Community Questions and Concerns

Each member of the community plays an important role in preventing the community spread of COVID-19 by following these precautions:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty. Do not use any hand sanitizer that is methanol based.  More information about methanol based hand sanitizers can be found here.
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • If you are sick, stay home and rest, even if illness is mild.
  • Practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet from others if you have to go out.
  • Avoid in-person gatherings of 10 or more people. For parts of the state that have entered Phase II, gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted, but social distancing should be maintained. For parts of the state that have entered Phase III, gatherings of up to 250 people are permitted, but social distancing should be maintained.
  • Older adults and those with other risk factors are recommended to stay home if possible
  • Wear a mask when you are in public, particularly in locations where it’s difficult to practice social distancing (e.g., grocery store, pharmacy, etc.)

It is very important that people with even mild signs of illness (fever, cough, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell) stay home to prevent spreading illness to others!

Social distancing means remaining out of:

  • Public places where close contact with others may occur (such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums).
  • Workplaces (unless the person works in an office space that allows distancing from others).
  • Schools and other classroom settings.
  • Local public transportation (such as on a bus, subway, taxi, ride-share, plane, ship)
  • Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others when at all possible

Everyone in Virginia is encouraged to practice social distancing until the threat of COVID-19 subsides.  The most important thing to do to lower the risk of exposure is maintain social distancing.

It is very important that people with even mild signs of illness (fever, cough, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell) stay home to prevent spreading illness to others! 

“The curve” refers to a graph of the number of new cases of COVID-19 per day.  Flattening the curve means we want to push the number of new cases reported each day down as much as we can.  The current aim of the global response is to slow, or stop, the transmission of coronavirus. This way, fewer people become infected at the same time. If many people become infected with the virus at the same time, this could overwhelm the medical care system – this is what we are actively trying to avoid.

Current infection prevention and control measures such as social distancing, closing schools, bar seating, and restricting capacity at  fitness centers, restaurants, etc. are all ways to reduce places where people can congregate.  This is done to help reduce the number of new infections. By following these practices, we can all help slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed with patients.

If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, you should take the following steps:

  • Stay informed about local COVID-19 activity and be aware of school, work, and local closures.
  • Put distance between yourself and others.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email.
  • Take care of the emotional health of your household members and yourself.
  • Stay home if you are sick or if you are caring for a member of your household that is sick.
  • Follow your household plan of action.
  • Avoid taking public transportation such as buses, trains, taxis, or ride-shares, when possible.
  • Discourage children and teens from having playdates and similar in-person interactions with children from other households while school is dismissed.
  • Limit your contact with others and avoid public spaces, public activities, and group gatherings.
  • Wear a facemask when out in public, particularly in places where it’s difficult to social distance (e.g., a grocery store, pharmacy, etc.)

Please visit the following websites for more information about creating a household plan and managing stress and anxiety:

Household Plan

Managing Anxiety and Stress

This is when enough people are  immune to an infectious disease (because of a previous infection or vaccination) that the risk of infection in the population is lower.

This is unknown at this time.  Currently, there is no safe and effective vaccine available.  Also, it’s not clear if previous infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 leads to long-lasting immunity.

Please visit the VDH website to view the most accurate information about cases and the region of the state where they are located. Additional information is available at

Coronaviruses appear to spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence that you can get COVID-19 from food. Before preparing or eating food it is important always to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day, wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.  More information on food and COVID-19 can be found on CDC’s website.

See information in Business and Workplaces.

Page last reviewed: September 9, 2020