Summit County Emergency Blog

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Activated during disasters and emergencies to provide critical public information. Administered by the Summit County Office of Emergency Management.

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Mar 27

How can you get COVID-19?

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 2:10 PM by Sarah Wilkinson

How can you get COVID-19?

The COVID-19 virus is believed to be spread two ways. 
  1. Primary route of contacting COVID-19 is by person to person spread.
    • Between people who are less than 6 feet from each other. Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 
      man in mid sneeze
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
    • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
    • Studies have shown that the primary way you can potentially get sick is by having close contact with those who may be sick.  If they cough or sneeze nearby, and you inhale those particles, you could get sick. Studies are showing that it is rare to get sick from virus particles that have remained airborne for a couple hours after someone coughed or sneezed in that general area.  This is because the particles are relatively heavy and fall to the floor or surfaces or other surfaces.
    • Take for example choosing to go to the grocery store with a friend. Your friend is unfortunately showing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, coughing, shortness of breath. They should be choosing to stay home but still go to the grocery store anyway. In the grocery store your friend is talking to you only about 1 foot away from your face and sneezes near your face. The virus particles from your sick friend may have now just landed in your mouth or nose, which may make you sick.
    • A person is less likely to get sick from breathing in air from sharing a similar space where someone coughed or sneezed in the store previously. In other words, the chances of getting sick from someone who coughed in a store 2 hours earlier is low.  This is due to relatively large particle size and gravity of the droplets.  They quickly falling out of the air and land on surfaces. 
    • This is why staying home when you’re sick and social distancing (stay more than 6-feet apart) are so extremely important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

        2. Spread from contact with contaminated surface or objects.
    • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
    • This method of the virus spreading around is why hand washing, not touching your face, and cleaning/disinfection is so important.