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Reduce the Spread of New Coronavirus: Wash Your Hands

Published on Mar. 14, 2020

The news about new coronavirus is unsettling, but there are things we can all do to prevent its spread. It may sound simple, but washing your hands is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones and prevent the spread of all viruses, including the new coronavirus and the widespread influenza virus (aka the flu).

Wash Your Hands in Five Steps

The CDC recommends these 5 steps every time you wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

According to the World Health Organization, the process of washing your hands, from start to finish, should take 40-60 seconds. This graphic from the World Health Organization makes it easy to remember!

If you aren’t able to wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol. Here is some more information from the CDC on what you need to know about hand washing, along with answers to some common questions:

Why is hand washing so important? The CDC provides the science behind hand washing recommendations.

Help Protect You and Others from All Viruses

Here are seven more things you can do today to help protect you and others from all viruses:

  1. Cough into a tissue when possible (throw it away immediately) or into your arm if necessary
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose
  3. Avoid contact with those who are ill
  4. Stay home from work if ill and keep sick kids home from school
  5. Avoid contact with other people's hands (handshakes, high fives, and fist bumps can all transfer viruses)
  6. Avoid crowds
  7. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

For more tips and information on being prepared for the new coronavirus, visit ready.gov.