If someone in your house is sick with COVID or even has COVID like symptoms,, there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of becoming infected.
The newest guidance is that you need to stay home for 24 days if you can’t isolate yourself from the person who is sick.. That’s 10 days for them to stop being infectious, plus 14 to make sure you don’t develop symptoms yourself. 24 days is a very long time!
If you can make some modest changes to properly isolate the sick person, you can return to work 14 days after your last close contact with the infectious person. We know that can make a huge difference for employees. And of course, COVID is a nasty illness, with lasting effects even for those without underlying conditions and even for young people, and it’s just downright safer not to get sick!
Your first thought will be to help care for the sick person, and you should if they need help! But if their symptoms are mild, or there’s someone else by staying somewhere else, isolated for 14 days from the last time you had contact with the infectious sick person. Do you have a friend with a spare bedroom who is willing to take you in? A hotel or AirBnB nearby where you can self-isolate without coming into contact with others? This is the most foolproof way to avoid having repeated close contact with the sick person in your house.
If you do need to stay in the same home as the sick person, here are some tips to help you reduce the risk of becoming infected yourself.
This is the simplest and most crucial one here. If you share a room with the sick person, sleep on the couch or find another place to sleep.
Everyone else who is healthy uses another bathroom. If that’s not possible, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize the shared bathroom between every use. Be sure you’re using an EPA-approved product for killing the Coronavirus (found here), and wear gloves and mask (and goggles or face shield, if available) the entire time. It’s crucial to do this between every use.
Rather than have the sick person coming out into the kitchen and possibly contaminating a shared space, have a healthy household member prep their food and leave it at their door. Knock, but have them wait a minute or two to pick it up so that you have time to leave the area when they open the door. This may sound extreme, but it’s extremely effective in terms of keeping the sick person out of shared areas and spreading the virus throughout the house. If this isn’t possible, ensure that you’re thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the kitchen between every use, with the same level of care as you would clean the bathroom.
This is crucial in terms of preventing the spread of the virus. They may be coughing, sneezing, having a runny nose, etc. and it’s extremely important that any time they leave their assigned isolation area (either to use a shared bathroom or take a walk, etc.) they are fully masked up. Gloves would be useful too, if you have them! And of course, if there’s any chance that you’re going to be in the same room as the sick person, you should wear a mask, as well. Transmission is much lower when both people wear masks!
Even with all these measures, even if the person is isolated in an assigned area with bedroom and bathroom, regular sanitizing of high-touch areas like doorknobs, faucets, toilet handles, fridge door and cabinet handles, and similar areas is key. Again, be sure to use an EPA-approved product that kills the Coronavirus.
Everyone in the household should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water regularly, every time they use the bathroom, prepare food, put makeup on, and before they do anything that includes touching their face or eyes.
Remember that the coronavirus is spread through aerosolized droplets that come from sneezing, coughing, talking, etc. The key to reducing the likelihood of getting COVID when someone in your household is sick is in containing those droplets in a designated area just for the sick person. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
And of course, if you start to feel any symptoms yourself, stay home and isolate yourself as best you can and assume you have COVID. Unfortunately, the reality is that you can be incredibly careful after finding out that someone is sick and still have caught it before they knew they were sick. This is especially true since people are infectious 2 days before they develop any symptoms, and some never develop symptoms at all. Be prepared for the reality that you might get sick - order groceries or have a friend drop them off, make sure you have some Tylenol on hand, and