Staying home is the best way to reduce your risk of being infected with COVID-19. But what happens if a member of your family tests positive for the virus? Make a plan how you will isolate a sick person in a shared home so that person can heal without infecting other family members.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid out extensive guidelines for isolation within a home. Here are some key points to remember.
Containment is Key
If possible, establish a bedroom and bathroom that will be used only by the patient. Assign one healthy family member as the caregiver. This person will help the patient follow doctor’s orders, assist with basic needs and monitor symptoms while avoiding making any unnecessary physical contact or spending more time than necessary in the patient’s room. All other family members and pets should avoid contact with the patient.
No visitors should enter the home. Make sure shared spaces have good air flow, either through open windows or air conditioning.
The patient should wear a protective facemask while the caregiver is in the room. If the patient cannot wear a facemask because of breathing problems, the caregiver should wear a disposable facemask while in the patient’s room and dispose of it after leaving the room.
If the caregiver needs to touch the patient or the patient’s body fluids, the caregiver should wear a mask and disposable gloves. Afterward, the caregiver should remove and dispose of gloves first, wash hands, remove and dispose of mask, and wash hands again.
Do not share items such as dishes, utensils, towels or bedding with the patient. After use, wash those items thoroughly. Clean all high-touch surfaces — such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables — every day.
If you or a family member shows symptoms of COVID-19 — such as dry cough and fever — contact your primary care doctor or choose the “COVID-19 Video Visit” option at muhealthvideovisits.org. This video visit assessment is free.