bathroom. Have a healthy household member do the same for surfaces in other parts of the home.
- Wear a cloth face cover if you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a health care provider’s office. See CDC guidelines.
Emergency Warning Signs
If your symptoms become severe, call to get medical attention immediately. Warning signs include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
This list is not all inclusive. Consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning. Review CDC guidance for more information.
FINDING UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION
Visit redcross.org/coronavirus for more information on COVID-19 safety. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.
If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found from the World Health Organization and by following your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society’s social media channels (directory).
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.