The best way to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, you may not need to follow all of the guidance below to stay safe. Learn more about the benefits of vaccination.
If you are not vaccinated, you can do your part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in NYC by taking a few steps every day. Remember, people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 need all of us to help keep them safe, even after they are vaccinated.
Stay home if sick or recently exposed to COVID-19
Only leave for a COVID-19 test, essential medical care or other essential errands.
Keep physical distance
If you are not vaccinated, stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
Keep your hands clean
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Wear a face covering
When you wear a face covering, you protect people around you in case you are infected but do not know it. A face covering can also help protect you from infection.
You can get better protection by wearing two masks (a cloth mask over a disposable mask), which improves the fit and adds layers. If you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, consider using a single higher-grade mask, such as a KN95.
All New Yorkers should get a COVID-19 virus (diagnostic) test, whether or not they have symptoms or are at increased risk. Tests are free. New Yorkers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine do not need to get tested, unless they are required to do so for work or school. Learn more about testing in NYC, including finding a free site near you.
If you are not vaccinated, traveling puts you and those around you at risk of getting sick and spreading the virus. If you must travel, plan ahead by reviewing our guidance and taking all recommended precautions. You are not required to quarantine after travel, but it is still recommended for most travelers. Some workers, such as health care workers, have stricter rules for returning to work following travel.
COVID-19: Prevent the Spread Palm Card (PDF)
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Severe illness means that the person with COVID-19 may require hospitalization, intensive care or a ventilator to help them breathe, or that they may even die. People at increased risk of severe illness need to be especially careful about monitoring their health.
Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s.
Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put people from some racial and ethnic groups (including Black, Latino and Indigenous groups) at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Studies have shown that people from some racial and ethnic groups are dying from COVID-19 at younger ages. People of color are often younger when they develop chronic medical conditions and may be more likely to have more than one condition.
Adults of any age with the following underlying health conditions can be more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19:
We are still learning about COVID-19, and there may be other health conditions that increase the risk of severe illness. If you have one of the above underlying health conditions or are 65 or older, consider staying home to protect yourself. Work from home if you can, avoid crowds and gatherings, and be sure to practice physical distancing and other precautions if you go out.
Children with underlying medical conditions are also at increased risk for severe illness compared to other children. There is currently limited evidence about which specific conditions can lead to increased risk for children. Current evidence suggests that children with the following conditions can be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: