How to Keep your Family Safe and Healthy

What is social distancing?

Staying at least 6 feet away from others decreases the spread of disease. It decreases the chance you become infected with COVID-19 and the chance you spread COVID-19 to others if you are infected and do not know it. This is the reason that schools, restaurants, and playgrounds are closed.

Why are we social distancing?

We know that COVID-19 is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. By keeping people far apart, we decrease the number of people who get sick all at the same time (i.e. “flatten the curve”). This is especially important because we do not have a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 yet. Here is more information about social distancing and staying safe.

How do we practice social distancing?

Governor Cooper placed NC under a mandatory stay-at-home order until April 30, 2020. This means you should only leave your house to get groceries, take-out food, pick up medicine, or other essential items. You can also leave your house to get outside and be active. When you are outside your house, you should stay at least 6 feet away from others.

Can I visit my family and friends?

No. You should not travel to see friends or family members who do not live in your house. You should only see people who live in your house with you during this time. While it can be difficult to not see your family and friends in person, it is an important step to prevent you or your loved ones from getting sick with COVID-19. Here is a resource for coping with this change.

Can I play or be active outside?

Yes, it is okay to go outside to play or be active. In fact, we recommend it to help you stay healthy. But, it is important to stay safe when you are outside.

You should NOT:

  • Play on playground equipment (slides, swings, monkey bars, etc.) at parks because that’s how germs spread

  • Play basketball or soccer with friends or family who do not live in your house

  • Play tag or share toys (bikes/scooters, helmets, or chalk) with friends or family who do not live in your house


 You should:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after coming inside

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people while going on walks or playing in parks

You can:

  • Go on walks or play outside with people who live in your house

  • Play at parks if you do not touch the playground equipment (slides, swings, monkey bars, etc.).

Do I need to wear a mask when I go outside?

Sometimes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth when going to the grocery store, pharmacy, or other places where it can be hard to stay 6 feet away from other people. This recommendation is meant to help prevent disease spread when you may not know you are infected. You should still stay 6 feet away from others in public places, even while wearing a cloth mask.


Please do not use medical face masks (surgical masks or N-95 respirators) because people who work in hospitals need them. You can make your own mask from an old t-shirt and 2 rubber bands (click here or see below for instructions).


Children younger than 2 years old or anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear face masks.

How can I make my own mask?

You can make your own mask from a t-shirt and 2 rubber bands. See video instructions by clicking here or at the website below. Make sure to wash your mask in the laundry every time after you use it.

If I wear a mask, can I see friends and family who do not live with me?

No. You still should practice social distancing, even if you wear a mask. Wearing masks helps decrease the spread of COVID-19 when it is difficult to stay far away from others, but social distancing is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is important to only see people who live in your house with you to stop the spread of disease.

How can I stay safe at the grocery store?

Most grocery stores are limiting the number of people who can be in the store to help shoppers stay at least 6 feet away from each other. When waiting in line to enter the store, stay at least 6 feet away from the person in front of you. You should try to decrease the number of times you go to the store each week and plan to get all your groceries in as few trips as possible. Please follow all instructions given by grocery store employees.

When you are grocery shopping you and your family should also:

  • Stay as far away from other shoppers as possible

  • Wear a cloth mask as discussed above

  • Wear gloves (latex, if you already have some, or regular gloves) and throw them away or wash them when you get home.

  • Avoid touching your face when you are shopping

  • Avoid touching products that you will not buy

  • If you have hand sanitizer, wash your hands after loading your groceries into the car

  • Wash your hands immediately with soap and water after bringing your groceries inside

  • Wash your fruits and vegetables before cooking with or eating them

    • We have no evidence right now to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread through food, but this is a good practice

  • Remove items (as much as possible) from bags/boxes before bringing them inside. You should use grocery store bags and recycle them when you get home instead of re-usable bags to help reduce the spread of disease.

    • COVID-19 is known to live on packages for up to 5 days, but this is not the main way the virus spreads.

Here are some other general tips for how to stay healthy and prepared. Note: the CDC recommendations have changed and they now recommended everyone wear non-medical masks.

Is it safe to be with my pet?

Yes. Right now, we do not have any reason to think animals can be infected with COVID-19 or carry it on their fur.

When do you need to self-quarantine?

Self-quarantine means you stay at home, without leaving for any reason, for at least 14 days after being exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Most individuals only need to practice social distancing right now, and do not need to be quarantined.

What should we do if someone in my household tests positive for COVID-19?

The COVID-19 positive family member should quarantine themselves as much as possible. If there is an extra room and bathroom available in the house, that person should stay in the room and exclusively use that bathroom. Contact with others in the household should be limited as much as possible.


If it is not possible to quarantine in a separate room, we recommend that the COVID-19 positive person identifies a space they will stay. Other family members should stay as far away from this area as possible. The COVID-19 positive person should also:

  • Stay away from the kitchen area. Instead, a family member should prepare all food in a separate area and bring it to them.

  • Clean dishes with hot, soapy water immediately after the COVID-19 positive person finishes eating.

  • Wipe down all surfaces with an alcohol based cleaner (at least 70%) in shared bathrooms after use

Here is a tip sheet that provides more recommendations if someone in your household is sick.