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COVID-19: Breaking the Chain of Infection

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The COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us in Los Angeles, California, and the world.  Everyday life seems turned upside down.  There’s a lot of information out there, but it can be complex and confusing. This page outlines what you need to know. 
 
The good news is that if people work together, the pandemic will be shorter, more of us will stay healthy, and fewer people will die. We are still learning about the virus. As we get new information, the recommendations on what to do may change and this page will be updated. Don’t be frustrated if the recommendations change. They are made to keep all of us healthy.
 

What we need to do right now

Here is what health experts recommend right now in Los Angeles and California:
 
1. Stay at home unless you have to go to work or have to buy groceries or other essentials.  

2. Do not invite people to come to your house – even your parents or best friends. Only people who live in your house should be there.  Some people who have the virus do not show any symptoms but they can infect people around them. So act as if you and others may have the virus.

3. Do not visit other people, not even your elderly parents or adult children.  You can make them sick without knowing it just by going to visit.

4. If you leave home, use a mask. Masks are required in stores and whenever other people are around. They are strongly recommended anytime you leave home. Make homemade cloth masks to cover your face. You can use a bandana or old T-shirt to make one.
 
Any cloth mask that you use must be washed each time it is used. Don’t put on a dirty mask, if possible. Doctors and nurses are running out of medical masks (surgical masks and N95 masks) so do not try to purchase these masks. 
 
5. If you have to leave home, follow these steps:

  ● Wash your hands thoroughly (minimum 20 seconds with warm water and soap) and dry on a clean towel. 
 
  ● Put a clean cloth mask (homemade or store bought) or bandana on your face. 
 
   ○ Cover both your mouth and nose with the mask.
   ○ Keep the mask on your mouth and nose the whole time you are out of the house. 
   ○ After you put the mask on, don’t touch your mask or face.
   ○ Sneeze or cough, if you have to, into your elbow with your mask on.
 
  ● When you get home, leave the mask on and thoroughly wash your hands.
  ● Take the mask off and put it in the washer or a place where no one will touch it, until you can wash it. 
  ● Wash your hands again.
  ● Wearing a mask is important, but you can get sick even if you wear a mask. So stay at least six feet (2 meters) away from everyone when you go outside, including close friends and family. The only exceptions are for people living with you. 

6. Clean at home, clean places that are touched frequently (door handles, light switches, countertops).

7. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, and/or difficulty breathing, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea):

  ● Call 9-1-1, go to the emergency room, or call your doctor if you have difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, or keep throwing up fluids. 
  ● Call 2-1-1 if you need a doctor (they will help even if you don’t have insurance or are undocumented).
  ● If you want to be tested for COVID-19, go to: https://lacovidprod.service-now.com/rrs
  ● Older adults, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions should contact a doctor quickly if they get symptoms.
  ● Stay home and away from others while you are sick and for at least 3 days after full recovery and at least 7 days after your symptoms first appeared.
  ● Stay away from others in your household. If possible, stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. Don’t share personal items like dishes, towels, or bedding. After using these items, wash them immediately.
  ● Do not eat meals with anyone else. Eat by yourself in a separate room. 
  ● For COVID-19 questions call 2-1-1.
 
8. Stay away from any drugs or medications that are supposed to cure or prevent COVID-19. Antibiotics only kill bacteria and don’t affect coronaviruses or other viruses. There are currently no drugs for curing or preventing COVID-19. Talk to your doctor if you are not sure. Talk to a doctor if you are not sure.

9. Check in regularly with your neighbors and friends by phone. Mental health is also very important!
 

Why do all this?

COVID-19 spreads very quickly and there is currently no vaccine to prevent it. There are also no drugs for curing COVID-19. Doctors currently treat severe cases of COVID-19 by keeping people alive and treating symptoms while waiting for their bodies to heal themselves. They need special equipment for treating COVID-19 patients and also protective gear (such as masks) to prevent themselves from getting sick. If too many people need to be hospitalized, some hospitals may not have enough equipment or protective gear to give patients the best treatment or to protect the doctors and nurses from getting sick.  So we should all try to prevent ourselves and others from getting infected for everyone’s sake.
 
Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19. The nine recommendations described above help to break the chain of infection. In fact, if everyone followed all the recommendations completely, the pandemic would probably stop quickly. You can protect yourself and your family, friends, and community by staying at home, not visiting others, wearing a mask if you have to go out, staying at least 6 feet (2 meters) from people who don’t live in your household, washing your hands regularly, and cleaning surfaces.
 

Understanding COVID-19 and coronaviruses

Viruses are very tiny particles that cannot be seen by the human eye. They cause illnesses, including the flu. There are many types of viruses, and each type can have many versions. The coronavirus is a type of virus. COVID-19 is the disease caused by a specific version of the coronavirus which scientists call SARS-COV-2.
 
Viruses can float through the air, and survive in water or even on surfaces such as your skin. Some viruses survive for just minutes while others can survive for days. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can survive for up to at least 72 hours on some types of surfaces. This means the coronavirus can be passed easily from one person to another when someone sneezes or coughs, by shaking hands or touching surfaces contaminated with the virus.
 
When people have COVID19, they can sneeze or cough out tiny droplets containing the virus into the air. These droplets can stay in the air for a while. When you breathe in these droplets, you can become infected. The virus can also get onto someone’s hand. The hand can transfer the virus to a doorknob or other surface. When you touch that doorknob, the virus gets onto your hand. And if you touch your face, nose, eyes, or mouth with your hand, the virus can get into your body.
 
The virus moves very quickly and easily between people, but most people who get it fully recover. For many people, the symptoms are mild. However, some people become seriously ill and can die. By working together, we can slow and stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Symptoms of COVID-19/coronavirus and whether to get tested

Steps to take if you are sick

Click here to locate other kinds of help or call 2-1-1


Information and links on this website are based on scientific information produced by the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California and Los Angeles Departments of Public Health, and other public health organizations and researchers. This information has been prepared by 
UCLA faculty, graduate students, and staff. Support for this effort is provided by the Dean’s Office of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Last updated 5/1/2020.

To share corrections or suggestions, please email CovidQx@ph.ucla.edu.