As the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) becomes more prevalent in the U.S., many people find themselves concerned, searching for answers. The Gallatin City-County Health Department is outlining recommendations on how you can protect yourself from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Wash your hands frequently

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water kills viruses that may be on your hands.

When? Wash your hands:

  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for somebody who is sick
  • After using the bathroom
  • After changing a diaper or toileting someone
  • After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
  • After touching animals, animal food, or animal waste
  • After touching or taking out the garbage

How? Wet your hands with water. Lather the soap onto your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. Scrub for 20 seconds. If you need a timer, try singing “Happy Birthday” twice in your head. Rinse the soap from your hands under water and dry them well with a clean towel.

What about hand sanitizer? Hand washing is always the best option for killing viruses. When hand washing is not possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.


Cover your coughs and sneezes

Why? When you cough or sneeze, you spray droplets from your nose or mouth, which may contain virus.

How? Do not cover your cough or sneeze with your hands. If you don’t have a tissue nearby, sneeze into your shirt or your elbow, facing away from others. Teach this to your children so they can prevent the spread of germs too.


Social distancing

Why? Viruses are often spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, spraying droplets from their nose or mouth. If you are too close, you may breathe in those droplets.

How? When possible, maintain six feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing. If you get sick, consult your healthcare provider and stay home from work or school. If you live with others, take reasonable measures to distance yourself from loved ones or roommates.


Maintain your health

Why? Healthy habits including proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and daily exercise, are your best defenses for preventing sickness.


  • Choose healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk, eggs, nuts, lean meats, and poultry.
  • CDC recommends children age 6-12 get 9-12 hours of sleep every night; children 13-18 get 8-10 hours; adults should get 6-8 hours.
  • Walking, running, swimming, biking, and playing sports are great ways to participate in physical activity.


Get your flu shot

Why? A flu vaccination won’t protect you against COVID-19, but may prevent influenza and unnecessary illness that could compromise your immune system.

How? It’s not too late to get your seasonal influenza shot at the health department.


Manage your stress

Why? Stress can suppress your immune system and increase your chance of becoming ill. Mental health is as important as physical health.

How? Healthy stress reduction techniques vary by individual, but may include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Therapy
  • Mental health awareness
  • Journaling
  • Participating in hobbies

Do you need help? Call the Bozeman Help Line, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Dial 211, or (406) 586-3333.


Intelligently consume social media

Why? Not all blogs, websites, and social media sites are equal when it comes to health information. Inaccurate information can lead to poor decision-making and increased worry and stress.

How? National and local health authorities will have the most up-to-date information. CDC, DPHHS, and your local health departments are the best places to seek updates and advice. Additionally, consider limiting time spent on social media apps. Newer devices have screen time limiting features. Also, there are free apps to help limit screen time.

Follow the advice of your healthcare provider

Why? Your healthcare provider should be following the COVID-19 situation closely and should be your best advisor on what you can be doing to protect yourself.

How? If you have a fever, cough, or difficult breathing, stay home. Seek medical care early and call your healthcare provider before you visit a clinic. This will help your provider direct you to the correct facility.

What about a mask? The public does not need to wear a mask. Save masks for people who are acutely ill and healthcare providers.

Information is changing frequently. You can stay up-to-date on the COVID-19 situation at the Healthy Gallatin website, DPHHS, or CDC.