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What To Do If a Family Member Has COVID-19

Johnson Memorial Health on Jan 8, 2022

Blog-COVID-Care-at-HomeAs the percentage of Hoosiers testing positive for the COVID-19 Omicron variant continues to exceed record levels, chances are someone in your home will become infected.

The symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe, and many people testing positive ride out the illness at home. That means family members and others in the household need to provide care while protecting themselves from the highly contagious variant.

If others in your home contract the coronavirus, here are ways to help them as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Board of Health:

Select a “Sick Room” with a door if possible. The infected person should stay in there with the door closed for the entire quarantine and recovery, and not come out except to use a restroom. Other household members, including pets, should stay out of the room. If possible, the window in the sick room should be opened from time to time to circulate fresh air.

Select a “Sick Bathroom” for the infected person to use. Others should use another bathroom. If there is no other in the home, the bathroom should be cleaned and sanitized after it is used by the infected person.

Serve food and medicine at a distance. If the person is able to care for himself, place a tray with the items outside the sick room door. If the person is bedridden, you should wear and mask when taking food and medicine into the room. Their dishes and utensils should be washed with hot water and soap, and you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling them. 

Keep their laundry separate. Changes in clothes should stay in the sick room and you should remove everyone else’s. The patient should place dirty clothes, including washcloths and towels, in a separate lined hamper or basket. The caregiver should wear a mask and disposable gloves when washing the laundry and bedding.

Keep the sick family member isolated and use technology to connect. People battling the coronavirus must stay quarantined to prevent the spread. That can be lonely, especially after symptoms subside. You can help keep up their morale by communicating by video chat or text – even if you are in another room. You should encourage friends and others to call or text them as well.

Keep them comfortable while keeping your distance. Make sure they have blankets and pillows, so you don’t have to go in and out of the room. Keep the house or apartment quiet so they can sleep.

Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and items every day. Even if the infected person is secluded in the sick room, there will be some contact when providing food and medicine. It is recommended to regularly clean all tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and electronics using soap and water and then a household disinfectant.

Provide as much care as much as possible. While you should avoid contact, you can encourage the infected person to take their prescribed medication, track their temperature and blood-oxygen levels and remind them to stay hydrated. Make notes several times a day about their symptoms in case they need to contact the doctor or go to the hospital.

Make sure they have entertainment. Provide them a laptop computer, television, cell phone and chargers, books and magazines. Help them pass the time by playing online games with them from the other room.

Stay isolated yourself. Because you are in close contact with a COVID-19 patient, you could be a carrier of the virus, even if you are asymptomatic. Do not allow visitors to the home. Caregivers can leave their home 14 days after their last close contact with the person who is sick (based on the time it takes to develop illness), or 14 days after the person who is sick meets the CDC’s criteria to end home isolation.

Make arrangements for food. Plan to order delivery from restaurants and grocery stores, or ask friends or family if they are able to shop for you, and leave the items outside your front door. If those options aren't available, wear a mask over your mouth and nose to the grocery store and make as few trips as possible.

Ask for emotional help or moral support. It’s OK to let friends, neighbors and family know that someone you live with has the coronavirus, and to seek and accept their help while not letting them near the sick person. This is a stressful time and everyone’s mental health should get as much attention as their physical well-being.

Diligence is critical during this dangerous time. If the infected family member or you experience a spike in fever and notice trouble breathing, please call 911 or your healthcare provider.