If You’re Worried About the New Coronavirus, How to Protect Yourself

How the Novel Coronavirus Spreads in Public Places and How to Protect Yourself

Experts say the canceling of events that draw large crowds is an important step in combating the further spread of the novel coronavirus.
The virus spreads like other viruses that cause common respiratory illnesses, such as the flu: via “droplets” that are excreted by coughing, sneezing, and breathing.
Anytime an individual is within close proximity to someone with an infection, there’s the potential to spread it through aerosolized droplets.
Transmission can also occur through contact with contaminated surfaces.
New research suggests that the virus can live on certain surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel, for up to 3 days.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the United States and the globe, the next fight to stop the disease it causes — COVID-19 — will occur at public gatherings from farmers markets to music festivals, and maybe even the 2020 Olympics.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemicTrusted Source, defined as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.”

In light of this designation — and as multiple nations around the world, including Europe, Asia, and Australia, try to contain the disease — governments, businesses, and organizations are attempting to limit contact by canceling large public gatherings to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

These efforts have included the closure of theme parks, such as Disneyland and Disney World; the suspension of seasons for professional sporting leagues, like the NBA and NHL; and the rescheduling or canceling of festivals like Coachella and tech conferences like E3.

Mass closures have only added to a growing sense of worry and panic over the disease, which has already caused a prominently reported shortage of supplies — including hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper — throughout the United States.

Why limiting crowds is about preparedness, not panic

“I do think this is a legitimate way to prevent the spread or try to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Robin Patel, Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist and president of the American Society for Microbiology.

“This virus is concerning. It is spreading in the United States, and really our best strategy to deal with it currently is to contain it,” she said.

Patel added: “Containment means where there are cases, we need to keep them from spreading so that other people don’t become infected… It’s at those events that people come together, and from the standpoint of transmission, not congregating in that manner does make sense.”