Before committing to be the caregiver for someone who is sick with the coronavirus or who is recovering in your home, healthcare providers suggest consulting with your doctor for information about also monitoring your health. According to the Center for Disease Control, you or your household members are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications if you have underlining health issues including autoimmune diseases, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, or heart disease. Be mindful that the caregiver should not be someone who is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
As you care for a person who is sick or recovering from COVID, you should:
Remember COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets which are created when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes.
Create an emergency contact list of family, neighbors, friends, neighbors, health care providers, co-workers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.
Be sure to track and monitor your own health for COVID-19 symptoms. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Trouble breathing is a more serious warning sign that you need medical attention. Use CDC’s self-checker tool at www.cdc.gov to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. Practice everyday preventive actions: clean hands often, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose with unwashed hands, frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.
Wear a cloth face covering when caring for a person who is sick even though it is still unknown how well the cloth face covering protects healthy people from breathing in the virus.
Wear disposable gloves when you touch or have contact with blood, stool, or body fluids, and when handling dirty laundry. Throw gloves into a lined trash can. If possible, dedicate a lined trash can for the person who is sick.
Use a separate bedroom and bathroom: If possible, have the person who is sick stay in their own “sick room” or area and away from others. If possible, have the person who is sick use a separate bathroom. If they feel up to it, the person who is sick can clean their own space. Give the person who is sick personal cleaning supplies such as tissues, paper towels, cleaners, and EPA-registered disinfectants. If sharing a bathroom: the caregiver and household member should wait as long as possible before entering the bathroom and clean and disinfect the bathroom before use. If you have to share space, make sure the room has good air flow. Open the window and turn on a fan (if possible) to increase air circulation. Improving ventilation helps remove respiratory droplets from the air.
Avoid having visitors especially limit visits by people who are at higher risk for severe illness.
Eat in separate rooms or areas. Stay separated: The person who is sick should eat (or be fed) in their room, if possible.
Avoid sharing personal items Wash dishes and utensils using gloves and hot water: Handle any dishes, cups/glasses, or silverware used by the person who is sick with gloves. Wash them with soap and hot water or in a dishwasher. Clean hands after taking off gloves or handling used items. Do not share electronics with the person who is sick.
Wear a mask. The person who is sick should wear a cloth face covering when they are around other people. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is not able to remove the covering without help.
Wash dirty laundry and linen. Do not shake dirty laundry. Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people’s items. Wash items according to the label instructions. Use the warmest water setting, Dry laundry, on hot, completely. Clean and disinfect clothes hampers. Remove gloves and wash hands right away. Place used disposable gloves and other contaminated items in a lined trash can. ℜ
ξ By Zenobia Reed
The Drum Contributing Writer