With the end of March 2022 here, we've officially hit the two-year mark of the CDC declaring COVID-19 a pandemic. And while we’ve come a long way since those initial months of uncertainty thanks to the efforts of public health protocols and COVID-19 vaccines, this January still reported record high numbers with variants including Omicron contributing to the surge.
Even though restrictions may continue to be in flux based on variants and cases, you can continue to take preventative measures into your own hands. Below, you’ll find some of the best habits to protect yourself and others and how to ease symptoms if you should test positive, while we continue to navigate the changing landscape of the pandemic.
COVID-19 prevention tips
Even if you aren’t feeling sick, these tips can help you, your loved ones, and your community stay safe:
- Get Vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing you from getting sick and are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death if you should get SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Wear a mask. It’s suggested that everyone ages 2 years and older should wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 Community Level is high, regardless of vaccination status.
- Test to prevent spread to others. By regularly testing for COVID-19, you can help be proactive in preventing the spread of the virus.
- Maintain social distancing. If you aren’t up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, it’s recommended to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
- Wash your hands often. Routinely wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose, and using the restroom and before eating or preparing food. If you can’t conveniently access soap or you’re all out of it, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. You should always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or by using the inside of your elbow. -Be sure to throw away the used tissues.
- Clean and disinfect. By cleaning high touch surfaces around the home, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks, you can cut down on the risk of exposure.
- Monitor your health daily. You know your body best. Stay on the lookout for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, and take your temperature if they show up.
- Follow recommendations for quarantine. If you should come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you’ll want to follow the CDC’s recommendations for quarantine to further prevent the spread.
- Take precautions when you travel. Be sure to wear a mask while traveling and stay up to date on testing requirements for domestic and international travel.
If you’re not feeling well and suspect you might have COVID-19, there are certain precautions you can take:
- Stay home except to get medical care. Luckily, most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home without further medical care. That said, you shouldn’t be leaving your home except for instances where medical care is needed. Avoid public areas and crowds, as well as public transportation, ride-sharing, and taxis.
- Get rest and stay hydrated. By drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, you can help alleviate symptoms.
- Get tested. You’ll want to get tested as soon as possible after your symptoms start. It’s never a bad idea to keep a few at-home tests on hand.
- Separate yourself from other people. Try to stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home, as much as possible.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor. If you are sick, wear a well-fitting mask. If you’re sick, it’s best to wear a facemask if you need to temporarily break your self-isolation to see a healthcare provider.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw away used tissues in a lined trash can. Follow by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid sharing personal household items. Don’t share personal items. Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding.
- Clean surfaces in your home regularly. Keep “high-touch” surfaces clean on a daily basis. Clean any “high-touch” surfaces in your home that may come in contact with bodily fluids, blood, or stool with household cleaning spray or wipes. These high-touch surfaces include doorknobs, light switches, kitchen and table counters, toilets, phones, laptops, and bedside tables. Be sure to immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have bodily fluids, blood, or stool on them.
How is COVID-19 treated?
It’s important to note that treatments used for COVID-19 should be prescribed by your healthcare provider, so you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider about options that could be the best fit for you. Some of the other recommendations your healthcare provider may suggest to relieve symptoms and support your body’s natural defenses include:
- Taking medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to bring down fever 
- Drinking water to stay hydrated. Remaining hydrated while sick helps your body fight the infection. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to drink 6–8 glasses (8oz/serving) of water a day. Foods with high water content—like some fruits, vegetables, and soups—also help keep you hydrated. Unsure if you’re getting enough fluids? If you’re well-hydrated, your urine should be a light color.
- Getting plenty of rest to help your body fight the virus
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Monitoring symptoms during a quarantine
Be sure to keep a close eye on your symptoms and contact your healthcare provider if you notice your symptoms are severe, do not improve, or get worse. You should seek medical attention right away if you experience any of the following:
Even if you no longer have any symptoms, you’ll want to follow the CDC’s recommendations for quarantine and isolation and discuss with your healthcare provider to determine when you can resume your normal activities.
1. CDC Museum COVID-19 Timeline. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed February 24, 2022.
2. Coronavirus Resource Center. John Hopkins University and Medicine. URL. February 24, 2022.
3. How to Protect Yourself & Others. CDC. URL. Accessed February 24, 2022.
4. What to Do If You Are Sick. CDC. URL. Accessed February 24, 2022.
5. Treatments Your Healthcare Provider Might Recommend if You Are Sick. CDC. URL. Accessed February 24, 2022.