How to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Within Your Household
Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.
If you’re caring for someone with COVID-19, you might be wondering how you can prevent yourself and other family members from getting sick. We asked Dr. Nagakrishnal Nachimuthu, infectious disease specialist at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group in Livingston, for expert advice on safely caring for a loved one who has tested positive for the virus.
Maintain Social Distance From Any Housemates With COVID-19
It’s best for you to stay at least six feet away from any housemates with COVID-19. If you can, stay in a different room and use a different bathroom, and if that’s not possible, ensure there’s adequate airflow in any spaces you’ll be sharing.
It’s imperative for the patient to stay away from people at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19. These groups of people include older family members, nursing home residents, and anyone with serious underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, asthma, and HIV.
Although it may be difficult, keep pets away from anyone who has tested positive. While there are no confirmed cases of pets infecting humans, there have been reports of humans infecting pets.
Wear a Mask When You Can’t Socially Distance
When you must be close to someone with COVID-19, wear a cloth mask over your mouth and nose. However, it’s still unknown how well the mask keeps a healthy person from breathing in the virus, so don’t let wearing a mask give you a false sense of security. Maintain social distance when feasible, and refrain from touching your nose, mouth, or eyes with your hands.
Don’t Share Personal Items
It’s important for you to avoid sharing personal items with an infected person. Designate a set of dishes, cups, and utensils for the patient to use, and when they finish using them, clean them with soap and water. They should have their own bedding and towels, and you shouldn’t share electronic devices like phones, tablets, or video game controllers.
Practice Hand Hygiene
Cough or sneeze into your elbow, or use a tissue and immediately throw it away after using. After any interaction with the patient, wash your hands with warm water and soap for no less than 20 seconds. When you’re unable to wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
If you’re serving as the infected person’s caretaker, make sure to wear gloves when cleaning up their bodily fluids and wash your hands thoroughly after removing your gloves.
Clean Common Surfaces and Wash Laundry Often
The COVID-19 virus can exist for several hours on clothes, utensils, and furniture, and a study suggests it can survive for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Thus, you should clean phones, electronic devices, floors, counters, tables, and doorknobs whenever you have time. In addition, wash laundry more often than you normally would.
For hard surfaces, start by cleaning them with soap and water, and then use a household disinfectant. Soft surfaces, like carpets and rugs, should be washed with cleaning solutions recommended for those types of surfaces. You can clean electronics with products recommended by the manufacturer, alcohol wipes, or disinfectants containing 70% alcohol.
Monitor Your Health
While caring for a loved one with COVID-19, monitor yourself for any signs of contracting the disease, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If you start displaying symptoms or would like more advice on how to care for a loved one, schedule a virtual visit with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician.