Skip to:

COVID-19: Breaking the Chain of Infection

Click here to view this information: en Español한국어로Tiếng Việt中文(简体)中文(繁體)Հայերեն

We are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s a lot of information out there, but it can be complex and confusing. Here is the key information you need to know. You can also browse:

Tired of staying at home, physical distancing, and masks?

So are we! But….the virus is still as dangerous as before. Your risk of getting the coronavirus remains high, unless you take steps to safeguard yourself and others.

So why are businesses opening up and some people returning to their workplace or school?

Closing businesses and staying at home for a long time is tough financially and socially. Staying at home can mean getting paid less or not at all. Businesses might have to shut down for good. People want to see family and friends. We need to balance keeping people safe from COVID-19 and making sure they can support themselves and their families. Even with things opening up, we still need to do what we can to avoid getting COVID-19 and avoid giving it to others.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus and COVID-19?

To keep yourself and others safe, the two most important things to know are:

  • The air around someone with COVID-19 can be full of the coronavirus. If you breathe this air, you can get sick. If you touch surfaces the sick person has touched or breathed on and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes, you can also get sick.
  • Even people who feel completely healthy can have COVID-19 and not know it. This means you can get COVID-19 from someone who seems perfectly healthy and has no symptoms. And you can give the virus to someone else even if you feel fine.

So what can I do to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus?

 To reduce the risk of getting sick or making others sick:

  • Wear a mask that covers both the nose and mouth anytime you leave home

    Health experts in the US and globally now recommend that everyone wear a cloth mask covering both your nose and mouth when not at home. If you have COVID-19 (even if you don’t know it), a mask prevents you from infecting others. It may also reduce the amount of viruses you inhale.

    To work properly, masks have to cover both your nose and mouth.

    It’s easy to make and use a cloth mask that you can wash and reuse.

    How to make and wear a cloth mask

    You can also use a single-use paper mask that you buy, but it can only be used safely one time. (Throw it in the trash after use.)

  • Physical distancing – stay at least six feet (2 meters) from other people (except people you live with)

    Physical distancing reduces the chances that you will breathe in the coronavirus or that you will give the virus to other people. Since people can have the virus even when they seem perfectly healthy, stay at least six feet (2 meters) away from everyone who does not live with you. Unfortunately, no hugs or shaking hands either.

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly

    You can get coronavirus on your hands without knowing it. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, reduces the chances that you will get COVID-19 or give it to someone else.

    How to wash your hands
  • Avoid crowded places

    Coronavirus spreads more easily in crowded places. It is harder to stay six feet (two meters) away from everyone else. Being around more people increases the risk that at least one of them has COVID-19 (even though they may not know it). Crowded places are safer if everyone wears a mask covering their mouth and nose, but physical distancing is still important.

    If you have to go to a crowded place, wear a mask, try to make sure others are wearing masks, and try to stay six feet (2 meters) away from everyone else.

    If you live with a large family or many other people, here is some advice on staying safe at home:

    Advice for extended families or large households
  • Outdoors is safer than indoors for seeing people you don’t live with

    Coronavirus passes from one person to another primarily by air. Outdoor environments are safer because there is more fresh air and the risk of breathing in other people’s viruses is lower. Even outdoors it is still essential to wear a mask and physical distance.
  • Stay home as much as possible

    The easiest way to physical distance and to avoid contact with people who have COVID-19 is to stay at home as much as possible. Work at home and shop from home if you can.

What if I think I have COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a new loss of taste or smell.

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms:

    If you feel seriously ill (difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, or you keep throwing up fluids), call your doctor, dial 9-1-1, or go to the hospital emergency department.

    If you don’t have a doctor and need one, call 2-1-1 for help. They can help even if you don’t have insurance or are undocumented.

What if I am sick and need to self-isolate or quarantine?

Here are instructions for what to do if you need to self-isolate or quarantine.

How to self-isolate or quarantine

I need more information or other kinds of help.

Click on these links:

Help and Advice for Immigrants on COVID-19, financial help, etc.

Latest medical news on coronavirus epidemic (English only)

Information from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health in English

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus and COVID-19 in English

Information on employment, financial help, government benefits, domestic violence, and many other issues in many languages

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 called 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. When people have COVID19, they can sneeze, cough, or breathe out tiny droplets containing the corona 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.

You can have COVID-19 and not know it. Wearing a mask prevents you from sneezing, coughing, or breathing the droplets containing the virus into the air. Social distancing keeps people from breathing the same air as others who may have COVID-19. Washing hands prevents transmission through touching surfaces. The virus moves very quickly and easily between people. Although most people who get COVID-19 will recover, more than 100,000 people have died from it. So it’s important to be safe.

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 6/15/2020. 

To share corrections or suggestions, please email