Taking Precautions at Home

Caring for someone at home

Most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have only mild illness and should recover at home.* Care at home can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect people who are at risk for getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

  • If you are caring for someone at home, monitor for emergency signs, prevent the spread of germs, treat symptoms, and carefully consider when to end home isolation.
  • You and the person you should wear a mask.
  • Harvard Medical School recommends caregivers use a separate bedroom while the infected person is sick. The recommended self-quarantine time is at least 14 days.
  • In addition to their own bedroom, Harvard is also recommending the sick person have their own designated bathroom so no one else in the house is exposed to contaminated surfaces.
  • Keep the room window at least partially open or have air conditioning to permit fresh air to enter the room.
  • Always notify the person’s healthcare provider of the patient’s COVID-19 and ask for tips.

*Note: Older adults and people of any age with certain serious underlying medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness and should seek care as soon as symptoms start.


How long does the Coronavirus last in the air and on surfaces?

Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

It is unknown how long the air inside a room occupied by someone with confirmed COVID-19 remains potentially infectious. Facilities will need to consider factors such as the size of the room and the ventilation system design
(including flowrate [air changes per hour] and location of supply and exhaust vents) when deciding how long to close off rooms or areas used by ill persons before beginning disinfection. Taking measures to improve ventilation in an area or room where someone was ill or suspected to be ill with COVID-19 will help shorten the time it takes respiratory droplets to be removed from the air.


Clean and disinfect:

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

How to handle household pets:

  • Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
  • Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
  • Take pets to the veterinarian regularly and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.

How to protect pets if you are sick:

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

Receiving mail and packages:

  • Avoid direct contact with the delivery person.
  • Leave the package outside for a few hours and/or spray it with aerosol disinfectant before handling.
  • Dispose of all outer packaging immediately.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds or more.
  • Disinfect any high-touch surfaces you had contact with after handling.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your mouth, eyes and nose.