If a family member or someone you live with gets sick with COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, you can take steps to help them heal and keep the rest of the household safe.
To get started, follow these recommended steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for taking care of a household member who has the coronavirus disease.
Practicing Social Distancing at Home
The CDC recommends that healthy household members remain at home or in a comparable setting as much as possible and practice social distancing.
If you haven’t been consistently practicing the recommendations by the CDC in terms of caring for the infected person, it might be a good idea to increase your isolation to a quarantine with no public activities. Follow your physician’s recommendations if they differ.
Choose a Room for the Person to Stay
If possible, the CDC recommends that the person who’s sick with coronavirus should stay in a designated room called a sick room, away from other people. They should also use a separate bathroom, too, if possible.
Everyone else in the home should stay out of the infected person’s room as much as possible but can support them and communicate often through texting, calling or video chatting. Also, make sure everyone wears a mask any time you're in a shared space with your loved one.
Use Separate Household Items
The person who’s sick should never share dishes, eating utensils, drinking glasses, cups, towels and bedding or any other items. Any non-disposable dishes and utensils should be handled with disposable gloves and washed with soap and hot water or in a dishwasher. If gloves aren’t available, remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling items, for 20 seconds each time.
Monitor Their Symptoms
It’s important that you understand and can help your family or household member follow their health care provider’s instructions for care and taking medications, if applicable. You can also offer help with basic needs, including getting groceries, prescriptions and other necessities.
To help ease their symptoms, make sure the person stays hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Encourage them to get as much rest as possible, too. You can also offer them over-the-counter medication to help symptoms like fever.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If the person with coronavirus develops any of these emergency warning signs, the CDC says to get medical attention immediately:
- Bluish lips or face
- New confusion or inability to rouse
- Persistent pain or pressure in their chest
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
If the person has a medical emergency and you need to call 911, tell the dispatch personnel that the patient has confirmed or suspected coronavirus.
Additionally, many health care providers are offering telehealth appointments right now, which gives you the opportunity for an online doctor visit, right from home. You can also set up a video visit with a doctor through the AdventHealth app, which you can get right on your smartphone or tablet.
Monitoring Your Own Health
All household members in your home should monitor their health, advises the CDC. This includes caregivers, household members and intimate partners. If any household members develop symptoms suggestive of coronavirus, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should contact their physician immediately.
Clean Your Hands and Use Protective Equipment
Everyone in your home, regardless of whether they’re sick or healthy, should practice proper hygiene. Each person should wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If that isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Make sure your sick household member and caregivers have plenty of clean, disposable face masks to wear at home to help prevent spreading coronavirus to others. Caregivers should also wear disposable gloves, if available, when touching or having contact with the person’s blood, stool or bodily fluids, such as saliva, sputum or mucus. Safely dispose of these items after using them and be sure to throw the gloves away as well.
How to Disinfect the Sick Room and Bathroom
Any disposable gloves, face masks or other contaminated items should be placed in a lined container before disposing of them with the regular household trash. After handling any of these items, clean your hands immediately.
Clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces, like countertops, doorknobs, tabletops, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, tablets, keyboards and bedside tables. If any surfaces have blood, stool or bodily fluids on them, clean those as well.
Any clothes or bedding that have blood, stool or bodily fluids on them should immediately be removed and washed. Wear disposable gloves while handling these soiled items and hold them away from your body. Do not shake the laundry, as that could spread germs. Immediately after removing your gloves, clean your hands thoroughly.
When to Discontinue Home Isolation
Current CDC guidelines say that if you are not being tested to determine whether you’re still contagious, a person who’s sick with coronavirus can leave home after these three conditions happen:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
- No fever for at least 24 hours with no fever-reducing medication
- Other symptoms have improved (e.g., cough has subsided, shortness of breath has improved)
Stay Informed, Healthy and Safe
To make sure you’re taking the steps necessary to keep yourself healthy and safe, check in with your physician and follow recommendations from trusted sources such as the CDC and state health officials.
As always, we’re here for you, too. If you need care, know that we’ve put additional safety measures into place at all of our facilities. We're here if you need us for Emergency or Urgent Care, and you can lean on one of our expert Primary Care providers for your whole health care. For more information about our services, visit AdventHealthGordon.com.
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