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Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - So you or someone you love has COVID. Now what do you do?


COVID-positive people riding out the virus at home should always wear a face mask when around other people, including caretakers. If the patient is not able to wear a face mask, the caregiver should wear a mask when in the same room as the patient. (Image via Shutterstock)

By STHS Communication Department

It starting to feel like the COVID-19 coronavirus has been running our lives for eons now, but in reality it’s still extremely new, epidemiologically speaking. Consequently, all of us – including the experts -- are still learning new things about it all the time.

That also means it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of the latest guidance from public health experts. 

To help make sure you’re up on the latest information, below find COVID-19 best practices, as of May 19, 2020, and provided by the Louisiana Department of Health for those who have confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus. Below that, find tips for people who are living with a COVID-positive person in a non-healthcare setting.

If you have COVID-19

 Below, find prevention steps for people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 -- including those awaiting test results -- who do not need to be hospitalized, as well as for people with confirmed COVID-19 who were hospitalized and determined to be medically stable to go home. 

  • Stay home except to get medical care. 
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. 
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor. 
  • Wear a face mask. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. 
  • Clean your hands often. 
  • Avoid sharing personal household items. 
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day. 
  • Monitor your symptoms. Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider. 
  • Do not handle pets or other animals while sick.
  • If you have a medical emergency and must call 911, notify the dispatcher that you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive. 
  • Use the following symptom-based strategy to return to normal activity following a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Continue isolation until:
    -- At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath), and
    -- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. 
If someone in your home has COVID-19

Below, find precautions for household members, intimate partners and caregivers in a non-healthcare setting of a patient with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or a patient under investigation. 

Household members, intimate partners and caregivers in a non-healthcare setting may have close contact with a person with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or a person under investigation. Close contacts should monitor their health and should call their healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath). Close contacts should also follow these recommendations: 
  • Make sure you understand and can help the patient follow their healthcare provider’s instructions for medications and care. You should help the patient with basic needs in the home and provide support for getting groceries, prescriptions, and other personal needs. 
  • Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his or her healthcare provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep people in the office or waiting room from getting infected. Ask the healthcare provider to call the local or state health department for additional guidance. If the patient has a medical emergency and you need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that the patient has or is being evaluated for COVID-19. 
  • Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible. Household members should also use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available. 
  • Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home. 
  • Household members should care for any pets. COVID-positive patients should not handle pets or other animals while sick. 
  • Make sure shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner. 
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water are preferred if hands are visibly dirty. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • The patient should wear a face mask when around other people, including caretakers. If the patient is not able to wear a face mask -- for example, because it causes trouble breathing -- you, as the caregiver, should wear a mask when you are in the same room as the patient. 
  • Wear a disposable face mask and gloves when you touch or have contact with the patient’s blood, stool or body fluids, such as saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit and urine.
    --Throw out disposable face masks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse.
    --When removing personal protective equipment, first remove and dispose of gloves. Then, immediately clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Next, remove and dispose of face mask and immediately clean your hands again with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid sharing household items with the patient. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly.
    -- Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool or body fluids on them.
    -- Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands immediately after removing your gloves.
    -- Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, using a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label. 
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them.
    -- Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product. 
  • Place all used disposable gloves, face masks and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Use soap and water or an alcohol-bases sanitizer to clean your hands immediately after handling these items. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. 
  • Discuss any additional questions with your state or local health department. 

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Visit STPH.org/COVID-19  for the latest information on coronavirus in St. Tammany Parish.