Stop the Spread

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
January 08, 2021

Note: Much of the following content comes from the Fairfax County Health Department’s Protect Yourself & Slow the Spread of COVID-19 webpage.

Protect Yourself and Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Your actions keep all of us healthy. We need to keep it up and continue working together to help slow the spread of COVID-19. There are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. Testing, contact tracing, and staying home and away from others when sick or after contact with someone who is sick, are also critical to help “box in” COVID-19 and prevent it from spreading further in our community.


You are safer at home. The more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. There is no way to ensure zero risk from COVID-19 when leaving home, but you can take steps so that if you head out, you can do so as safely as possible.


Person wearing mask with text that says "Wear cloth face coverings your actions can slow COVID-19". Keep it up to keep numbers down.

If you have to go out, wear a face covering to prevent the spread of this virus. Research shows that cloth face coverings can reduce the virus’ spread, especially when worn by everyone because they prevent you from spreading the virus to others if you are sick and don't realize it. What's not recommended:

  • Masks with one-way exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn. They allow the air you breathe out to go through the holes in the material, which can allow respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus.
  • Children under age 2, people who have trouble breathing, or those who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not use face cloth face coverings. 

See more tips for wearing a cloth face covering and learn more about cloth face coverings.


The virus is not likely to spread through coughs and sneezes if we stay 6 feet away from others. This is especially important because we don’t know if someone we come in contact with is sick. By maintaining this physical distance in all our interactions, we will reduce the risk of getting sick from respiratory droplets. 

Practice social distancing.  Your actions can slow the spread of COVID-19.SOCIAL DISTANCING TIPS

  • Do not hug, shake hands or high five. These actions can transmit a virus from person-to-person.
  • Maintain a distance of at least six feet from others when possible. (For example, do not sit close to co-workers and eat lunch while unmasked.)
  • Avoid mass gatherings and congregate settings. The CDC defines congregate settings as crowded public places where close contact with others may occur.
  • Those who are at risk for more severe COVID-19 illness, such as older adults and persons with compromised immunity, should limit contact with others and be rigorous about social distancing and other protective measures.
  • Use good protective behaviors: wash your hands frequently using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds; cover coughs and sneezes; stay away from others if you’re ill, and disinfect high-touch surfaces at home and work.

Wash your hands frequently.  Your actions can slow down COVID-19.WASH YOUR HANDS

Use soap and water. Lather for 20 seconds. Rinse and turn off the faucet using a towel. 

COVID-19 can spread from a contaminated surface onto our hands, and then into our eyes, nose or mouth where it causes the infection. Simply washing your hands correctly and frequently can lower your chance of getting sick and spreading germs to others. 

You should always wash your hands before you touch your nose, mouth and eyesfor example, when changing contact lenses.


If you have symptoms of COVID-19contact your healthcare provider or go to another location to get tested. You should also get tested if you were in close contact with someone who is sick. Close contact is being within 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

Getting a test will help you understand what actions you need to take to help protect those around you and slow the spread in our community. 

COVID-19 testing is available even if you don’t have insurance. And there are resources that can support you if you need to be temporarily out of work and away from others. 

Find out what you need to know about testing.

Stay home when sick or test positive.  Your actions can slow down the spread of COVID-19.STAY AWAY FROM OTHERS IF YOU ARE SICK OR IF YOU’VE BEEN NEAR SOMEONE WHO IS SICK

COVID-19 can spread easily between people, and it is important you stay away from others, including those you live with if you:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Are waiting for test results
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Were exposed to someone with COVID-19

You should stay away from others, even if you feel well because you might have COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms. See the guidance: When to Isolate and When to Quarantine. Your local health department can assist you with making sure that your basic needs are being met (for example, food and medication) while you are self-isolating.

Need information on what to do if you are caring for someone who is sick? See this information from the CDC.

Additional Actions If You Are Sick

  • Call your contacts and tell them you are sick. By sharing your information with others, you can slow the spread of illness. Parents/guardians should contact the school to let them know your child is sick and staff should contact your manager at your work location.
  • Monitor your symptoms. People with COVID-19 can have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe illness. Not everyone with COVID-19 illness will have all symptoms and fever may or may not be present. Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. You can download a Daily Symptom Monitoring Log to help keep track of your symptoms. 
  • Seek medical care if your illness worsens. If you have any type of medical emergency, call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Emergency signs of COVID-19 include trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that won’t go away, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
  • Manage your stress and anxiety. Being ill can be stressful or cause anxiety. Remember that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety or feel like you want to harm yourself or others:
    • Call 911.
    • Call VA C.O.P.E.S. (which stands for compassionate, optimistic, person-centered, empowering support). The Virginia COVID “warm” line has been set up to help people who are having trouble dealing with the changes in our lives due to COVID-19.  Callers can receive emotional support and referrals for mental and behavioral health and other services. Unlike 911, which is used only for emergencies, a warm line offers support and gives people the chance to talk about their struggles and mental health. Crisis Counselors are available during the following times to take calls. Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and on Saturday-Sunday from 5-9 p.m. VA C.O.P.E.S can be reached by phone or text at 877-349-6428.  Spanish speaking counselors are available. 
    • Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline or call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517).
    • Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224

Answer the call.  Your actions can slow the spread of COVID-19.ANSWER THE CALL FROM HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Make the choice to answer if the Health Department calls and help keep you, your family, and your community safe. 

Contact investigation is an important part of the approach to protecting the health of the Fairfax community and our schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can help by answering the call and following guidance. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, the health department will call you to talk to you about what this means, ask you to stay home and away from those you live with, and talk to you about who you’ve been in contact with. They may also call to let you know that you were in in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and ask you to self-quarantine for 14 days. In both cases, you’ll be asked to complete wellness checks and referred you to medical and other support services if needed. 

When the health department calls, they won’t ask you for money or financial information, your social security number, passwords, or other personal information unrelated to COVID-19. And unless you give permission, your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with — even if they ask.

Choose to be part of the solution and answer the call to help keep your friends and neighbors healthy. Learn more about contact investigations