Prevent COVID-19

Prevent COVID-19

There are things we can all do to protect ourselves and the people around us from getting or spreading COVID-19.

Prevention STEPS

Stay home if you are sick

Why –  Staying home keeps illness from spreading to others. Rest also helps you get better.

How – Cancel your plans and stay home from work. Let your friends, family or neighbors know you are not feeling well. Ask if they are willing to drop off food, prescription or other things you need while you recover.

When – Do this any time you have symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses.

TIP Make a plan now for what to do if you or someone in your house gets sick.

Wash your hands

Why – Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer rinses off or kills any germs you may have on them. This lowers your risk of getting infected with a virus if you touch your face, nose or eyes. If you are sick (even if you don’t know yet), washing your hands lowers the risk of spreading your germs to others when touching shared surfaces, such as doorknobs.

How – Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

When – Any time, but it is especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Also wash your hands any times they are visibly dirty.

TIP Keep hand sanitizer in your car, bag or attach a travel-sized, clip-on sanitizer to your key chain so you always have it with you.

Keep your social circle small

Why – Vermont continues to see the spread of COVID-19. We must all do our part to slow the spread, ensure hospitals are not overwhelmed, help schools continue to offer in-person instruction, and keep as many Vermonters working as possible. As of November 14, 2020, you are not allowed to gather with people you don’t live with. Read the Governor's Executive Order. Read more about gatherings.

Close contact means being within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Limiting the number of people you are in close contact with lowers your risk of being exposed to and spreading COVID-19. 

How – At this time, your social circle should only include people you live with. People who live alone may gather with people who live in one other household. Have an open and honest conversation with people you live with about what you are doing to stay healthy day-to-day, such as wearing a mask, staying physically distant and avoiding crowds when out of the house. Share your reasons for why it's important to you.

When – Until we are able to get our COVID-19 cases back down and Governor Scott's Executive Order limiting gatherings to only household members can be lifted. When small gatherings are possible again, continue to keep your social circle small until COVID-19 is no longer a threat to public health.

NEW Exception – People who are fully vaccinated (it has been 14 days since the final vaccine dose) may gather, in homes, with other people who are vaccinated. Gatherings of vaccinated people may also include one household that is not vaccinated.

TIP While we work hard to contain the spread of COVID-19, stay socially connected with friends, family and loved ones by phone or video chat. 

Stay at least 6 feet apart

Why – COVID-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets of a person infected with the virus. These droplets can land about 6 feet (2 meters) away. Keeping a physical distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) lowers the risk of these droplets reaching you and others when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or talks. It is possible for a person who is infected with COVID-19 to not know they are infected and spread the virus. It can take as many as 14 days to have symptoms and some people never develop symptoms at all.

How –  Choose open areas where there is room to spread out. This is typically easier if there are fewer people and you are outdoors. Learn how to do this if you live in shared housing.

When – Any time you are with people you don’t live with or who are outside of your trusted and small social circle. Even when other people around you are wearing masks, it is important to keep a distance as much as possible.

TIP Add visual and physical clues to remind yourself to keep 6 feet (2 meters) apart. For example, arrange seating to be farther apart, or use a garden hose to divide your backyard (this works great for kids, too!).

Wear a mask

Why –  A mask helps contain your respiratory droplets and can keep them from reaching other people. COVID-19 can spread before a person has any symptoms. Wearing a mask helps protect you and the people around you from getting or spreading COVID-19. For more protection, you can wear two masks.

How –  Bring a mask with you when you leave home. The State of Vermont is offering a limited number of free cloth face masks to the public. Find out if free cloth face masks are available in your area.

Face Masks FAQs
How to Select, Clean and Wear Your Face Mask (CDC)
Improve How Your Mask Protects You (CDC)

When – In Vermont you are required to wear a face mask or covering in public spaces. This includes both indoor and outdoor public spaces and group living settings (for example, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, apartment and condo complexes) and other places where it is not possible to stay at least 6 feet away from people you don't live with.

Examples of when a face mask is required:

  • Any time you are around people you don't live with
  • Trips to any store, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital
  • At a gathering in the park with friends and family who do not live in your household
  • At any indoor or outdoor public event, such as a rally, protest, farmer’s market, or campaign event
  • Riding the bus, taxi, or ride share
  • Walking on a busy and crowded street
  • Before and after a yoga or exercise class

The CDC requires people to wear masks when using public transportation.

TIP Store your face masks with your keys, phone or wallet so it's easier to remember, keep an extra in your coat pocket, bag or car just in case.

Face Masks Frequently Asked Questions

Wear a Face Mask to Keep COVID-19 from Spreading
in Arabic Burmese | French Kirundi | Nepali Somali Spanish Swahili Vietnamese

Face Coverings for Children
in Arabic Burmese Chinese | French Karen Kirundi | Lingala Nepali Somali Spanish Swahili Vietnamese

Guidance on Mask Exemptions in Children and Adolescents