As the confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, and more and more potential points of exposure are identified, many of us are wondering—could I be next? Because testing is currently limited to only the most high-risk and severely infected patients, there may be many more undiagnosed patients in the community.
The fact is, most people who contract the virus will not need medical attention and can safely recover at home without medical intervention. Following CDC guidelines, there are measures caregivers can take that may help keep other members of the household safe.
1. Wash your hands: Washing hands and high-touch surfaces and avoiding touching your face remains the best strategy to avoid spreading COVID-19, as well as other common illnesses such as the flu.
2. Isolate the patient in the home as much as possible: Ideally, those suffering from any illness should have their own bedroom and bathroom, away from other members of the household.
3. Ensure common spaces have good air flow: Open a window or turn on the air conditioning if possible.
4. Use disposable masks and gloves, if available: Use disposable gloves and masks when having physical contact with the patient and dispose of immediately after use. Immediately clean hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer right away.
5. Do not share household items: Dishes, cups, towels and bedding all have the potential to carry COVID-19 and other viruses. Clean them thoroughly after they are used by an infected person.
6. Dispose of waste properly: Disposable gloves and masks, used tissues, and other trash that may carry germs should be placed in a lined container before being disposed of with other household trash.
Caregivers should monitor symptoms and call their healthcare provider if symptoms worsen. In the case of a medical emergency that necessitates calling 911, be sure to notify the operator that you believe your loved one may have COVID-19.
According to the CDC, patients can safely leave the house once they have been fever-free for 72 hours, their symptoms have resolved, and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. However, all residents should continue to remain at home as much as possible until the pandemic has passed.