COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Top 10 Tips From Your Family Doctor

Last Updated February 2021 | This article was created by editorial staff and reviewed by Deepak S. Patel, MD, FAAFP, FACSM

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It’s the most effective way to protect yourself. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. If you aren’t feeling well, stay home. This includes visiting the doctor’s office. Don’t show up unannounced at your family doctor’s office. Call first to ask if you should come in.
  4. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue and throw it in the trash. Then, immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  6. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  7. Follow public health advice on school closures, avoiding crowds, and other so physical distancing measures to limit spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  8. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that everyone wear a mask in public, even if you don’t feel sick. This prevents you from spreading the virus. The masks should cover your mouth and nose. Even with the mask, continue to keep 6 feet between you and others. For additional guidance, see the CDC.
  9. Stay informed on the latest developments with the COVID-19 Situation Summary from the CDC. It will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. Also, use the CDC’s checklist to prepare and protect your family and home.
  10. Get your flu shot, if you haven’t already. Flu season is active in the fall and winter.

A vaccine for COVID-19 has been authorized for emergency use in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the vaccine, and the CDC has recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older.

In clinical trials, the vaccine proved to be about 95% effective in preventing people from getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech tested its vaccine on about 44,000 people and reported the vaccine effective in preventing COVID-19 illness consistently “across age, gender, race, and ethnicity demographics.”

Eventually, a vaccine will be available for everyone. For now, the supply is limited. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its independent advisory committee, has recommended the order in which people should receive the vaccination. Among the first: health care workers and residents of long-term-care facilities. It will be up to individual states to decide the order in which they will administer the vaccine. They likely will follow the CDC recommendations. Find out more about the vaccine.


Family Physicians write a “Prescription for America” to just stay home.