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Hygiene best practices

Everyone can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by:

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If water is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Personnel must be able to wash their hands after touching any surface/tool suspected of being contaminated, before and after eating or using the restroom, and before touching their face.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practicing physical distancing
  • Wearing a mask
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick
  • Staying home while sick and avoiding close contact with others
  • Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and immediately disposing of the used tissure

When to wash your hands

Key times to wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer if you don't have access to soap and water) include:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • Before and after removing gloves or other personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Before exiting a laboratory
  • After using the toilet
  • After contact with frequently touched surfaces (e.g., elevators, lobby areas, reception desks)
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

The CDC provides detailed information on when and how to wash your hands, and on hand hygiene in healthcare settings.

Receiving mail and packages

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that handling mail and/or packages is unlikely the primary means of spreading/contracting COVID-19, it is still important take the following precautions when handing mail or packages:

  • Limit in-person contact when accepting a delivery, or stay at least six feet away from the delivery person.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after touching a package.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.

Visit the CDC website for detailed recommendations on handling packages and mail.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing (also known as "social distancing") is the practice of maintaining at least six feet between yourself and others. It's one of the best tools for avoiding exposure to COVID-19 and slowing its spread. 

Find detailed information on the Physical Distancing page.