No matter how cautious we are both inside and outside of the home to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, some of us will get sick. But, even if someone in your household develops symptoms, don’t assume there’s nothing you can do to prevent getting sick yourself. Here are guidelines to help prevent infection even when the virus is in your own household.
The designated caregiver should not be someone considered to be at a higher risk for severe COVID-19-related illness, such as an older person or someone with other health conditions. The appropriate caregiver should limit contact they have with household members beyond the person they are caring for.
Isolate the person who is sick
If someone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms, they must take care of themselves as much as possible. It can be hard to leave a loved one isolated in their room when they are feeling poorly. But because the virus is so contagious, you must take every precaution to risk further spread in your household.
- The person who is sick should ideally stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If this isn’t possible, they should maintain the maximum possible distance from other household members.
- The sick person should avoid using communal areas (such as the kitchen or living room).
Protect yourself and other household members
Keep your home (and particularly the room of the person who is sick) well ventilated.
The person who is sick should wear a snugly fitted cloth face covering whenever they are sharing space with another household member. However, medical-grade facemasks should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.
Wear disposable gloves when handling anything that has been in contact with the person you are looking after, including laundry and dirty dishes.
Dispose of gloves in a lined trash can.
After disposing of your gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Cleaning and disinfection
- If possible, the person who is sick should thoroughly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in their own room and bathroom. If using a shared bathroom, they should clean and disinfect the bathroom after each use, paying particular attention to faucets and toilet handles. Don’t forget the light switch. If the sick person cannot perform these tasks, the caregiver should wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the toilet before cleaning it.
- Do not allow the sick person to clean or disinfect communal areas. This is best done by someone who isn’t infected.
- Wear disposable gloves while cleaning.
- When cleaning and disinfecting, focus on high-touch surfaces: tables, doorknobs, keyboards, light switches, toilets, faucets, electronic devices, etc.
- Clean electronic devices with spray containing at least 70% alcohol.
- First clean with soap and water to remove grime and dirt
- Follow up by using a disinfectant--preferably an EPA-registered household disinfectant.
Cover their basic needs
- Run errands for them, for example grocery shopping and pharmacy trips.
- Take care of and limit access to their pets.
- Help them follow their doctor’s instructions in terms of care and medicine.
- Some over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, might help relieve symptoms and help them feel better.
- Make sure they drink lots of fluids and get adequate rest.=
Most people with coronavirus develop mild to moderate symptoms and can recover fully at home within a week. Some people, however, will develop more serious symptoms that will require medical intervention. Keep their doctor’s phone number on hand should you need to contact them.
Current guidelines from the NYC Health department advise that you should get in contact with your healthcare provider if you still feel sick after three to four days.
Seek medical attention immediately if the person who is sick is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Call 911 and explain to the operator that the person has COVID-19 symptoms.
The list of severe symptoms is not all-inclusive. If you are at all concerned or troubled by their symptoms, get in contact with your healthcare provider.
CDC has set up a Self-Checker to help advise you of what medical care is appropriate.
Take care of yourself
Don’t forget to monitor your own health, both physical and mental. Caring and worrying about someone who is ill can be anxiety-inducing. For mental health counseling, the New York State Office of Mental Health have created an Emotional Support Hotline: 1-844-863-9314.
Not everyone will be in the position to follow all of these guidelines. We’ve included the caveat “as much as possible” with many of the tips above. For example, not all of us have access to multiple bathrooms or ample space in our homes to strictly maintain social distancing. However, it’s important to do as much as you can to protect yourself and family members from contracting the virus.
Guidance in this blog is in accordance with CDC guidelines as of 04/21/20 and is a compilation of official advice given by the CDC. If you want to know more about anything mentioned in our blog today, click on the links in our sources.