AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — Since the majority of COVID-19 patients are not hospitalized, health care providers are urging families to have a plan ready if someone in the house tests positive.
Part of the preparation is deciding on a certain area of the home for the person to isolate in.
“You need to identify a place if you have the ability to get a bedroom with a bathroom that the patient can be in,” explained Dr. Charles Lerner, member of the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force.
If you do not have a spare bedroom and bathroom, it’s important for the family member to try to stay quarantined in a designated spot for the duration of the illness. Everyone else in the family should avoid the area at all times.
The next step is to plan how to care for the person while minimizing contact.
“For example, food is brought to the room with the door closed, you knock on the door and go away. The person opens the door takes in the food preferably on paper plates, if you can afford them, and when they’re through, put it into a garbage bag, which is then put into another garbage bag,” Dr. Lerner said. “And when you handle that, you handle that with gloves or you do hand hygiene immediately thereafter.”
If you have to enter the room, make sure both you and the infected family member are wearing some type of face mask.
“It can be a cloth mask. It can even be a bandana, if you don’t have anything available,” Dr. Lerner explained.
Dr. Todd Bell with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center explained it would be a good idea, if possible, to make sure the person has everything they need in their designated area.
“Have your own toiletries as well,” Dr. Bell said.
Dr. Bell said wiping down all surfaces the person has touched with a disinfectant is a must. Washing bed linens and clothes will also help with hygiene.
“When we wash the sheets and the clothes and things like that, we would want to wash those in hot water,” he said.
Both Dr. Bell and Dr. Lerner agree that the entire house needs to be cleaned on a consistent basis throughout the day, not just the area where the person is quarantined.
“If somebody else in the household become sick, they will be spreading the disease are capable of spreading the disease. for up to 48 hours before the onset of symptoms, and some estimates indicate that up to 50% of people who get infected never develop symptoms,” Dr. Lerner said.
“It’s not a bad idea to intermittently through the day, wipe down those high touch areas, things like doorknobs and faucet handles and countertops,” Dr. Bell said.
The cleaning should not stop when the person stops showing symptoms.
“You don’t come out of isolation until you have been free from fever without the use of drugs to lower your temperature for 48 hours and at least seven days after the onset of symptoms. Which means that by the time you’re you are coming out of isolation, hard surfaces In the room will probably be contaminated for another 24 hours,” Dr. Lerner explained.
Dr. Bell said if possible, it would be a good idea to shut the door of the room the person was quarantining in, and leave it closed for 24 hours.
“This is not a virus that can survive forever, outside the human body. And so if you just shut that door for a couple of days, when you come back then the virus that’s there on those hard surfaces and things like that is going to be dead. Once you wash your sheets and clothes and things like that, and the virus is no longer going to be a problem,” Dr. Bell added.