COVID-19 spreads very easily from person to person
How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary. The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to spread more efficiently than influenza but not as efficiently as measles, which is among the most contagious viruses known to affect people.
COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact
- People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.
COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission
- Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space.
COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces
- Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
COVID-19 rarely spreads between people and animals
- It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. CDC is aware of a small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Learn what you should do if you have pets.
- At this time, the risk of COVID-19 spreading from animals to people is considered to be low. Learn about COVID-19 and pets and other animals.
Protect yourself and others
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can take steps to slow the spread.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others, whenever possible. This is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others. This helps reduce the risk of spread both by close contact and by airborne transmission.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid crowded indoor spaces and ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by bringing in outdoor air as much as possible. In general, being outdoors and in spaces with good ventilation reduces the risk of exposure to infectious respiratory droplets.
- Stay home and isolate from others when sick.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Pandemics can be stressful, especially when you are staying away from others. During this time, it’s important to maintain social connections and care for your mental health.
Learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and others.
Source: "How COVID-19 Spreads." Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Centers for Disease Control, 05 October 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html.