Understanding how the COVID-19 virus is spread is important. It will help you to assess your risk and take steps to protect yourself in different situations.
The virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets and tiny particles that are released into the air from the mouth and nose of a person who has COVID-19. These droplets/particles are then breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, nose, or mouth. A person’s risk of getting infected goes up the closer they are to someone with COVID-19. This is especially true if the infected person is speaking, singing, coughing, shouting, sneezing, or breathing heavily. Their risk is also higher if they are in an enclosed space with poor air flow. This is because the tiny particles that have the virus can concentrate and spread in the air. They can even stay floating in the air for several hours after an infected person has left the room if there is poor air flow.
This is why masks are important. They lower the number of respiratory droplets people release into the air AND also the number that they breathe in.
It is also possible, but less common, for the virus to spread by touching a surface with droplets on it and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
There are certain places where COVID-19 spreads more easily
Knowing the level of spread in your area can help you decide what protective measures to take. Everyone needs to take extra precautions when the risk is high. When the risk is low, you can make decisions based on personal preference and comfort level. You should also consider your own level of risk and the level of risk to others in your household or workplace. Consider the following:
To learn about the current situation in LA County, see COVID-19 community risk level.
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from getting very sick from COVID-19, ending up in the hospital, or dying. It also lowers your risk of getting long-COVID-19. You need to get all recommended doses (including boosters) to get the best protection.
Some people are at higher risk of becoming severely ill and hospitalized if they get COVID-19. This includes people who are not vaccinated, older, or have certain medical conditions. If you are high-risk, you and the people you spend time with should be extra careful. Follow the steps listed above to reduce your risk and learn about medicines to prevent or treat infection.
Medicine to PREVENT COVID-19 infection
Talk to your doctor if you cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons or if your immune system is not strong enough to mount a response to the vaccine. If you are age 12 or over, you may be eligible for a medicine called Evusheld. Evusheld works to prevent you from getting COVID-19. See ph.lacounty.gov/covidmedicines for more information.
Medicine to TREAT COVID-19 infection
If you get COVID-19, there are medicines that you can take that will help keep you out of the hospital. These medicines must be started within the first few days to be effective.
Be prepared and have a plan for getting COVID-19 treatment:
TIP! Make a list of all the medicines you are taking, including over the counter medicines and supplements. The doctor will need to know what medicines you are taking before they can prescribe treatment.