If someone has been exposed to COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms—such as fever, chills, cough, trouble breathing, headache, nausea or vomiting—the first thing you should do is call your doctor.
The good news is, coming down with COVID-19 doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the hospital. Most people with the virus can be treated at home. If you find yourself caring for someone who has coronavirus, follow these CDC recommendations to protect yourself and your loved ones. Be sure to apply these guidelines in all cases, including when someone has:
- Symptoms of COVID-19
- A COVID-19 diagnosis, with or without symptoms
Help meet basic needs
Help your loved one:
- Follow the doctor's instructions for care and medicine to help speed recovery. For most people, COVID-19 symptoms last a few days to a week.
- Feel better with Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or other over-the-counter medicines if fever is high or causing discomfort.
- Rest and drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Stock up on items they’ll need, including groceries, prescriptions and other basics. If you’re quarantining, consider using a delivery service.
- Take care of their fur babies and limit contact between sick people and pets whenever possible.
The pandemic has caused many people to delay or avoid seeking emergency medical attention, even when they have warning signs of serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke and appendicitis. Our ERs are a safe place for care that can't wait, and it's both necessary and safe to call 911 or go to the ER in an emergency.
Keep the doctor’s number handy and call if your loved one’s condition doesn’t improve or keeps getting worse.
If you do have to call 911 for a medical emergency, let the dispatcher know that the patient has or might have COVID-19. If you’re driving to the ER and it’s safe to do so, call ahead and let them know you’re bringing a COVID-positive or COVID-possible person. They may direct you to a dedicated COVID entrance.
Watch out for these emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If your loved one has these symptoms (and this is not an exhaustive list), seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish lips or face
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- Confusion which was not present previously
- Inability to wake or stay awake
CDC recommendations for cloth face masks include:
- Sick people should wear cloth face masks when they are around other people at home and when they go out, including visiting a doctor’s office
- Caregivers may choose to wear a mask when caring for a sick person but should wear gloves when coming into contact with body fluids
- Children under 2, people with breathing problems and those unable to remove a mask without help should not wear one
Keep yourself safe
It’s important to protect your own health while you take care of someone with coronavirus. Ideally, the caregiver should not be someone who is at high risk for severe illness or complications of COVID-19, such as older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.
Use as many of these CDC-recommended prevention methods as possible to keep from getting infected:
- Limit contact with the sick person
- Practice social distancing; stay 6 feet away
- Use a separate bedroom and bathroom
- Discourage visitors, especially those at higher risk
- Eat in separate rooms or areas
- Avoid sharing personal items such as dishes, utensils, bedding and electronics (including a cell phone)
- Encourage good airflow in shared spaces
- Opening windows and using fans can help remove respiratory droplets from the air
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and items
- Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your face
- Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches
- Wear disposable gloves when washing a sick person’s laundry (which can be washed with other people’s items)
- Monitor your own health
- Stay home and check yourself for COVID symptoms while you’re caring for the sick person
- Continue to stay home for 14 days after your last close contact with the sick person or 14 days after the sick person meets the criteria to end home isolation
The EIRMC ER is open, safe and staffed with experienced clinicians who are ready to help in any emergency, whether COVID-related or not.
Learn more about the steps we’re taking to keep patients, family and caregivers safe in our Coronavirus Resource Hub.