The increasing awareness of COVID-19 means that all of us are going to have to take extra precautions to help reduce the spread of this pandemic. Most medical experts, scientists, and other health professionals recommend that you self-quarantine – meaning isolate yourself in your house and never leave unless necessary – if you start showing symptoms or feel unwell. They also recommend that you isolate yourself if you come into contact with someone who is infected with coronavirus or shows symptoms associated with it.
Isolation is a highly effective way to slow the spread of the virus, as we’ve seen with past pandemics. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why we stopped the 2003 SARS outbreak. That’s the reason why doctors are recommending that you stay away from other people if you get the disease or start showing signs of symptoms. Experts recommend that you check in with your doctor to determine how long you should stay quarantined, but the standard guidance is that you isolate yourself for 14 days.
If we all practice self-isolation, we can help slow the spread of this disease. This is referred to as “flattening the curve”, meaning that we’re preventing everyone from contracting the disease at the same time and overburdening the health care system.
Quarantining yourself is a surprisingly complicated process that requires tons of self-monitoring and discipline. It also requires help from your spouse and other family members to ensure that you remain infection-free.
Links to resources mentioned in this article
- CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Amazon Prime – Subscription service offered by Amazon
- CouchBed – Couch that can be turned into a spare bed
- Hand sanitizer – Kills germs
Should you sleep by yourself to prevent coronavirus?
If you know or suspect that you have COVID-19, it’s important that you isolate yourself immediately. That means that you isolate yourself from larger society, but it also means that you avoid unnecessary contact with other family members living in the same house as you.
The CDC recommends that you stay in your room alone (if infected). Other family members should not enter the room, and if they do then they should cover their face with a mask when they enter the room.
This means that a healthy person shouldn’t share the same bedding as a sick person. If possible, the healthier person should sleep in a separate room if available or on a couch (a CouchBed might be a good idea). DO NOT share the same bed as a sick person.
Other steps you should follow when isolating yourself
- Stay Home – It should be obvious from the term “self-isolation” but it bears repeating. Stay home. Seriously. “Don’t go out if ill,” Tom Frieden, the former CDC director, wrote for Think Global Health on Tuesday. If you’re showing signs of coronavirus symptoms you shouldn’t leave your house unless it’s to obtain medical care. That means you should avoid public places like work, buses, taxis, stores, and schools. If possible have someone else deliver your groceries and other essentials. It might be boring, but this is a great time to catch up on podcasts or shows from Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
- Keep fluids from coughs and sneezes off of surfaces – Everyone already knows that you should sneeze or cough into a tissue or your closed elbow to stop the droplets from spreading. The same holds true during self-isolation. If possible you should wear a mask so you don’t spray particles every time you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a mask available, you should make sure that the people who live with you don’t enter the room you are in.
- Wash Hands – This is by far the simplest thing you can do to help prevent infection. If you have the virus on your hands and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth then you could get sick. If you are around someone who is sick it’s critically important that you wash your hands with soap and water (or at least hand sanitizer) for at least 20 seconds as often as possible.
- Disinfect “high-touch” surfaces – Doorknobs, drawers, toilets, keyboards, phones, counters, and tabletops are common high-touch surfaces that you should disinfect on a regular basis; according to the CDC. Many people overlook bathrooms; but they are the location that may have blood, stool, and other body substances that can transmit the virus.
If we all follow these steps we can greatly reduce the impact of this devastating virus. No one is safe, not even celebrities. Whether you think it’s a big deal or not, there are many vulnerable people in our population and we owe it to them to keep them safe from this disease.