Reviewed by Pamela L. Zeitlin, MD, MPhil, PhD (August 31, 2020)
The 2019 coronavirus is primarily spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes or from touching objects that have been contaminated with the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest staying at least six feet away from anyone who appears to be sick. It takes about five days after being exposed to the coronavirus for symptoms to develop. The incubation period ranges from 1-14 days. The CDC updates this estimate as more data become available.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus can live up to three hours in the air, up to 24 hours on cardboard, up to 48 hours on steel, up to 72 hours on plastic and up to 96 hours on glass. Flu viruses only last for a few hours in the air at lower temperatures and for 24 hours on hard surfaces. Learn more.
Packages that have been moved or sent from areas where the virus is active have a low risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19. Those packages have been exposed to low temperatures and different conditions that do not help the virus live and thrive.
Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. If you think a surface may have been infected, disinfectant to kill the virus. Get tips for cleaning and disinfecting.
Teach your children the importance of washing hands before eating, touching the face and after using the restroom, being around pets and coming in from outdoors. Clean your hands with soap and water. Don’t touch your eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed hands. Here are some new hand-washing techniques to make it more fun.
It is very rare for animals to transmit coronaviruses to kids who then infect other children. There has been no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is spread by pets.
The information on our website is medically reviewed and accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, information may have since changed. CDC.gov and your state’s health department may offer additional guidance.