By Carol M. Pate Ed.D
At Envision2bWell, Inc., we are mission driven to provide health and wellness information and data. As COVID-19 makes its way around the world and through communities, it’s incumbent on all of us to understand the terminology being bandied around by experts, stay calm, and take the necessary precautions for the welfare and safety of you and your family.
We’ve compiled information from several sources, most importantly from the CDC to help you be informed and prepared. Please take a moment to read, copy and print the following and Envision Well.
Self-Quarantine. A term we are hearing repeatedly these days on the news and from healthcare professionals regarding COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak. What does quarantine mean and how can we prepare for it?
Quarantines are designed to keep people who are not diagnosed with a contagious disease/virus away from others who either have the disease or are suspected of having been infected.
Quarantine is a specific medical and governmental term that says ‘anyone placed in quarantine are not allowed outside the parameters without considerable repercussions.’ In short, isolation/quarantine status for public health purposes may be voluntary or may be compelled by federal, state, or local public health order. If quarantine is compelled by law, one could be jailed for disobeying.
What does the coronavirus COVID-19 self-quarantine mean?
The Center for Disease Control has posted the following guidelines to plan and prepare for voluntarily self-quarantine or are placed in quarantine by a health/governmental official.
As a family, you can plan and make decisions now that will protect you and your family if it becomes necessary in your community during today’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Stage 1 is to Plan:
Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan. Meet with household members, other relatives, and friends to discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community and what the needs of each person will be.
Identify ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications. There is limited information about who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 illness. From the data that are available for COVID-19 patients, and from data for related coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, it is possible that older adults and persons who have underlying chronic medical conditions may be at risk for more serious complications.
CDC has recommended actions to help keep people at high risk for complications healthy if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community.
Get to know your neighbors. Talk with your neighbors about emergency planning. If your neighborhood has a website or social media page, consider joining it to maintain access to neighbors, information, and resources.
Identify aid organizations in your community. Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, health care services, support, and resources. Consider including organizations that provide mental health or counseling services, food, and other supplies.
Create an emergency contact list. Ensure your household has a current list of emergency contacts for family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.
Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions
Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
- If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Productspdf iconexternal icon. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
Plan for the recommended 14-day quarantine at home.
If you’re quarantined at home for 2 weeks, there are basic foods and other supplies you’ll want to stock up on, including dry and canned goods, household supplies, and a 30-day supply of prescription medications. Experts from several websites recommend:
- Store a 2week supply of water and food.
- Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables, dry and canned goods and even some chocolate or other tasty treats to help with the isolation.
- Check your regular prescription drugs to ensure you have a 14-30 day supply at home.
- Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
- Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
If one of your family/household members is positive for the coronavirus they should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath).
Further CDC recommendations include:
Close contacts/family members should also follow these recommendations:
- Make sure that you understand and can help the family/household member their healthcare provider’s instructions for medication(s) and care. If there isn’t a 14-day amount of food or other supplies available, contact outside family, friends, or neighbors to purchase the items and leave them on the doorstep or other close place. Items to be purchased would also include gloves in case a family member is identified to have the virus.
- Monitor the symptoms. If the family member is getting sicker, call his or her healthcare provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected. Ask the healthcare provider to call the local or state health department for additional guidance. If the patient has a medical emergency and you need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that the patient has, or is being evaluated for COVID-19.
- Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the ill family member as much as possible. Other household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available. If not, make sure bathroom is clean regularly to stop the spread of the virus.
- Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
- Household members who are well should care for any pets in the home, or have others care for the pets if necessary.
- Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.
- Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- The family member that is ill should if possible, wear a facemask. If s/he is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), you, as the caregiver, should wear a mask when you are in the same room.
- Wear a disposable facemask and gloves when you touch or have contact with the patient’s blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit, urine.
- Throw out disposable facemasks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse.
- When removing personal protective equipment, 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.
- You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly (see below “Wash laundry thoroughly”).
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
- Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
- 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 or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.
- Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, using 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 or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after handling these items. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Discuss any additional questions with your state or local health department or healthcare provider. Check available hours when contacting your local health department.