Stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic

Personal hygiene, cleaning, and health tips to prevent COVID-19, especially for older adults.

What to do

Seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk for serious COVID-19 complications. They should wear face coverings at all times, even at home, if someone they live with has COVID-19.

Limit the time you spend around people who don’t live with you

During this current surge, the safest choice is to stay home. The more you go out, the more you expose yourself and others to COVID-19.

Talk with the people you live with about how to stay healthy together. 

If you go out, practice physical distancing

If you leave your home, stay 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you.

You are required to wear something to cover your face when you are within 6 feet of someone who doesn’t live with you. This includes anytime you are outside, shopping, taking transit, or getting healthcare.

See guidance about going out during the pandemic.

Practice personal hygiene

Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

If you don’t have soap or water, you can use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

You can safely use expired hand sanitizer if it still:

  • Is a gel or foam consistency (not runny)
  • Dries quickly
  • Has 90% left in the container, if was originally full and unopened

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Wash or sanitize your hands afterwards.

We do not recommend wearing gloves. Gloves need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. Washing your hands is a better way to stay healthy.

If you leave your home to work, consider washing your clothes and changing your shoes after each shift.

Air out your home, especially if someone is visiting

Open windows and doors. You can also use an air purifier.

For more tips, see ventilation requirements for SF businesses.

Clean your home regularly

Every day, clean all surfaces that people touch a lot, such as:

  • Counters
  • Tabletops
  • Doorknobs
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Toilets
  • Phones
  • Keyboards
  • Tablets 

Immediately clean any surfaces that have bodily fluids on them, like blood or feces.

You can use household cleaning sprays or wipes. Follow the instructions on your cleaning products.

You can use disposable gloves when cleaning. Throw them away after you take them off. Wash your hands after you take off your gloves.

See other cleaning tips from the SF Department of Public Health and the CDC.

Know the symptoms of COVID-19

Get tested for COVID-19 if:

  • You have a fever over 100.4° Fahrenheit or 38.0° Celsius
  • You’re shivering a lot
  • You have a cough
  • It’s hard to breathe
  • You feel tired or sore
  • You can’t smell or taste anything
  • Your throat hurts
  • Your head hurts
  • You have a runny or stuffy nose
  • You have diarrhea, feel sick to your stomach, or throw up

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must follow isolation instructions.

Special cases


Plan your care with your healthcare provider. Many hospitals and birth centers are limiting visitors. 

See more guidance on pregnancy and COVID-19.

Practice safe sex

Avoid close contact, including kissing, with anyone who doesn’t already live with you. 

See other tips about sexual health and COVID-19.

About COVID-19

COVID-19 is a serious respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus. It is easily spread from person to person. See more information from the CDC about how COVID-19 spreads.

Last updated December 06, 2020