If you or a household member have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the guidelines below for preventing spread of the virus, and managing symptoms.

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If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms

  • Stay home. Call your healthcare provider and tell them you have symptoms of COVID-19. Do this before going to any hospital or clinic. Follow your provider's instructions. You may be advised to isolate yourself at home. This is called self-isolation.
  • Don’t panic. Keep in mind that other illnesses can cause similar symptoms.
  • Stay away from work, school, and public places. Limit physical contact with family members. Limit visitors. Don't kiss anyone or share eating or drinking utensils. Clean surfaces you touch with disinfectant. This is to help prevent the virus from spreading.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, do it into a tissue. Then throw the tissue into the trash. If you don't have tissues, cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
  • Don’t share food or personal items with people in your household. This includes items like eating and drinking utensils, towels, and bedding.
  • Wear a face mask around other people. During a public health emergency, face masks may be reserved for healthcare workers. You may need to make a face mask of your own. You can do this using a scarf, bandana, or other cloth. The CDC has instructions on how to make a mask.
  • If you need to go to a hospital or clinic, expect that the healthcare staff will wear protective equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves, and eye protection. You may be put in a separate room. This is to prevent the possible virus from spreading.
  • Tell the healthcare staff about recent travel. This includes local travel on public transport. Staff may need to find other people you have been in contact with.
  • Follow all instructions the healthcare staff give you.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19

  • Stay home and start self-isolation. Don’t leave your home unless you need to get medical care. Don't go to work, school, or public areas. Don't use public transportation or taxis.
  • Follow all instructions from your healthcare provider. Call your healthcare provider’s office before going. They can prepare and give you instructions. This will help prevent the virus from spreading.
  • If you need to go to a hospital or clinic, expect that the healthcare staff will wear protective equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves, and eye protection. You may be put in a separate room. This is to prevent the possible virus from spreading.
  • Wear a face mask. This is to protect other people from your germs. If you are not able to wear a mask, your caregivers should. During a public health emergency, face masks may be reserved for healthcare workers. You may need to make a face mask of your own. You can do this using a scarf, bandana, or other cloth. Check with your local public health department for mask tips or guidelines.
  • Stay away from other people in your home.
  • Limit contact with pets and animals.
  • Don’t share food or personal items with people in your household. This includes items like eating and drinking utensils, towels, and bedding.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, do it into a tissue. Then throw the tissue into the trash. If you don't have tissues, cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often.

Self-care at home

There is currently no medicine approved to treat the virus. Some experimental and other medicines are being tested against COVID-19. But current treatment is mainly aimed at helping your body while it fights the virus. This is known as supportive care. Take care of yourself at home by:

  • Getting rest. This helps your body fight the illness.
  • Staying hydrated. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of liquids every day. Good choices are water, sport drinks, soft drinks without caffeine, juices, tea, and soup.
  • Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine. These are used to help ease pain and reduce fever. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for which OTC medicine to use.

Caring for a sick person

  • Follow all instructions from healthcare staff.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Wear protective clothing as advised.
  • Make sure the sick person wears a mask. If they can't wear a mask, don't stay in the same room with the person. If you must be in the same room, wear a face mask.
  • Keep track of the sick person’s symptoms.
  • Clean home surfaces often with disinfectant. This includes phones, kitchen counters, fridge door handle, bathroom surfaces, and others.
  • Don’t let anyone share household items with the sick person. This includes eating and drinking tools, towels, sheets, or blankets.
  • Clean fabrics and laundry thoroughly.
  • Keep other people and pets away from the sick person.

When you can stop self-isolation

When you are sick with COVID-19, you should stay away from other people. This is called self-isolation. You can stop self-isolation when all 3 of these are true:

  1. You have had no fever for at least 72 hours. This means no fever without medicine that reduces fever, such as acetaminophen, for at least 72 hours.
  2. Your symptoms are better, such as cough or trouble breathing.
  3. It has been at least 7 days since your first symptoms started.

Talk with your healthcare provider before you leave home. Tell him or her if the 3 things above are true for you. He or she may tell you it’s OK to leave home. In some cases, your state or local area may have specific advice. Your healthcare provider will tell you more.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if a sick person has any of these:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in chest

If a sick person has any of these, call 911:

  • Trouble breathing that gets worse
  • Pain or pressure in chest that gets worse
  • Blue tint to lips or face
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion or trouble waking
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Sweating

Going home from the hospital

If you were diagnosed with COVID-19 and were recently discharged from the hospital:

  • Follow the instructions above for self-care and isolation.
  • Follow the hospital healthcare team’s instructions.
  • Ask questions if anything is unclear to you. Write down answers so you remember them.

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Last modified date: April 29, 2020

This article was originally posted on https://www.staywell.com/coronavirus

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