How does someone self-quarantine — especially now, when others have been ordered to stay in?

By Tom Bergeron
New Jersey | Mar 21, 2020 at 3:08 pm

The more severe social movements Gov. Phil Murphy ordered Saturday morning should help lessen the number of people who get COVID-19.

But what about the approximately 1,000 New Jersey residents who already have it — and the untold number who are in self-quarantine because they fear they may have it.

Self-isolation just got harder, now that Murphy has ordered all non-essential workers to stay home whenever possible and closed all non-essential retail businesses.

Earlier this week, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli offered guidelines for those self-isolating at home.

Among her thoughts:

  • Contact with others: A person who thinks they have symptoms should be in their own room, if possible. If they’re sharing a room, there should be distance between the inhabitants of the room. Patients who are symptomatic with moderate symptons are allowed to be home, but should try not be with anyone else in the home.
  • Food: Meals should be delivered carefully. They can be left outside a closed door to be picked up by the person who is in isolation.
  • Bathroom: If possible, a person who is symptomatic but does not need to be hospitalized should have their own bathroom. If a bathroom is shared, it should be cleaned after every use. Should a person have to, any waste that does not happen in the bathroom should be double-bagged before being disposed of.
  • Laundry: You can do the laundry with the disinfectants that you’re currently using, but be careful collecting the laundry.
  • Trash: Be careful in touching and disposing of trash.

Below are the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which can be found on its website.

Household members, intimate partners and caregivers in a non-health care setting may have close contact with a person with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or a person under investigation.

Close contacts should monitor their health; they should call their health care provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath). (See Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings.)

Close contacts should also follow these recommendations:

  • Make sure that you understand and can help the patient follow their health care provider’s instructions for medication(s) and care. You should help the patient with basic needs in the home and provide support for getting groceries, prescriptions and other personal needs.
  • Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his or her health care provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. This will help the health care provider’s office take steps to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected. Ask the health care 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 patient as much as possible. Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
  • Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
  • Household members should care for any pets in the home. Do not handle pets or other animals while sick. For more information, see COVID-19 and Animals.
  • 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 patient should wear a facemask when you are around other people. If the patient 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 as the patient.
  • 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.
  • Avoid sharing household items with the patient. 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 health care provider. Check available hours when contacting your local health department.

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