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How to Care for Yourself at Home with COVID-19

March 19, 2020

Please follow the guidelines below once diagnosed with COVID-19 to prevent spreading it to people in your home and community.

Stay Home Except to Get Medical Care

You should stay home and avoid work, school and close contact with others until 7 days after your fever (Temperature of 100.0F or greater) has ended and your respiratory symptoms (cough and shortness of breath) have significantly improved. If you were taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for your fever, you must be fever-free without taking these medications for 7 days.

Separate Yourself From Other People and Animals in Your Home

If you live with others and/or pets, limit your contact with them as much as possible until 7 days after your fever (Temperature of 100.0F or greater) has ended and your respiratory symptoms (cough and shortness of breath) have significantly improved. Limit your use of common spaces. If you continue to have symptoms, wear a facemask (if you are able) during interactions with members of your home or use of common spaces. Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.

Avoid Sharing Personal Household Items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes

Cough or sneeze into a tissue then throw that tissue in the garbage. Wash your hands immediately. If tissues are not readily available cough into your elbow. This will help prevent the spread of the virus.

Follow-up Visits with Your Health Care Provider

If you must leave your home during this time, it should only be to seek medical care. If possible, call your provider and ask if you can follow-up by phone. You may be asked to follow-up in person with a health care provider before you have been cleared from home isolation. If you need to go to your provider's office, call ahead to let them know you are coming. Wear a facemask when entering the facility if you still have symptoms. Drive alone if possible and avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Clean Your Hands Often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Clean Common Spaces Frequently with Household Cleaners

Use household cleaners to clean and disinfect surfaces that you touched. Clean counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, 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.

What to Do if Your Symptoms Worsen

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your health care provider and tell them that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the health care provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.

Discontinuing Home Isolation

You should remain under home isolation precautions for 7 days after fever (100.0°F or greater) is gone and after your symptoms have significantly improved. You do not need to be cleared from home isolation by your doctor or local health department. However, if you have any questions about whether you can stop your home isolation, contact your primary care physician. Household contacts should follow precautions, quarantine and monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after you end your home isolation.

Additional information for your household members, intimate partners, and caregivers is available through the CDC.