When Someone Is Sick With COVID-19

If someone is sick with COVID-19 in your household, it is important to know how to keep yourself and others safe, plus when and how to seek emergency help. 

What steps should you take if you think you are sick with COVID-19?

If you develop a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider for medical advice.

When someone is sick with COVID-19 or they suspect they are infected, they should take steps to help prevent the disease from spreading

Prevention when someone in your home is sick with COVID-19

Household members, intimate partners, and at-home caregivers may have close contact with a person who is sick with COVID-19.  These family members should monitor their health, and call their health care provider right away if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath). In addition to standard precautions in the household, CDC also recommends

  • As much as possible, household members should stay in another room or be separated from the person who is sick with COVID-19. Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
  • Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
  • Avoid sharing household items with someone who is sick with COVID-19. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly.
    • Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
    • Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Clean your hands (with soap and water) immediately after removing your gloves.
    • Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, use a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.
  • Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Clean your hands (with soap and water) immediately after handling these items. 
  • Someone who is sick with COVID-19 should wear a facemask when they are around other people unless it causes trouble with breathing. In that case, the caregiver should wear a mask. 
  • Caregivers should wear a disposable facemask and gloves whenever they touch or have contact with the bodily fluids of someone with is sick with COVID-19.
    • Throw out disposable facemasks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse.
    • First, remove and dispose of gloves. Then, immediately clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Next, remove and dispose of facemask, and immediately clean your hands again with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.

Warning signs of serious illness

Watch for emergency warning signs* for serious illness from COVID-19. Get medical attention immediately for:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you are or think you might be sick with COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before medical help arrives.

Staying up-to-date on COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly changing. Aspects of the content may have changed since it was published. To stay abreast of the situation, follow these trusted resources for the latest information: