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Most patients with COVID-19 will be cared for at home. During this time, it is important to:
Talk to your doctor about any symptoms that worry you. This list includes some of the more common warning signs. There may be others. In a medical emergency, call 911. Be sure to let the dispatch personnel and responders know that the patient has COVID-19.
Keep the patient away from other people to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Clean household items and surfaces, especially those used by the patient.
Make sure that all family members take steps to prevent infection inside and outside the home.
Contact your primary care provider or pediatrician to let them know someone in the house has COVID-19. Ask what you should do if you or somebody else in the family develops symptoms of COVID-19. If you need to medical care, call medical clinic or hospital ahead of time for specific instructions. In a medical emergency, call 911. Be sure to let the dispatch personnel and responders know that the patient has COVID-19.
Create an emergency contact list. Include the names and phone numbers for your doctor, hospital, and local public health department. Also be sure to include others you might need to notify such as family members, friends, neighbors, school, and work contacts.
The time it takes to recover from COVID-19 varies from person to person. Someone with mild illness may recover in 1-2 weeks. Recovery from severe illness may take much longer. It is important to stay in isolation and away from others to avoid spreading the virus.
In general, home isolation can end if:
Some patients may have cough that lingers even after they are well and should check with their doctor to see if they can be around others. Once they are well, most people who had mild to moderate COVID-19 do not need additional testing before ending isolation.
Patients who had severe COVID-19 or who are immunocompromised may need additional testing before being around others.
Remember, even though a patient may feel better, it may take a while to regain energy and strength to return to normal activities.
All household members should continue self-quarantine for 14 days after the patient stops having symptoms. If symptoms of COVID-19 develop, contact your health care provider.
Home isolation means that a person has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and is being cared for at home. During isolation, patients should stay home and separate themselves from others. Patients should isolate until symptoms have improved and they are no longer contagious. During this time, it is important to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. This is especially important if other household members are at risk for serious illness.
Quarantine means that a person has had a close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and is staying away from other people. Quarantine is important after exposure to COVID-19 because people can spread the virus even when they are not having symptoms. Family or household members of someone with COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last close contact with the patient or 14 days after the patient ends isolation. Learn more about when to quarantine.
Close contact means that you have been within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 and the contact lasts for a period of time. The CDC uses a time guideline of a total of 15 minutes over a 24 hour period (for example, three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). For community or household exposure, it is considered contact whether or not face masks were used.
The risk period of exposure through a close contact starts 2 days before the person’s symptoms started or 2 days before a positive test and continues until the person meets criteria to end home isolation.
Reviewed: November 2020