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COVID-19 Prevention

Learn the facts about COVID-19 and how to prevent it.

Face Coverings 

Masks are a simplebut criticaltactic in slowing the spread of the virus, so it’s crucial we wear masks to protect ourselves and others. Masks can protect you from being exposed to the virus. They can also prevent you from spreading the virus to others—this is particularly important if you're asymptomatic.

  • Cloth face coverings reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well.
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed frequently, ideally after each use. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2; anyone who has trouble breathing; or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  • Everyone must wear a face covering on any UC San Diego location. Learn more about the requirement on the Campus Safety page.

What is COVID-19 and what are the symptoms?

  • COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses, like the common cold and pneumonia.
  • Most people infected with the novel coronavirus have mild to moderate cold and flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath and recent loss of taste or smell. For a complete list of symptoms, visit the CDCs COVID-19 symptom page.
  • Some people, often those with other medical complications, may develop more severe respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia. Others could be asymptomatic, but they can still transmit the disease.
  • Most people with mild symptoms and no underlying health conditions can recover at home, as they would with a cold or flu. Others may need hospitalization for supportive care to help relieve symptoms and prevent potentially serious complications, such as respiratory failure.
  • The respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear an average of 5-6 days after exposure, but may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.
  • Based on what is currently known, the novel coronavirus spreads mainly via respiratory droplets that travel up to six feet in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be inhaled by people who are nearby or be moved to the eyes, nose or mouth by contaminated hands. Touching a doorknob, tabletop or other surface touched by an infected person, and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth can also transmit the virus.

Learn more on the UC San Diego Health Coronavirus Information website.

Is there anything I can do to protect myself?

It is understandable to feel uncertain or anxious during a public health crisis, and we need to remember to avoid making assumptions about others' perceived symptoms or any characteristics of identity. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent the novel coronavirus infection. There are, however, vaccines in development. Learn more about UC San Diego Health's vaccine trials to prevent COVID-19.

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Here are the current CDC recommendations to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Avoid crowded places and close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, like keyboards, phones, remote controls and door handles, and thoroughly wash glasses and utensils.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze — or use the crook of your arm — and throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Don’t travel to places with widespread or sustained community transmission of the coronavirus. Reliable travel information can be found on the CDC's travel advisory page.
  • Practice healthy habits: Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

What if I develop flu-like symptoms?

  • If you’re mildly ill, we encourage you to stay home and contact your health care provider by phone for guidance about managing your illness.
  • If you have severe symptoms, such as difficulty in breathing, seek care immediately.
  • If you’re an older patient with underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised, please contact your physician early in the course of even mild illness.
  • Students: Call Student Health Services at (858) 534-3300 for guidance and to determine if you need to be seen by a provider. You may also go to MyStudentChart and login with your Student AD to send a message to “Ask-a-Nurse.”
  • Faculty and staff: Seek medical care from your health provider. Be sure to call ahead so that the facility may plan ahead to minimize potential spread. Learn more on the Human Resources Guidance for Staff Employees and Supervisors website.

You can also find more information about the virus from these websites:


Learn about the coronavirus, how to remain healthy and tips for emotional wellness.

COVID-19 Prevention Downloadable Posters