Nurses play an integral role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by educating the community. Here is information you can share with your patients and their family members to help them understand how to flatten the curve.
Simple Measures Can Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Get vaccinated and boostered if you are medically eligible
Wear a facemask in areas with a high Covid-19 Community Level, or if you or a close contact are at high risk for severe illness
Wash your hands
Stay home when you feel unwell, and get tested right away if you suspect Covid-19
If you test positive, contact a health professional to determine if you may be eligible for treatment
What to do if you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19
If you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19, or have been told by a healthcare provider or public health authority that you were exposed, here are the steps that you should take, regardless of your vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection:
• Wear a mask as soon as you find out you were exposed.
• Take Precautions - wear a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g., N95) any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public.
• Take extra precautions if you will be around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19
• Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, including travel and public transportation settings.
• Watch for symptoms - fever (100.4°F or greater), cough, shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms.
If you develop symptoms
• isolate immediately
• get tested
• stay home until you know the result
• If your test result is positive, follow the isolation recommendations.
Get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure, test even if you don’t develop symptoms
• If you test Negative continue taking precautions through day 10. Wear a high-quality mask when around others at home and indoors in public
• If you test Positive Isolate immediately
• CDC What to Do If You Were Exposed to COVID-19
• CDC Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19
What to do if you have COVID-19
If you have a patient with COVID-19 the CDC provides the following guidance to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading between people in homes and communities:
- Remember to treat early! If you test positive for COVID-19 and have one or more health conditions that increase your risk of becoming very sick, treatment may be available. Contact a health professional right away after a positive test to determine if you may be eligible, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Don’t delay, treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.
- Depending on where you live, there may be a COVID-19 Test-To-Treat location near you.
Stay home for at least 5 days
• Stay home for 5 days and isolate from others in your home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas and do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask
• Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
• Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
• Do not travel and avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis if possible.
Separate yourself from other people
As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a well-fitting mask.
Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.
Monitor your symptoms
• Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or other symptoms.
• Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
When to seek emergency medical attention
• Trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone. This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
• Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor
• Call ahead. Many medical visits for routine care are being postponed or done by phone or telemedicine.
• If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
If you are sick, wear a well-fitting mask
• You should wear a mask if you must be around other people or animals, including pets (even at home).
• Wear a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.
• You don’t need to wear the mask if you are alone. If you can’t put on a mask (because of trouble breathing, for example), cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This will help protect the people around you.
• Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 years, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is not able to remove the mask without help.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw away used tissues in a lined trash can.
• Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean your hands often
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
• Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
• Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Handwashing Tips
Avoid sharing personal household items
• Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
• Wash these items thoroughly after using them with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.
Clean surfaces in your home regularly
• Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (for example, doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, and countertops) in your “sick room” and bathroom. In shared spaces, you should clean and disinfect surfaces and items after each use by the person who is ill.
• Use household cleaners and disinfectants. Clean visible dirty surfaces with household cleaners containing soap or detergent. Then, use a household disinfectant from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19), and follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. You may also need to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, depending on the directions on the product label. Immediately after disinfecting, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. For complete guidance on cleaning and disinfecting your home, visit Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting.
Take steps to improve ventilation at home
• Improve ventilation (air flow) at home to help prevent from spreading COVID-19 to other people in your household.
• Clear out COVID-19 virus particles in the air by opening windows, using air filters, and turning on fans in your home.
• Use this interactive tool to learn how to improve air flow in your home.
Deciding when you can be around others after being sick with COVID-19 is different for different situations. Find out when you can safely end home isolation.
Download and print the full list of CDC guidelines to send home with your patients, and see the CDC If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone webpage.
See also: Your COVID-19 Toolkit – find information on masks, treatments, vaccines, and testing in your community
What to do if you are not sick with COVID-19, but need to see your medical provider
- Utilize your clinician’s telemedicine/ telehealth services if available.
- Call ahead on the day of your appointment for instructions prior to arrival.
- Wear a mask covering the nose and mouth. Experts recommend you upgrade your mask to a high filtration respirator if you want optimal protection.
- Do not touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice physical distancing while waiting or standing in common areas.
- Bring your own pen to utilize to complete paperwork.
- Wash your hands after leaving the office. Use hand sanitizer if there is not access to a sink. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds upon returning home.
What to do if you suspect you may have Long-COVID-19, or Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC)
Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), commonly referred to as Long COVID, is a condition marked by persistent COVID-19 symptoms (or the onset of new symptoms) following recovery from acute COVID-19. It may appear as new, continuing, or recurring respiratory, neurological, psychological, and cardiac problems occurring four or more weeks after an initial infection. PASC can affect anyone, even those who had asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 infection. If you suspect you have PASC, or Long-COVID:
- Contact your healthcare provider for an evaluation.
- Discover helpful tips from the CDC on Caring for People with Post-COVID Conditions.
- Find more information on the CDC webpage on Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions.
- Participate in research through NIH RECOVER: Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery.
- See the answers to other questions about Long-COVID in the ANA FAQs.
- Remember, the best way to prevent PASC, or Long-COVID is to avoid a COVID infection.
Information for the general public
- Get vaccinated, and get a booster. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, find a site here.
- STAY AT HOME if you are unwell or sick. Remember to test soon and treat early! If you test positive for COVID-19 and have one or more health conditions that increase your risk of becoming very sick, treatment may be available.
- Depending on where you live, there may be a COVID-19 Test-To-Treat location near you.
- Contact a health professional right away after a positive test to determine if you may be eligible, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Don’t delay, treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.
- When making decisions about prevention strategies and behaviors, you should consider the COVID-19 Community Level in the county where you live, work, or visit, and make decisions based on whether you, or a close contact are at high risk for severe disease.
- If you are wearing a mask, experts recommend you upgrade your mask to a high filtration respirator if you want optimal protection.
- Help prevent infection by not touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Frequently wash your hands. If away from home, use a hand sanitizer. Upon returning home, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Always wash your hands before eating and after using the restroom.
- Learn more about vaccination and the answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines here.
- See also: Your COVID-19 Toolkit – find information on masks, treatments, vaccines, and testing in your community.