Mar 19, 2020 11:30 AM

Author: University of Utah Health Communications

COVID-19 home care

This information was accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, some information may have changed since the original publication date. More accurate information is now available.

Your sister is calling, so you pick up. She is crying. She thinks she has the coronavirus (COVID-19). After calming her down, you find out that she called her doctor and they refused to test her. What do you do?

Who Gets Tested

Patients with the following symptoms can be tested if they suspect they have COVID-19:

  • history of fever (a temperature greater than 100° F/ 37.8° C),
  • new/worsening cough,
  • shortness of breath,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • sore throat,
  • generally feeling ill,
  • chills,
  • muscle pain/aches, or
  • decreased sense of smell or taste.

“If you have the symptoms of COVID-19—cough, fever, shortness of breath—it is incredibly important to remember not to panic,” says Thomas Miller, MD, chief medical officer at University of Utah Health. “The majority of patients will recover at home, and it is critically important to self-isolate to prevent passing the infection on to other family members or co-workers.”

Home Isolation

For most people who contract COVID-19, the effects will be mild. Symptoms include low-grade fever (<100.0 F/37.8 C) and cough. If your symptoms are manageable, stay home and self-isolate.

While at home, you should stay in a specific room away from family. Restrict outside activities, except for receiving medical care. Avoid work, school, or public areas. Do not use public transportation. Wipe off commonly used surface areas with a disinfectant spray or cloth. Avoid sharing personal items with other people in your household, like dishes, towels, toiletries, and bedding. Cough into your elbow and sneeze with a tissue. If you have access to face masks, wear them around other people and before entering a health care facility. Remember, those who are healthy do not need face masks.

Home Care for COVID-19

Home care for COVID-19 aims to manage symptoms and reduce passing the infection to other family, friends, and neighbors. If you have mild symptoms of COVID-19, take the following steps:

  • Get rest and stay hydrated.
  • Treat your symptoms:
    • Take over-the-counter medications for cough and fever.
    • Use a humidifier or a sit in a steam-filled bathroom to help with breathing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Call any health care provider before any appointment and tell them your symptoms.
  • Check in with friends and family by phone.

Ending Home Isolation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, home isolation can end for individuals who have not been tested when the person has met the following qualifications:

  • Three days have passed without a fever that has not been reduced with the aid of fever-reducing medications; and
  • Other symptoms, like cough and shortness of breath, have improved; and
  • At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared

When to Get Help

If you have a chronic medical condition or develop high or persistent fever or difficulty breathing, you should contact your physician, urgent care, or emergency department for further instructions. For medical emergencies, call 911. Notify the dispatch personnel that you may have COVID-19.

At University of Utah Health, we ask patients to call 801-587-0712 or 844-745-9325 before visiting the hospital. The state of Utah also has a Utah COVID-19 Information Line set up at 1-800-456-7707.

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