COVID-19 Prevention

Last updated May 18, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends some simple steps to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Wear a face covering in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain


clean your hands


Wash and sanitize your hands often.

cover your mouth


Cough and sneeze into your elbow.

stay home if you're sick


Stay home if you're sick.

How COVID-19 Spreads

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus spreads from person to person. Coronaviruses, including this new one, are thought to spread via exposure to an infected person’s respiratory droplets—such as those produced when a person coughs or sneezes.

According to the CDC, there is more to learn about how this virus is transmitted but, in the meantime, everyday habits such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, can help prevent the spread of viruses. 

GW's public health leaders hosted a discussion about COVID-19 in March: