Coronavirus Home Guide

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Updated: 5.11.20

This is a challenging moment for the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought tragedy to hundreds of thousands of families, and heavily impacted many more. Our medical systems have been pushed to their limits, and our economies have suffered sudden, drastic changes. As we comfort the sick, protect the healthy, and mourn for those we have lost, we can all take actions to improve outcomes for our loved ones, our neighbors, and ourselves.

We update this guide regularly to reflect ongoing coverage, actionable advice, and reliable resources to help us all stay safe, informed, and supported. We wish you and your families good health, good luck, and good cheer in this difficult time.

Face Masks

At any given time, as many as 50% of people with the new coronavirus have no symptoms at all. For that reason, the United States Centers for Disease Control now recommends that everyone wears face masks in any public setting to slow the spread of the virus.

The main point of wearing even a basic face covering is to prevent yourself from sharing the virus when you don't yet know that you have it. That's why even a simple home made mask is better than nothing.

You can make your own cloth face masks to help—the most effective materials are thick and durable, like quilted cotton. Clean your face coverings regularly to keep them safe.

Even high quality face masks can't offer perfect protection. Always stay distant from other people in public whenever possible.

Social Distancing, Sheltering in Place, and Quarantine

As the situation unfolds, the safest thing to do is minimize your interactions with people outside your home. Limit trips to necessities only, and wear a mask or face cover when you go out in public.

If you can work from home, do so. If you can't, take precautions in your interactions with others—try to remain six feet apart from those nearby, wash your hands frequently, and refrain from touching your face and hair as much as possible.

If you're feeling ill, stay home. Try to maintain distance from others in the living space—use a spare bedroom and bathroom if you can. If anyone in your home is sick, the whole family (or other group of cohabitants) should institute a quarantine together for at least 14 days.

It's tough to do, but try to practice distancing from your pets, too. They can carry the droplets by which the virus moves from person to person.

hands washing with bar soap

Home Cleaning

Surfaces that get touched often should be cleaned each day. This includes countertops, cookware, doorknobs, sinks, toilets, railings, light switches, remote controls and furniture.

Wearing gloves if possible, give these high-touch surfaces a gentle wash with soap and water, then take another pass with antimicrobial disinfectant wipes or spray if you have them.

If you run low on cleaning products, you may be able to make your own sanitizer and soap from raw ingredients.

We're still learning about how long COVID19 lasts on surfaces, but one study suggests the range may stretch from hours on some materials, like copper and aluminum, to at least several days on others, like glass, wood, plastic, and metal.

Home Stocking

Without hoarding unnecessarily large stashes, it's a good idea to stock up on some staples. Dried beans and rice make a good starting point. Canned fish, quinoa, oats, and pasta are good, too. If you have access to frozen goods, pick some up to keep greens like spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts in your diet when fresh options are unavailable.

dried food goods in glass jars

Many supermarkets and even online retailers are experiencing limited supplies right now, but as the initial surge fades, more goods will become available. Stay calm and work with what you have. If you don't have all the supplies or emergency gear you need, take a moment when you can to fill in those gaps.

Keep an eye out ahead of time for shortages in other essential areas like cleaning and hygiene products—it might take a few days to get something you could usually dash out and buy quickly.

Safety Note: If possible, secure a one to three month supply of any needed medications.

Coronavirus Home Care

Call a Doctor

If someone in your home is sick, contact their health provider immediately and follow all advice rigorously. If the person's symptoms are mild, their doctor will likely advise them to stay home. If their symptoms are severe, the person may need hospital care.

Socially Separate

Get any folks who are under the weather set up comfortably in their own room as much as possible, and try not to share a bathroom or other common spaces with them. Limit or prevent any visitors, avoid shared contact with household goods, and keep pets separate from anyone experiencing symptoms.

If they can, people experiencing symptoms should wear some kind of face mask to limit the chance of spread. A person's risk of spreading the virus by air appears to be low, provided no one spends sustained time within six feet of them, but it can still help reduce those chances if they cover their mouth and nose with a breathable but dense material, like furnace filters.

Keep Things Warm and (Relatively) Humid

If possible, keep the heat running on the higher side—the virus may be less likely to spread in warmer areas with higher humidity. Most viruses, though not all, struggle to survive in a humidity of 65%, but can last longer in lower or higher humidities.

Keep the Fluids Flowing

The CDC recommends keeping patients well hydrated to support their natural defenses.

Cut Out Smoking and Open Fires

This is a respiratory illness, so any activities that hurt the lungs can contribute to potentially dangerous outcomes.

Prefer Acetaminophen

Several health authorities initially recommended avoiding using ibuprofen for coronavirus symptoms, but the details of this issue are not yet clear. Tylenol (acetaminophen) should be safe for those who can take it, up to 3,000 mg/day.

Bed Rest and Natural Remedies

As of yet, there's no official treatment for COVID-19, so the main focus of care is keeping the airways clear and supporting the body's regular healing process. Anyone feeling sick should stay in bed when possible, drink plenty of fluids, and manage their symptoms as they would with a cold or flu.

Sleep on Sides or Stomach

Staying in one position all night is usually uncomfortable, but try to rotate between these instead of laying on your back. Some research suggests these positions may be better for the lungs, and postural drainage to address fluid buildup is medical practice.

Watch for Worsening Symptoms

If things take a turn for the worse, it may be critical to seek professional care. Pay close attention to coughing, fevers, and any shortness of breath, and seek immediate medical attention if you see emergency signs like trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips and face.

Reach Out

This is a tense time for the whole world. Get in contact with your family and friends and keep up those lines of communication. We'll all feel better, and be better able to help those with acute needs.

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