Tips for staying safe when someone in your home is sick (CDC Guidelines)

protect your health when caring for loved onesCDC1

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Homes and Residential Communities:

Recommended precautions for household members, intimate partners, and caregivers in a nonhealthcare setting may have close contact with a person with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or a person under investigation. Close contacts should monitor their health; they should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, shortness of breath).

Close contacts should follow these recommendations:

Make sure that you understand and can help the patient follow their healthcare provider’s instructions for medication(s) and care. You should help the patient with basic needs in the home and provide support for getting groceries, prescriptions, and other personal needs.

Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker (dangerously high fever, trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face), call his or her healthcare provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected. Ask the healthcare provider to call the local or state health department for additional guidance. If the patient has a medical emergency and you need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that the patient has, or is being evaluated for COVID-19. Put on a facemask before medical help arrives.

Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible (this is known as home isolation). Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available. In the bedroom/bathroom dedicated for an ill person: consider reducing cleaning frequency to as-needed (e.g., soiled items and surfaces) to avoid unnecessary contact with the ill person. If a separate bathroom is not available, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by an ill person. If this is not possible, the caregiver should wait as long as practical after use by an ill person to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces.

Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.

Do not handle pets while sick. Healthy household members should care for any pets in the home. For more information, see COVID-19 and Animals.

Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.

Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.

Additional times to clean hands include:

  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After using the restroom
  • Before eating or preparing food
  • After contact with animals or pets
  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

The patient should wear a facemask when you are around other people. If the patient is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), you, as the caregiver, should wear a mask when you are in the same room as the patient.

Wear a disposable facemask and gloves when you touch or have contact with the patient’s body fluids, such as saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit, urine, blood or stool.
Throw out disposable facemasks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse.
When removing personal protective equipment, first remove and dispose of gloves. Then, immediately clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Next, remove and dispose of facemask, and immediately clean your hands again with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid sharing household items with the patient. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and hot water or put in the dishwasher. The ill person should eat/be fed in their designated sick room if possible, to reduce possible spread. Non-disposable food service items should be handled with gloves and washed with hot water or in a dishwasher. Clean hands after handling used food service items.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures (faucets, sinks), toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, remote controls, and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Options For cleaning hard surfaces: water with detergent and soap, rubbing alcohol (at least 70%), hydrogen peroxide or a diluted bleach solution are recommended. (5 Tablespoons or 1/3 cup bleach per 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per 1 quart of water. This will give you a 1000+ ppm disinfecting solution. After applying the bleach solution, let the area sit for about 10 minutes, then wipe it with clean water.) NEVER MIX household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Remember that bleach removes color from fabric and clothing.

For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.

The caregiver can provide personal cleaning supplies for an ill person’s room and bathroom. These supplies include tissues, paper towels and cleaners. If possible, dedicate a lined trash can for the ill person. Use gloves when removing garbage bags, handling, and disposing of trash. Wash hands after handling or disposing of trash. Consider consulting with your local health department about contaminated trash disposal guidance.

Cleaning covid contaminated laundry

Wash laundry thoroughly.
Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air. Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. If possible, consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.
Use a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions. Launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.

Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after handling these items. Washing with soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.

Discuss any additional questions with your state or local health department or healthcare provider. Check available hours when contacting your local health department. The non-emergency COVID-19 call center, which can be reached at 541-682-1380, will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) has created a Coronavirus Hotline, which you can reach by calling 833-OHSU-CCC (833-647-8222), if you have questions about symptoms or care. The hotline will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. All online resources at OHSU related to coronavirus can be found here.

Close contact is defined as—
Being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case.


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