Part 2: Caring for self-isolated patients with COVID-19

Apr 15, 2020

The CDC has tips, guidelines in place to care for COVID-19 patients who are home isolated

Those that only have mild symptoms from COVID-19 and have no serious underlying medical conditions, such as lung disease, heart disease or diabetes, can recover at home in self-isolation. Care at home can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

That doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn’t be cared for. If you are caring for someone with suspected or known COVID-19, here are four things to know:

1. Monitor the person for worsening symptoms and know the emergency warning signs

  • Have their healthcare provider’s contact information readily available and call if he or she gets sicker
  • For medical emergencies, call 9-1-1 and notify the dispatch personnel that they have or are suspected of having COVID-19
  • Some of the emergency warning signs that need immediate medical attention include:
    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

If your loved one experiences other symptoms that are severe or concerning, consult your medical provider. 

2. Prevent the spread of germs when caring for someone who is sick

  • Have the person stay in one room, away from other people, including yourself, as much as possible.
  • Avoid having visitors.
  • Avoid sharing household items including everything from the bathroom (if possible) to dishes, towels and bedding.
  • If facemasks are available, have them wear a facemask when they are around you or other people.
  • If they are too sick to wear a facemask, you or others should wear a facemask while in the same room as them, if facemasks are available.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after interacting with your loved one.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean surfaces every day that are often touched such as countertops, doorknobs and tabletops.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. 

3. Provide symptom treatment

  • Make sure your loved one drinks a lot of fluids to stay hydrated and rests at home.
  • Over-the-counter medicines may help with symptoms. Talk to a healthcare provider about recommended medications for symptoms such as fever and cough.
  • For most people, symptoms last a few days and get better after a week, according to the CDC.

4. When to end home isolation

The CDC recommends self-isolation for a minimum of 14 days depending on the severity of your symptoms. The decision when exactly to end home isolation should be made with a healthcare provider. Your doctor will want to know several things including:

  • You have not had a fever for at least 72 hours without the use of medicine that reduces fever
  • You’ve seen improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough and shortness of breath).

Your physician will make the determination whether or not to order additional COVID-19 testing. 


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