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COVID-19: Home Care & Precautions

Anyone who is sick — even if they're not sure whether they have COVID-19 — should keep their distance from other people to prevent spreading the illness. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 should stay home for at least 5 days, and make sure to isolate from other household members.

What Should We Do at Home?

To protect others at home, someone who is sick should:

  • As much as possible, keep away from other people and pets in your home.
  • Wear a mask if they must be around other people. Masks shouldn't be worn by kids younger than 2 years old or anyone who can't take off a mask without help. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash their hands right away. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If possible, stay in a bedroom and use a bathroom separate from other people in the home.
  • Use separate dishes, glasses, cups, and eating utensils and not share these with other household members. After use, run them through the dishwasher or wash with very hot soapy water.
  • Use separate bedding and towels and not share these with other household members.

Also:

  • If the person who is sick can't wear a mask, caregivers should wear one while they're in the same room.
  • Make sure shared spaces in the home have good air flow. You can open a window or turn on an air filter or air conditioner.
  • All household members should wash their hands well and often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

If the person you're caring for seems to be getting sicker, call your doctor right away. Tell the doctor about their symptoms and whether they've been tested for COVID-19.

If they need to go to the doctor:

  • The person should wear a mask.
  • Keep tissues handy in case they need to cough or sneeze.

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if the person has trouble breathing, is confused, or is very drowsy.

What Else Should I Know?

If you're caring for someone who has COVID-19 or who has symptoms, tell other people who may have been in close contact with the person who is infected because they should get tested.

For more information about what to do if you are sick or caring for someone with COVID-19, check the CDC’s guidelines.

Reviewed by: Jonathan M. Miller, MD, Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: Oct 5, 2023

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