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Caring for Someone with COVID-19 at Home

In most cases, you can care for someone with COVID-19 at home. It’s important to: 

  • Treat symptoms according to doctor’s instructions.
  • Watch for signs of worsening illness.
  • Prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others.
Home isolation means that a patient has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and is being cared for at home. Patients should stay at home and be isolated from others until symptoms have improved and they are no longer contagious.

How should I care for someone with COVID-19 at home?

  • Know what symptoms to expect. Symptoms of COVID-19 may include:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Runny nose
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Body aches
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
    • Decrease sense of smell and/or taste
  • Make sure the patient drinks plenty of fluids and stays hydrated.
  • Encourage the patient to rest.
  • Treat symptoms using over-the-counter medicines as recommended by your doctor.
  • Monitor symptoms, and watch for emergency warning signs:
    • Trouble breathing
    • Pain or pressure in the chest that will not stop
    • Confusion or lethargy
    • Lips or face turning blue

Talk to your doctor about any symptoms that worry you. This list includes some of the more common warning signs. There may be others.

What should I do if someone at home develops severe COVID-19 symptoms?

In a medical emergency, call 911. Be sure to let the dispatch personnel and responders know that the patient has COVID-19.

What precautions should I take caring for someone with COVID-19 at home?

Keep the patient away from other people to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.

  • Have the patient stay in a separate room and away from other family members as much as possible.
  • Have the patient wear a face mask when around other people. Do not put face masks on children under the age of 2.
  • Do not allow visitors into your home.
  • Limit the number of family members who care for the patient. Try to have one healthy caregiver provide care if possible.
  • The family caregiver should wear a mask for all care activities and interactions. It is best if both the family member and patient wear a mask. Limit contact as much as possible. If the mask gets wet or dirty, replace immediately with a clean, dry mask.
  • Keep the door to the patient’s room closed.
  • If possible, designate a bathroom to be used only by the patient.
  • Do not allow the patient to use common living, kitchen, or dining areas. If the patient must use common areas, all family members should wear a mask. 
What is the proper way to wear a mask? Loop around both ears and cover from the top of your nose to underneath your chin. The mask should cover your nose and mouth.

Clean household items and surfaces, especially those used by the patient.

  • Use a disinfectant cleaner to kill germs. Pay extra attention to high-touch surfaces like:
    • Phones
    • Remotes
    • Doorknobs
  • Do not share personal items or electronic devices with the patient.
  • Bring food and drinks to the patient. Make sure the patient does not touch shared food containers or kitchen items.
  • Wash dishes in hot water or clean in the dishwasher.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly in the warmest temperature recommended and dry completely.
  • Take extra care when cleaning patient areas and items the patient uses:
    • Wear a disposable mask and gloves any time you might handle patient body fluids, including tissues or diapers.
    • Immediately wash clothes or bedding if they have body fluids on them.
    • Hold the dirty linens away from your body. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds right after removing your gloves. Follow the clothing label instructions, using the warmest temperature recommended.
    • Do not share towels or blankets.
  • Keep a lined trash can for patient use. Place all disposable gloves and masks in a garbage can with a liner. Put used tissues directly in the trash can.
  • Always use gloves when taking out the trash and changing the liner. Wash your hands immediately after removing the gloves.
  • If disposable gloves are not available, use clean kitchen gloves or anything that can put a clean physical barrier between your body and the patient’s used items.
Wear a disposable mask and gloves any time you might handle patient body fluids, including tissues or diapers.

Wear a disposable mask and gloves any time you might handle patient body fluids, including tissues or diapers.

Immediately wash clothes or bedding if they have body fluids on them.

Immediately wash clothes or bedding if they have body fluids on them.

What should I do if someone else develops COVID-19 symptoms?

Contact your primary care provider or pediatrician to let them know someone in the house has COVID-19. Ask about testing for other family members, too. 

Supply checklist for COVID-19 home care

  • Face masks
  • Disposable gloves
  • Hand soap
  • Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Thermometer
  • Over the counter fever-reducing medicine
  • Tissues
  • Disposable paper towels
  • Trash can with liner
  • Regular dish soap
  • Regular laundry detergent
  • Household cleaner and disinfectant

When should I end quarantine or isolation for COVID-19?

You can find the most up-to-date guidance about quarantine and isolation on the CDC’s website.

Reviewed: January 2022

Make sure that all family members take steps to prevent infection inside and outside the home.

  • Check the quarantine and isolation guidelines from the CDC. They vary depending on your situation and vaccination status.
  • Wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose.
  • Practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Increase ventilation and air flow in common rooms in the home.