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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Home Care & Precautions

Doctors might recommend home care if someone in your family:

Anyone who is sick — even if they don't know for sure they have coronavirus (COVID-19) — should stay home unless they need medical care. This helps prevent the illness from spreading to other people.

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 cloth face covering (or face mask, if you have one) if they must be around other people. Cloth face coverings are for use only by people older than 2 years old who are not having trouble breathing. Do not leave a child alone while they're wearing a cloth face covering. To see how to put on and remove cloth face coverings and face masks, clean them, or make your own cloth face covering, check the CDC's guide.
  • 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 cloth face covering (or face 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.
  • Do not allow visitors into your home. This includes children and adults. 
  • 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.
  • Wash the sick person's clothing, bedding, and towels with detergent on the hottest temperature possible. Wear gloves when handling their laundry, if possible. Wash your hands well after handling the laundry (even if you wore gloves).
  • Every day, use a household cleaner or wipe to clean things that get touched a lot. These include doorknobs, light switches, toys, remote controls, sink handles, counters, and phones. Keep a sick child's toys separate from other toys, if possible.

To protect others in your community:

  • The person who is sick should stay home unless they need medical care.
  • Other household members also should stay home. Follow instructions from your doctor, local health care department, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about who should stay home and for how long.
  • If you must go out of the house, wear a cloth face covering or face mask and keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between you and other people.
  • Tell other people who were around the sick person. Your local or state health department can help you if you aren't sure who to notify.

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 coronavirus (COVID-19).

If they need to go to the doctor:

  • The person should wear a cloth face covering, if available.
  • 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 with coronavirus or who has coronavirus symptoms, keep taking these precautions until your doctor or local health department say it's safe to stop doing so.

It can get pretty lonely and boring for kids who are sick and need to stay home. While they're separated from family, classmates, and friends, kids who feel well enough may want to:

  • Talk on the phone or do a video call with family and friends.
  • Text or use other messaging apps to talk with family and friends.
  • Play online games that let them play with other kids from home.
  • Do puzzles or Legos. Keep these clean and keep separate from other toys in the house.

Clean items used by the sick person (such as phones and computers) before other family members use them.

Check the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) websites for up-to-date, reliable information about coronavirus.

Date reviewed: April 2020