Prepare now to care for COVID-19 positive loved ones at home


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s not of question of “if,” but “when” COVID-19 infections will continue to spread as the governors of Virginia and North Carolina lift restrictions.

State health officials say there’s no need to wait; take steps now to prepare your home in the event you or a loved one contracts the coronavirus.

“We’re going to have more exposure; there’s just no way around it,” said Dr. Steve Julian, director of the Peninsula Health District.

Most coronavirus victims will recover, and many can recover at home with a doctor’s approval.

To prepare for at-home care, Julian says take a few tips from hospitals and prepare an isolation area. A bedroom with an attached bathroom is ideal so that your loved one is not sharing a bathroom with others. Then, prepare a cart or table with supplies such as a robe to wear for entering the infected person’s room, masks, hand sanitizer, eye protection, disinfectant and gloves.

“Usually outside of an isolation room you will note there is an isolation cart; it has all the supplies one would need immediately to take care of a patient,” Julian said.

Julian says care providers are less likely to cross-contaminate the rest of your house when an isolation station is used. Other recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include storing contaminated laundry in plastic bags and avoiding shaking the clothing. Use a high setting on your dryer and dry clothes completely. Use disposables for food service, and keep your patient hydrated.

“One of the key things that can happen in a viral illness is one just doesn’t feel like eating or drinking fluids. It is extremely important to keep the person hydrated,” said Julian.

It’s also critical family members know when to rely on doctors and hospitals.

“That is so important, especially for people who are in a compromised setting — persons with diabetes, hypertension congestive heart failure, immunosuppression from some medications or chronic disease — or the very old or the very young. These persons have to be careful at home. Consult with your doctor,” said Julian.

According to CDC guidelines, an infected person must be fever- and symptom-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for 72 hours before the person is released from isolation.

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