While the current pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19 places people with chronic health conditions at greater risk, it leaves even greater numbers of healthy people in confusion. Media tells us to practice “social distancing,” but what does that mean?

Do you need to lock yourself away from the rest of the world indefinitely?

If You and Your Household are Healthy

If neither you, nor anyone in your household is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms – that is, fever, runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath, etc. – it’s still a good idea to limit your interactions with others, but you have more flexibility.

Per the latest White House guidelines to “slow the spread,” those without symptoms should avoid social gatherings in groups of 10 or more people. Because we don't yet know everything about the virus, even if you are healthy, you should act as though you might be a carrier and limit your contact with the general public. However, you can still go outside, take your dog for a walk, or even go to the store if needed.

But because we don't yet know everything about the virus, even if you are healthy, you should act as though you might be a carrier and limit your contact with the general public. Stay home as much as possible. When you absolutely have to go out, avoid close contact with others, and follow the common-sense guidelines we featured in our previous blog post about COVID-19, such as washing your hands, disinfecting your surroundings, avoiding those who are sick, etc.

If You or Someone in Your Household is Sick

If you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms – that is, fever, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, nausea, vomiting, etc. – you should self-quarantine and call your doctor for instructions. Your doctor will probably tell you to stay home until you are symptom-free for at least 24 hours – without fever reducing medication, antihistamines or cough suppressants.

Those who have coronavirus should also quarantine themselves away from other members of the household by staying in one room, and using a different bathroom if available.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued these guidelines for those who have COVID-19, and for those who live with someone who does. It’s important for those individuals to take even more care to prevent spreading the virus. For example, washing their hands frequently, disinfecting often-used surfaces and items, laundering their clothing, bedsheets and towels, etc.

If you are a caregiver who is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should closely monitor your own symptoms and avoid contact with others.

If someone in your home is a COVID-19 patient, but they are quarantined in another room and you don’t have close contact, you should still monitor your symptoms and limit your contact with others, using your best discretion.

Stress and Coping

Whatever your situation, it may be a stressful and confusing time for you and your family. We encourage you to take some time to focus on self care:
  • Be sure that you are continuing to eat a balanced diet and get enough exercise and sleep.
  • If you have children, reassure them that all is well.
  • Remember that everyone exhibits stress differently. Be patient with those who are behaving in unusual ways. Ask how you can best help them.
  • Connect with others remotely - Skype or talk on the phone with friends and family. Share your experiences and how you’re feeling. 
  • Do things you enjoy - play games, watch movies, read books, meditate, etc.
  • Take the time to do things at home that you've wanted or needed to do for awhile but just haven't had time!
  • Stay informed, but take an occasional break from the news cycle.
Here are some additional guidelines for managing stress and anxiety about this outbreak.

Remember that we’re all doing our part and will get through this together!

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