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Woman washing her hands

In this time of COVID-19, individuals are ordered to shelter-in-place, maintain social distancing, and endure imposed quarantines. Hundreds of thousands have been infected and thousands more have died. An infected person can spread the disease rapidly when he or she talks, sneezes, or coughs sending respiratory droplets to people nearby. Therefore, it’s important to prevent or slow the rate of new COVID-19 infections.

While some families deal with the mental challenges of social isolation, unemployment, school closings, and limited access to household items, other families must deal with these same issues plus the care of a sick family member. There are ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when caring for someone at home.

Reduce Contact with Sick Family Members

  • Allow only one person to provide care.
  • Don’t allow contact with pets or other animals.
  • Keep a sick family member in a separate room, if possible.
  • Wear a face mask and disposable gloves when in the room.
  • Protect your eyes if closer than 6 feet to a sick family member.
  • Make sure that a sick family member wears a face mask when you are in the room or when he or she has to be around other family members.
  • Allow a sick family member to use a separate bathroom, if possible. Be sure the lid of the toilet is always down before flushing.
  • Clean bedroom and bathroom only as needed.
  • Wash a sick family member’s laundry separately. Keep laundry away from your body, and wear disposal gloves.
  • Restrict visitors.

 Practice Prevention with Family Members

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a hand sanitizer that is made of at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Do not share personal household items with a sick family member.
  • Clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces, such as phone keypads, computer keyboards, remote controls, doorknobs, toilets, counters, and laundry baskets.
  • Do not reuse disposable gloves or face masks.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Be sure to wash your hands afterward.

Know When to End Isolation

 If your family member will not be tested by a doctor to determine if he or she is still contagious, three things must happen before removing the person from isolation:

  1. Seventy-two hours (3 full days) must pass without fever or taking medication for a fever.
  2. Coughing and shortness of breath must improve.
  3. At least 7 days must pass since symptoms first appeared.

Although you may be happy and relieved that your family member is well and out of isolation, you must continue monitoring yourself and other family members for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) for 14 days.

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