Coronavirus (COVID-19): Home Care & Precautions
Doctors might recommend home care if someone in your family:
- has coronavirus (COVID-19)
- was tested for COVID-19 and is waiting for the results
- has flu symptoms (like a fever, cough, and sore throat)
Anyone who is sick — even if they don't know for sure they have coronavirus (COVID-19) — should stay home unless they need medical care. This helps prevent the illness from spreading to other people.
What Should We Do at Home?
To protect others at home, someone who is sick should:
- As much as possible, keep away from other people and pets in your home.
- Wear a mask if they must be around other people. Masks shouldn't be worn by kids younger than 2 years old or anyone who can't take off a mask without help. For more about masks, check the CDC's guide.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash their hands right away. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- If possible, stay in a bedroom and use a bathroom separate from other people in the home.
- Use separate dishes, glasses, cups, and eating utensils and not share these with other household members. After use, run them through the dishwasher or wash with very hot soapy water.
- Use separate bedding and towels and not share these with other household members.
- If the person who is sick can't wear a mask, caregivers should wear one while they're in the same room.
- Make sure shared spaces in the home have good air flow. You can open a window or turn on an air filter or air conditioner.
- Do not allow visitors into your home. This includes children and adults.
- All household members should wash their hands well and often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Wash the sick person's clothing, bedding, and towels with detergent on the hottest temperature possible. These can be washed together with the rest of the household laundry. Wear gloves when handling their laundry, if possible. Wash your hands well after handling the laundry (even if you wore gloves).
- Every day, use a household cleaner or wipe to clean things that get touched a lot. These include doorknobs, light switches, toys, remote controls, sink handles, counters, and phones. Keep a sick child's toys separate from other toys, if possible.
To protect others in your community:
- The person who is sick should stay home unless they need medical care. This is called isolation.
- Other household members also might need to stay home if they are not fully vaccinated (or boosted, depending on age). This is called quarantine.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
If the person you're caring for seems to be getting sicker, call your doctor right away. Tell the doctor about their symptoms and whether they've been tested for COVID-19.
If they need to go to the doctor:
- The person should wear a mask.
- Keep tissues handy in case they need to cough or sneeze.
Go to the emergency room or call 911 if the person has trouble breathing, is confused, or is very drowsy.
What Else Should I Know?
If you're caring for someone who has COVID-19 or who has symptoms, keep taking these precautions until your doctor or local health department say it's safe to stop doing so. Also tell other people who may have been in close contact with the person who is infected. They can speak with their doctor or local health department about getting tested or quarantining.
The guidelines for how long to quarantine or isolate may differ from country to country, or may change over time as the virus changes or there’s new information about how it spreads. The CDC recently updated its recommendations for quarantine and isolation, but how and where they’re applied might vary.
To get the most updated and relevant information for your family, call your doctor’s office, your child’s school district, or your local health department. The CDC can help you find the health department in your area.