COVID-19 Community Information Center

How to properly care for someone who is in self-isolation

If you’re caring for someone who has COVID-19, you need to know how to protect yourself and others, while still providing care. Learn what to do when someone has symptoms of COVID-19 or when someone has been diagnosed with the virus. This can also be followed when caring for someone who is suspected of having COVID-19 or someone who has tested positive but is not showing symptoms.

*Note: According to the CDC, older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for developing more severe illness from COVID-19. People at higher risk of severe illness should call their doctor as soon as symptoms start.

Help cover basic needs

  • Help the person who is sick follow their doctor’s instructions for care and medicine.
  • For most people, symptoms last a few days and people usually feel better after a week.
  • See if over-the-counter medicines for fever help the person feel better.
  • Make sure the person who is sick drinks plenty of fluids and rests.
  • Help them with grocery shopping, filling prescriptions and getting other items they may need. Consider having items delivered through a delivery service, if possible.
  • Take care of their pet(s), and limit contact between the person who is sick and their pet(s) when possible.

The person who is sick should isolate

  • If possible, have the person who is sick use a separate bedroom and bathroom. If possible, have the person who is sick stay in their own “sick room” or area and away from others. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from the sick person.
  • Shared space: If you have to share space, make sure the room has good airflow.
    • Open the window to increase air circulation.
    • Improving ventilation helps remove respiratory droplets from the air.
  • Avoid having any unnecessary visitors, especially visits from people who are at higher risk for severe illness.

Caregivers should quarantine
Caregivers and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should stay home.

Eat in separate rooms or areas and avoid sharing items

  • Stay separated: The person who is sick should eat (or be fed) in their room, if possible.
  • Wash dishes and utensils using gloves and hot water: Handle any dishes, cups/glasses, or silverware used by the person who is sick with gloves. Wash them with soap and hot water or in a dishwasher.
  • Clean hands after taking off gloves or handling used items.
  • Do not share dishes, cups/glasses, silverware, towels, bedding, or electronics (like a cell phone) with the person who is sick.

Wear a mask

  • The person who is sick should wear a mask when they are around other people at home and out (including before they enter a doctor’s office).
  • The caregiver may also wear a mask when caring for a person who is sick.

Clean your hands often

  • Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Tell everyone in the home to do the same, especially after being near the person who is sick.
  • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Hands off: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Clean and then disinfect
Clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces and items every day

Around the house

  • Clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces and items every day: This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics.
  • Clean the area or item with soap and water if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to kill germs. Many also recommend wearing gloves, making sure you have good airflow, and wiping or rinsing off the product after use.

Wash and dry laundry

  • Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people’s items, but wear gloves and do not shake the laundry.
  • Use the warmest water setting you can.
  • Dry laundry, on hot if possible, completely.
  • Wash hands after putting clothes in the dryer.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers. Wash hands afterwards.

Track your own health

  • Caregivers should stay home and monitor their health for COVID-19 symptoms while caring for the person who is sick.
  • Caregivers can leave their home 14 days after their last close contact with the person who is sick (based on the time it takes to develop illness), or 14 days after the person who is sick meets the criteria to end home isolation.

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