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How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

Last Updated: 11/25/2020

Note: To learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones during the holiday season, refer to this article. New Jersey strongly discourages non-essential interstate travel given the increased spread of COVID-19 nationwide.

Our first responders and health care workers are saving lives every day -- so can you.

Your family, your friends, your neighbors -- their lives are literally in your hands.

Here's how you can do your part to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community:

  • Get Tested – Testing is now available to everyone in New Jersey. You could have COVID-19 and not even know it. Protect yourself and save the lives of your loved ones by getting tested – especially if you have symptoms, have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, are an essential worker, were recently in a large crowd where social distancing was hard to maintain, or recently travelled to an area or a state with high COVID-19 infection rates. Find a testing location near you at covid19.nj.gov/testing
  • Answer The Phone When A Contact Tracer Calls – You've been called because you either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has – so it's critical you answer the phone. Contact tracers are calling with life-saving information that will keep you, your loved ones, and your community safe and healthy. Learn how contact tracing saves lives at covid19.nj.gov/testandtrace
  • Wear a Mask - Always wear a mask over your nose and mouth in public spaces, and anywhere that you cannot keep 6 feet of distance from another person. Face coverings are required in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Keep a Social Distance - Keep six feet between yourself and others whenever possible and avoid crowded areas.
  • Add Your Phone to the COVID Fight. Download the COVID Alert NJ App - The app is New Jersey's free and secure mobile app that anonymously alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. COVID Alert NJ uses Bluetooth proximity technology, never records any identifying data, and all users will remain anonymous. Download the app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Know How COVID-19 Spreads

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Steps To Protect Yourself And Others

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • Face coverings are required in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Keep six feet between yourself and others whenever possible and avoid crowded areas.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. For more, see the CDC's guidelines on how to properly clean and disinfect.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Visit the CDC site to learn more about how to protect yourself.

Safety Tips For Gatherings

During this difficult time, we understand everyone wants to be with family and friends. But being cautious when you interact with others is particularly important as New Jersey is seeing increasing signs of community spread. To ensure we don't inadvertently spread COVID-19 and needlessly put our loved ones at risk, the NJ Department of Health has offered safety tips for in-person gatherings:

  • Indoor gatherings pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
  • Ask guests to wear face coverings when they cannot social distance.
  • Make hand sanitizer available for guests.
  • Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
  • Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. Limit numbers of attendees as much as possible.
  • When hosting activities, do so with people only from your local area as much as possible. Activities with attendees traveling from different locations increase the risk of infection and spread, especially if they are coming from or traveling to a location with higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread.
  • Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to the virus in the last 14 days, are showing COVID-19 symptoms, or recently travelled to an area or a state with high COVID-19 infection rates.
  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food—for example, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.
  • Consider keeping a list of guests who attended for potential future contract tracing needs. If you are called by a contact tracer, it's critical that you answer the call to protect us all. Your help is the key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.

Managing Your Risk

The NJ Department of Health breaks down the spread of COVID-19 into four factors:

  1. TIME: How long will you be in a place? More time sitting in one place means higher risk.
  2. SPACE: How much space will be around you? Less space means higher risk.
  3. PEOPLE: How many people will be around you? More people means higher risk.
  4. PLACE: What type of place are you going to? Indoor spaces mean higher risk.

Keeping these factors in mind can help you assess your risk while participating in activities.

To learn more refer to this guide created by the NJ Department of Health.

Source:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html;Executive Order No. 125;https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html;https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/COVID_Minimize_Risk.pdf; Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 7/29/20; Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 10/15/20