Each situation is unique and depends on who lives in the house and how vulnerable they are. When an entire family has tested positive at the same time which is not uncommon, they can self-quarantine together. If just one member of a family is infected, it is important to discuss the situation with a health care provider, who can make recommendations to keep the whole family safe.
Sometimes positive patients will stay in a hotel while they are contagious. Other times, a positive patient can self-quarantine in a bedroom and connected bathroom. If that isn’t possible, all members of the household should wear masks at all times in shared spaces. With a shared bathroom, everyone should wipe down every surface with disinfectant wipes after every use. Also, since the coronavirus has been detected in stool, “Close the lid on the toilet before flushing”.
- Who should prepare food
Infected people should avoid preparing food, if possible. If they must cook, they should prepare food only for themselves and thoroughly wipe down kitchen surfaces afterward.
- When to contact a clinician
Typically, COVID-19 is at its worst around 8 to 10 days after symptoms start. Patients should call a doctor or another clinician if their breathing gets more difficult or if they experience chest pain.
- How to monitor your oxygen level at home
COVID-19 often negatively impacts how well oxygen is transferred into the bloodstream, but a patient doesn’t always feel short of breath when their oxygen levels are low. Patients at home can monitor the percentage of oxygen in their blood using a pulse oximeter, a relatively inexpensive device that comfortably clamps onto a finger. A reading of 97% or higher is considered healthy. If a patient has a reading of 96% or lower, they should consult a doctor. When taking a reading, it can take 30 to 60 seconds to come to a steady reading. The monitors may pick up a signal better on one finger than another, if it is reading less than 96%, patients should try it on another finger. The highest pulse oximeter number is the correct one. It could read artificially low, but not artificially high. Many pulse oximeters also record a heart rate or pulse.
- How to stay comfortable
To ease breathing, sleep or lie on the stomach, which is called proning. If possible, patients should get up and move around once an hour, as lying in bed for long periods can cause back pain and stiffness.
- How to speed healing
For exercise and vitamin D from sunshine, COVID-19 patients should get outside once a day for as little as 15 minutes — but only if the air quality is good and they can do it safely without going into public spaces. It is also important to stay well-hydrated.
- When to end quarantine
Patients who are generally healthy and have mild symptoms should follow the 10-3 Rule, self-quarantine for 10 days after symptoms begin and for at least three days following the onset of a fever.
People who are admitted to the hospital should isolate for 20 days following the onset of symptoms. After ending self-isolation, patients should continue to wear masks when out in public and wash hands frequently.