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  • "Close contact" means you were within 6 feet away from a person infected with COVID for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

  • "Exposure" means you were around someone who is infected but for less time or at a farther distance than close contact.

If there’s a lot of COVID in your area, these are the places you're most likely to get exposed. Places that fit in more than one of these categories are the riskiest. You can reduce your risk by avoiding these places or by spending less time there.

  • Indoor locations.

  • Crowded places.

  • Places where you sit or stand close to other people, especially if you’re unmasked.

  • Places without a lot of fresh air, like small restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

  • Places where people breathe hard, yell, or sing, like gyms or nightclubs.

These two actions will do a lot to help protect you:

  • You and the person who has COVID can wear high-qualitywell-fitting masks as much as possible when you're indoors together.

  • Keep the air in your home as fresh and clean as you can.

The more the air in your home is like clean outdoor air after a rainstorm, the better. Here's how you can make that happen.

  • Open as many windows as is possible and safe. If you can open windows on opposite sides of your home to create a cross-breeze, that's best.

  • Put a box fan in a window, facing out. Seal the window around the fan. That helps pull germy air out of the home.

  • If you have an exhaust fan in the bathroom or kitchen, turn it on. Make sure the windows are open if you run the fan for more than 10 minutes, so you don't pull toxic gases from the heating system into your home.

  • Viruses like dry air, so keep the air in your home more humid if you can.

  • Run an air cleaner with a HEPA filter and keep it right near the person who is sick. You can make an inexpensive air cleaner called a Corsi-Rosenthal box using these instructions.

The closer you are to someone with COVID, the more likely it is that you’ll breathe in enough virus to get infected. Six feet of distance isn't magic. COVID travels through the air in tiny droplets that can sometimes float much farther than 6 feet. They can also stay in the air for a long time.

If you're outdoors, droplets that carry COVID get mixed into a huge amount of air. If you stay far away from other people, the air you breathe probably won't have much COVID in it. That means you're less likely to get infected.

If you're indoors, droplets that carry COVID get mixed into the air in the room. That's a lot less air. The longer you’re in a room with someone who has COVID, the more likely you are to breathe in enough virus to get infected, too.

Any social gathering is safer when:

  • There isn’t a lot of COVID present in your area.

  • Everyone at the gathering is up to date on their COVID vaccines.

You can make any social gathering safer by:

  • Holding it outdoors.

  • Making sure any indoor gathering spaces have plenty of fresh air.

  • Using good quality air purifiers indoors.

  • Wearing masks.

  • Having everyone test just before coming to the gathering.