When choosing to stay home

Follow these step to recover at home and prevent spreading illness to others.

Step 1: Stay home, keep distance from others

If you have mild respiratory symptoms such as a fever or cough, it’s important to stay home and away from other members of your household. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

If you are sick, stay home until:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

It’s important to notify those living in the same household or with whom you’ve had close contact since developing symptoms. It's also recommended they isolate for 14 days after first exposure.

Step 2: Take steps to protect others

Continue good everyday hygiene habits like:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap & water isn’t available
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash - wash hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

As the outbreak becomes more widespread it’s even more important to take self-isolation and social distancing seriously, even with other people in your home. For more information please visit the CDC website.

Step 3: Symptoms to watch & warning signs

According to the CDC, reported illnesses from people with confirmed COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

Common Symptoms:

The typical symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms are similar to what you might experience with more common viral infections, such as colds and the flu.

Warning Signs:

People who are at higher risk for getting very sick from this illness include people older than age 60 and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes or lung diseases.

When to seek in-person care

Seek in-person care at an urgent care or emergency room immediately if you experience:

  • Worsening shortness of breath
  • Worsening wheezing
  • Always call ahead to the urgent care for directions on where to go and what to do when you arrive.

When to call or seek online care

Call your clinic or online care provider if you experience:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • High fevers
  • Worsening cough
  • Worsening or persistent sore throat

Step 4: Symptom relief at home

The next priority is to relieve your discomfort while watching for any worsening symptoms. Because COVID-19 is a viral infection, an antibiotic won’t soothe or treat the virus. The following advice should help you start feeling better in the next 24 hours.

For a fever or a sore throat:

Use acetaminophen to help relieve pain and to reduce any fever. Follow the package instructions and avoid stomach upset by taking with food or milk.
Over the counter throat lozenges or antiseptic sprays can also provide pain relief.

For a bothersome cough:

A cough expectorant will thin mucus in your chest to make it easier to cough up. It’s important to allow your body to cough up mucus to get better. Use over the counter cough medications that contains guaifenesin. A common brand is Mucinex®.
Use a cough suppressant only when you need a rest or break from your cough. Use an over the counter cough medication which contains dextromethorphan such as Delsym ®.

For sinus congestion or pain:

Use acetaminophen to help relieve pain and to reduce any fever. Follow the package instructions and avoid stomach upset by taking with food or milk.
Take an expectorant where guaifenesin is the only active ingredient for 3 days. Follow package instructions to thin mucus and promote drainage. A common brand is Mucinex®. Avoid multi-symptom versions (those with letters) like Mucinex DM®.

Step 5: Stay hydrated

While you’re sick, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drinking water can help to thin mucus and reduce congestion. A general rule of thumb is to drink 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day and look for your urine to be clear to light yellow – dark yellow means drink more water.