Belvin Reed, RN, BSN,
Public Health Nurse Manager
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Phone: 732-493-9520 x 103
FAX: 732-493-9521
1540 West Park Avenue
Ocean Township, NJ

How Does COVID-19 Spread From Person-to-Person?

What are coronaviruses?

A coronavirus is a type of common virus that can infect your respiratory tract. They can spread much like cold viruses. Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child. They tend to circulate in the fall and winter

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person.
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). 
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It is possible that you can also become infected by touching something which has been contaminated by the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 

Can someone spread the virus without being sick? People are thought to be most contagious when they are the most symptomatic (the sickest). However, it is possible for the virus to spread from people who have minor or no symptoms. This is why it is now recommended to wear a face covering when out in public.

How do I safely interact with cashiers, store clerks and items on store shelves when I must purchase essentials?

If you are not sick and must leave your home to purchase essentials – like food, water, or medication – wear a face covering or mask and maintain social distancing whenever possible by staying at least six feet from others. If this is not possible, for instance when purchasing an item from a cashier, you should limit contact, make sure to have a face covering on that covers both your nose and your mouth, and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and face. Wear a cloth face covering when in a public setting. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer thoroughly as soon as possible after the interaction.

Is the virus on surfaces?

A recent study showed that the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses and may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the surface). If you think a surface, such as items you purchased at a store, may be contaminated, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Is Coronavirus spread through food? Is it safe to eat fruits, vegetables, frozen food, or takeout?

Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with ingesting food. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Researchers have found the COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. However, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient (temperature around you), refrigerated, or frozen temperatures. You can minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19 by following basic food preparation practices like washing produce and other foods well with water, cooking food thoroughly, and washing your hands with soap and water before and after food preparation and before eating.


CDC - How COVID-19 Spreads