General Public Guidance

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General Public Guidance

HCPH has compiled resources intended to help the public in better understanding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), ways to stay healthy, suggestions for supporting their communities, and more. Select documents may be available in multiple languages.  

Resources are organized based on topic. Click on the options below to jump to each section or scroll down to view more.




Holiday Celebrations During COVID-19

Upcoming holidays will look different this year as we continue to practice social distancing measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). For information on low-risk activities and the best ways to celebrate, visit the Holiday Celebrations page.







About The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. To learn more about this virus, refer to the documents below or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Download COVID-19 Information Documents and Guidance:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Viruses Don’t Discriminate and Neither Should We (PDF)
How Long Does COVID-19 Last On Surfaces?
Basic COVID-19 and Testing Information



COVID Reopening Benchmarks

On June 11th, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo released public health recommendations to better understand how to safely reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Leading Harris County: Benchmarks for a Healthy Community guide outlines this process. 

To see the newest benchmarks, please click here or go directly to Ready Harris.

COVID Reopening Benchmarks (Updated 8/11/20)



General Guidance

Select resources are available for general guidelines, recommendations for everyday activities, and more. This section includes all General Public Guidance materials. For specific topics, it is encouraged to view individual sections below.

If the information you are searching for is not shown here, refer to the remaining sections of this General Public Guidance resource as well as Reopening Guidelines and Documents resources.

Dating During COVID-19
How to Make a Social Bubble
The Power Of Social Distancing
Keeping Safe In Multigenerational Homes
What Happens After Being Tested For COVID-19? Surge Sites
Safely Protesting During COVID-19
Guidance for Maternal Health
Proper Use of Masks, Risk Factors
COVID-19 Activity in Parks and Recreation
Guidance for Removing Gloves to Prevent Germs on Your Hands
How to Treat Mild Symptoms at Home
Reducing the Risk for Apartment Residents
Do Not Mix These Cleaning Products
Reducing Risk for Older Adults
Domestic Violence Resources
Guidance for Safe Sex Interactions
Guidance for Public Transportation
Guidance for Grocery Shopping (PDF)
Guidance for Using Masks (PDF)
Guidance for Funerals (PDF)
Guidance for General Public (PDF)
Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting
Viruses Don’t Discriminate and Neither Should We (PDF)
Guidance for Pregnant Women (PDF)
Guidance for People at Higher Risk (PDF)



Cleaning and Disinfection

Maintaining cleanliness - including disinfecting surfaces - is essential in helping to decrease the spread of illness. Select resources for cleaning protocols are below with additional materials available on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting
Guidance for Grocery Shopping (PDF)
How Long Does COVID-19 Last On Surfaces?
Do Not Mix These Cleaning Products
Guidance for Removing Gloves to Prevent Germs on Your Hands
Temperature Check Notice
NOTICE: FDA Recalls Hand Sanitizers



Health Equity Toolkits

Harris County is home to many individuals from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and races. To help ensure everyone represented has the resources needed for learning more about COVID-19 and staying healthy - especially any information that is unique to a community - Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has compiled select Health Equity Toolkits that can be downloaded and shared. Find them in the Community Support Resources or from the link below.







Community Resources

Resources are available for the following:

  • Food Fairs
  • Food Assistance
  • Financial Assistance
  • Mental Health Services
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
  • General Information

For a complete guide to these resources, view the materials available in our Community Support Resources.







Face Coverings and Masks

The use of face coverings and face masks may help to reduce the spread of the virus. This is not intended to replace social distancing or hand washing recommendations. Select resources are available for the proper use of face coverings.

For more information about the use of cloth face coverings, visit the CDC's resources for Using Cloth Face Coverings to Slow The Spread of COVID-19.

For details regarding Mask Order Policies in Harris County, please refer to the County Order resources on Ready Harris.

Guidance for Using Masks (PDF)
Proper Use of Masks, Risk Factors
Printable Sign: Customers Should Wear Face Coverings / Face Masks
How to Wear a Face Mask Properly



Mass Gatherings and Community Events

As per the CDC, large events and mass gatherings may contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Examples of these events include (but are not limited to) conferences, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, etc. 

For guidance on the following, please see the CDC website...

Safely Protesting During COVID-19
How to Make a Social Bubble



Mental Health

Resources are available for those whose mental health may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether this is you or a loved one, find materials on supporting mental health and reducing stress during the spread of COVID-19 in our Community Support Resources.

If you or a loved one need help in coping with anxiety, grief, or other issues, please reach out to the Harris County COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line at 833-251-7544.







Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Select resources are available regarding the use of PPE, including face coverings.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting
Guidance for Using Masks (PDF)
Social Distancing and the Breathing Zone: Why 6 FT of Distance?
Guidance for Removing Gloves to Prevent Germs on Your Hands
Proper Use of Masks, Risk Factors
Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Sequence



Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Select resources are available for those individuals who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Additional resources - including those for caring for young children - may be found on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Guidance for Pregnant Women (PDF)
Guidance for Maternal Health
Guidance for Early Care & Education



Return to Work 

General Operations

Select resources are available for those returning to work and normal operations.*

*Resources for business owners reopening and managing their company during COVID-19, please refer to the Reopening Guidance Documents section.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Paid Leave)


Employees Returning to Work After COVID-19 Illness or Exposure

Please see the following resources for returning to work in non-healthcare settings following COVID-19 isolation or quarantine. This includes those individuals who may or may not have experienced symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19 as well as those who were exposed to COVID-19 without wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Guidance - Return to Work After Illness or Exposure
Extended Guidance - Return to Work After Illness or Exposure



School Guidance and Updates

For more information about returning to school and associated benchmarks, view our School Guidance and Updates resources.







Social Distancing and Self Monitoring

Select resources are available concerning social distancing guidelines and recommendations for self monitoring.

Social Distancing and the Breathing Zone: Why 6 FT of Distance?
Reducing the Risk for Apartment Residents
How to Treat Mild Symptoms at Home
Guidance for Self Isolation
Keeping Safe In Multigenerational Homes
The Power Of Social Distancing



Social Media Toolkits

In an effort to educate and share awareness regarding COVID-19, HCPH encourages you to utilize and share the social media images created by our departments throughout your own social media platforms. 







Testing and Results

COVID-19 testing is available at many locations across Harris County. For testing locations nearest you as well as details regarding acquiring test results, please visit the Testing Locations and Information resources.







Vulnerable Populations

Based on available information from medical professionals, it has been found that adults over the age of 65 as well as people of any age who have severe underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk from serious illness from COVID-19. More information about those conditions that may impact vulnerability can be found in the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) resources for those who are recommended to take extra precautions as well as those who are at higher risk.

In addition to information available from the CDC, HCPH has put together resources that vulnerable populations may find helpful. 

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Guidance for People at Higher Risk (PDF)
Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks (PDF)
Guidance for Assisted Living (PDF)
Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting
Guidance for General Public (PDF)
Guidance for Care Givers (PDF)
Guidance for Using Masks (PDF)
Guidance for Grocery Shopping (PDF)
Guidance for Public Transportation
Social Distancing and the Breathing Zone: Why 6 FT of Distance?
Guidance for Safe Sex Interactions
How Long Does COVID-19 Last On Surfaces?
Reducing Risk for Older Adults
Do Not Mix These Cleaning Products
Guidance for Removing Gloves to Prevent Germs on Your Hands
Proper Use of Masks, Risk Factors
What Happens At A Testing Site?
Keeping Safe In Multigenerational Homes



World Health Organization (WHO) Myth Busters

In an effort to combat misinformation, the World Health Organization created several infographics regarding frequently asked questions about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. We encourage you to share these across your network to help set the record straight about COVID-19.

For a complete list of WHO Myth Busters, go to the World Health Organization (WHO) website.