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How do I safely take care of someone who’s sick?

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If you suspect that a loved one has coronavirus, it is critical to play it safe while taking care of them to avoid getting the infection yourself and also to avoid spreading it to others while you await testing or results. 

Do your best to limit contact with the person, but make sure that you are providing support and helping them to follow their doctor’s instructions while watching for any warning signs. It is recommended that both the sick person and the caregiver wear cloth face coverings when they must interact. If the mask causes breathing difficulties for the patient, then only the caregiver should wear a mask. Both parties should also wash their hands frequently and the caregiver should wear gloves when possible, especially if they will be in contact with bodily fluids.

As with most viruses, you should encourage them to drink a lot of fluids and rest as much as possible. You can offer tylenol or other recommended over-the-counter medicines or supportive measures to help them feel better. Help them get their prescriptions if needed and also get other groceries and supplies for them so that they can stay in quarantine. When you do see them or talk to them, watch for emergency warning signs which include (but are not limited to): difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, unrelenting chest pain or pressure, confusion, bluish coloration of lips or face. If these occur, call 911 and inform them that the patient has or may have COVID.

In order to limit contact, the sick person should ideally use their own living space (bathroom and bedroom) if possible and avoid any visitors. If spaces do have to be shared, leave windows open and use fans to improve ventilation. The sick individual should eat in their own room and their dishes and utensils should only be handled when wearing gloves. To clean and disinfect, follow the guidelines listed here. (May 4, 2020)

You can read more about the recently updated CDC guidelines on “Caring for Someone Sick at Home” here.