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Safely Care for Someone Who Has Covid-19


What do I need to know about how to care for someone who has COVID-19?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads quickly and easily. A person who has COVID-19 may be able to pass the virus to others during and after recovery. The virus can be passed starting 2 days before symptoms begin or before a positive test if symptoms never begin. The virus is mainly spread in droplets that form when a person talks, coughs, or sneezes. The droplets can also float in the air or land on surfaces and objects. Follow directions from healthcare providers so you safely care for a person who is recovering from COVID-19 at home.

How can I safely care for the person?

If the person lives in another home, arrange for a time to give care. Remember to bring a few pairs of disposable gloves and a face covering. The person's healthcare provider may give you specific instructions to follow. The following are general guidelines:

  • Wash your hands often. Wash before and after you go into the person's home, area, or room. Use soap and running water as often as possible. Rub your soapy hands together for at least 20 seconds before you rinse. Dry your hands with a clean towel or a paper towel. Do not share towels with the person. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Remind the person to wash his or her hands or use hand sanitizer often.
  • Put on a face covering (mask) and make sure the person is also wearing one before you go in. Use a disposable non-medical mask, or make a cloth covering with at least 2 layers. Cover your mouth and your nose. Securely fasten it under your chin and on the sides of your face. Do not wear a plastic face shield instead of a covering. You can use both together for extra protection.
    How to Wear a Face Covering (Mask)
  • Help the person so he or she does not expose others to the virus. You will also help the person rest by doing housework, cooking meals, and running errands for him or her. Take care of the person's pets. Some animals, including pets, have been infected with the virus. It is best for the person not to care for pets until more is known. Make sure the person drinks extra liquids and eats healthy foods. Keep his or her healthcare provider's contact information where you can easily find it. Contact the provider if you notice a symptom is getting worse. The provider will tell you what to do.
  • Do not allow others to go near the person. Unless the person lives alone, it is best for him or her to stay in a separate room or area of the home. The person should have his or her own dishes and eating utensils. Items the person uses need to be cleaned separately. No one should go into the person's home or area unless it is necessary. Keep the room's door shut unless you need to go in or out. Have others call, video chat, or e-mail the person if he or she is feeling well enough. The person may feel lonely if he or she is kept separate for a long period of time. Safe communication can help him or her stay connected to family and friends.
  • Make sure the person's room has good air flow. You may be able to open the window if the weather allows. An air conditioner can also be turned on to help air move.
  • Wear gloves and a face covering while you give care and clean. Clean high-touch surfaces and objects often. Gather used laundry or bedding. Wash and dry items on the warmest settings the fabric allows. Wash dishes and silverware in hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.
  • Discard items in a lined trash can with a lid, if possible. When you need to empty the trash, close the open end of the lining and tie it closed. This helps prevent items the virus is on from spilling out of the trash. Remove your gloves and throw them away. Wash your hands.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. You will need to quarantine while you are caring for the person. You should also be tested, even if you do not develop symptoms of COVID-19. These measures will help protect others you are around while you are giving care. Your provider will give you instructions for quarantining and testing. It is important to stay home if you are waiting for a testing appointment or for test results. Even if you do not have symptoms, you can pass the virus to others.

What else can I do to prevent infection?

Prevent COVID-19 Infection
  • Cover sneezes and coughs. Turn your face away and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Throw the tissue away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Then wash your hands well with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Teach children how to cover a cough or sneeze.
  • Make a habit of not touching your face. If you get the virus on your hands, you can transfer it to your eyes, nose, or mouth and become infected. You can also transfer it to objects, surfaces, or people. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
  • Follow worldwide, national, and local social distancing guidelines. Social distancing means avoiding close physical contact (6 feet, or 2 meters) so the virus cannot spread from one person to another. Gatherings or crowds of 10 or more individuals can cause the virus to spread. Avoid places such as parks, beaches, sporting events, and tourist attractions. For events such as parties, holiday meals, religious services, and conferences, attend virtually (on a computer), if possible.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects in your home often. Use disinfecting wipes, or make a solution of 4 teaspoons of bleach in 1 quart (4 cups) of water.
  • Ask about vaccines you may need. A COVID-19 vaccine is a shot given to help prevent infection caused by the novel coronavirus. Your healthcare provider can give you more information about when a vaccine may be available to you. Get the influenza (flu) vaccine as soon as recommended each year, usually starting in September or October. Get the pneumonia vaccine if recommended.

Where can I find more information?

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

What should I do if I think I or someone in my home may be infected?

Do the following to protect others:

  • If emergency care is needed, tell the operator about the possible infection, or call ahead and tell the emergency department.
  • Call a healthcare provider for instructions if symptoms are mild. Anyone who may be infected should not arrive without calling first. The provider will need to protect staff members and other patients.
  • The person who may be infected needs to wear a face covering while getting medical care. This will help lower the risk of infecting others. Coverings are not used for anyone who is younger than 2 years, has breathing problems, or cannot remove it. The provider can give you instructions for anyone who cannot wear a covering.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or an emergency department if:

  • The person has trouble breathing or shortness of breath at rest.
  • The person has chest pain or pressure that lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • The person becomes confused or hard to wake.
  • The person's lips or face are blue.
  • The person has a fever of 104°F (40°C) or higher.

When should I call a doctor?

  • The person has any new or worsening symptoms.
  • You develop any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 while you are caring for the person.
  • You think you or someone in your home has become infected.
  • You have any questions or concerns.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.