Disease Prevention

We recommend that everyone follow these prevention practices:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear a face mask over your mouth and nose in indoor public settings (see noted exceptions)
  • 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, when soap and water are not readily available. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty
  • 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
  • Avoid in-person gatherings of more than 250 people.
  • Those 65 years of age and older are encouraged to self-quarantine

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

For more information read VDH’s prevention tips.


Yes, alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills the virus (known as SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19.  CDC recommends use of hand sanitizer that contains 60% or more alcohol.  It takes at least 30 seconds for hand sanitizer to kill the virus.  Pour hand sanitizer (about the size of a quarter) into one hand.  Rub hands together for a minimum of 30 seconds (longer is fine) so that the gel gets all over hands, in between fingers, on fingertips, under nails, etc.  Then, let hands dry on their own. Do not wipe away hand sanitizer gel.

FDA Warning: FDA continues to find issues with certain hand sanitizer products. FDA test results show certain hand sanitizers have concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, which are active ingredients in hand sanitizer products. The agency urges consumers not to use these subpotent products and has expanded its list to include subpotent hand sanitizers, in addition to hand sanitizers that are or may be contaminated with methanol or 1-propanol.

Is Your Hand Sanitizer on FDA’s List of Products You Should Not Use?

On April 3, 2020, CDC issued a recommendation that people wear a mask when going to places where social distancing can be difficult to maintain, like grocery stores, especially in areas of significant COVID-19 community spread. VDH concurs with CDC’s recommendation. Masks should be washed after each use. Masks should not be placed on children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

The mask can be purchased or made at home. A video about how to make one at home can be found here. Surgical or medical-grade face masks or N95 respirators should NOT be used in place of a cloth mask--these medical supplies are greatly needed and reserved for healthcare providers.

Considerations for Wearing Masks

Using Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Yes. CDC recommends that people practice routine cleaning of frequently used surfaces with household cleaners and EPA registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface. Please see CDC’s guidance on cleaning and disinfecting your home here.

There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. In general, because of poor survivability of other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with shipped goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with shipped goods.

Check out the VDH Prevention Tips web page for more information.

If you or someone you take care of are taking prescription drugs, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, and insurance provider about keeping an emergency supply of medications at home. Virginia Medicaid is allowing members to obtain a 90-day supply of many routine prescriptions.


 Page last reviewed:October 14, 2020