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COVID-19 Home Isolation For Ill Persons

COVID-19  Preparation in the home


What to do/prepare for in the home if you have someone with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing in your family and home. Approximately 80% of Iowans infected with COVID-19 will experience only a mild to moderate illness.  Most mildly ill Iowans do not need to go to their healthcare provider or be tested to confirm they have COVID-19. We need to preserve our supplies of personal protective equipment and testing supplies. If you are really ill and having difficulty breathing and need healthcare, call first. Your provider can assess whether you need to be seen in the office or if you can recover at home. Also, there may be options for you to talk to a medical provider from home using technology.

All sick Iowans must stay home and isolate themselves from others in their house.

 The rest of the household members must self-isolate from the public in their home for 14 days.

In preparation for an illness in your home you should have some supplies on hand such as a fever/pain reducer such as Tylenol or other” Over the Counter” medications you like to use when ill. Have a humidifier ready to use and plenty of clear liquids and other supplies. Plan how to obtain other medications or supplies by drive through or curbside delivery (without contact with other people) or having someone else bring groceries/supplies to your home and leave at the door. 

If possible isolate the ill person in a separate bedroom and also if possible a separate bathroom.  If there is a master suite with a bathroom or a basement room with a bathroom that can be kept closed off from the rest of the home, that would be good area to use as a “sick room”. Keep doors closed and disinfect all surfaces frequently during the day. One person should be designated to go into the “sick room” to bring in supplies, food, entertainment, etc and care for the ill person.  This should be an adult who is not at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. You may want to use a homemade mask, some gloves, and a robe or clothing covering that can be washed frequently. No one else should enter the room if possible. Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom and toys for children) clean by washing or wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

The designated caregiver should try to not come any closer than 6 feet from the ill person if possible and wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub frequently, including after every contact with the sick person or the person’s room or bathroom.  Use paper towels for drying hands after handwashing, or have separate cloth towels for each person in the household. For example, have different colored towels for each person.

Food can be brought in to the ill person on disposable plates etc. and disposed of in a plastic garbage bag in that room and tied up.  It is best if nothing comes back outside the room until the ill person gets better. Garbage bags can be tied up and brought immediately outside the home and disposed of if needed.  Laundry if needed to be brought outside the room should be rolled up and put in a plastic bag or laundry bag that can be washed with the soiled laundry. Do not shake out any dirty laundry to prevent distributing the virus.  Wash laundry on the hottest setting possible and dry on the warmest setting possible without harming the items. Caregivers should wash hands after handling trash or laundry. If using non-disposable plates and utensils be sure to wash them in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher on hot. 

You may want to think about using a HEPA air filter on your furnace. Room size HEPA air filters can be purchased for the sick room to help filter the circulating air.

Maintain good ventilation in common areas of the house such as keeping windows open in restrooms, kitchen, keep vent going in bathroom etc. as able considering outside weather.

Families in self isolation should not have direct contact with any animals (ie., dogs, cats, pigs, cattle, sheep and goats) out of abundance of caution.  Arrange for your pets to be cared for and housed outside of your home, if possible

The ill person must stay home and isolated until:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers ie. Tylenol, Ibuprofen etc.), AND

  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved), AND

  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

Sick rooms need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected when the ill person has recovered. Iowa Department of Health states that most commercially produced Disinfectants are effective against COVID-19 and can be used in the home.  You can also use a bleach solution made by mixing 

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or

  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

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