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 in the navigation to jump to each section or scroll down to view more.

Self report your at-home COVID-19 test results

HCPH monitors COVID-19 activity in Harris County. Help us by self-reporting test results to our department, and obtain guidance on what to do next to take care of yourself and your loved ones.  

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:
Viruses Don’t Discriminate and Neither Should We (PDF)
Basic COVID-19 and Testing Information
CDC Isolation and Quarantine Guidance (12/27/21)
Rapid Antigen Testing Program

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. The status of these benchmarks can also be seen on the Harris County / City of Houston COVID-19 Data Hub.

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.

Rapid Antigen Testing Program
CDC Isolation and Quarantine Guidance (12/27/21)
Age 5-11 Vaccine Provider List
Partner Incentive Program One Pager
Vaccine FAQs for Pregnant Women
Vaccine Incentive Request Form
2021 COVID-19 School Guidance K-12
Healthy Community Design Worksheet
Community Health and Wellness Services Flyer
What to Expect At A Vaccine Distribution Unit (VDU)
How To Be A COVID-19 Vaccine Champion In Your Community!
Local 5 - 17 Year Old Vaccine Provider List
HCPH COVID-19 Vaccinations for Ages 5 - 17
Safety Guide for Faith-Based Organizations
Safety Guide: Summer School & Youth Programs
COVID-19 Vaccination and Ramadan
Vaccination Sites for 80+ Adults Only (March 22 to 27)
Celebrating Passover During COVID-19
Celebrating Easter During COVID-19
Celebrating Ramadan During COVID-19
Celebrating 2021 Graduates Safely
Vaccine Registration Push Card
COVID-19 Guidance During Spring Break
COVID-19 Resources: Food Fairs
Helping Older Adults Register for HCPH's COVID Vaccine
Return to Work After COVID-19
About the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine
Quarantine Recommendation for Vaccinated Persons
UPDATED CDC Mask Guidance
COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Strategy Summary
Free At-Home COVID-19 Testing
About COVID-19 Virus Mutations
About the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
Staying COVID-19 Free!
About the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine
Bus Driver Safety Tips

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)
Guidance for Public Transportation
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

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
UPDATED CDC Mask Guidance
Are Two Masks Better Than One?

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 Health

As our community continues to stays safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember to continue practices and routines that help maintain your and your family's personal health. This includes healthy living practices as well as routine health screening and appointments.

Routine Health Screenings and COVID-19

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 Early Care & Education
Vaccine FAQs for Pregnant Women

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

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. 

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.