Living with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Posted at 9:46 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 09:17:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Many doctors across San Diego County have seen a recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases. Five hundred one new cases were reported Thursday.

But, most people don’t require hospitalization and can isolate at home.

“We just do video visits with patients and talk to them about their symptoms,” said Dr. Michele Ritter, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health and an associate professor of medicine.

“At the end of April, May, we were getting maybe four or five new referrals a day to be seen, and then it went up to about 40 a day.”

Ritter is also the medical director of the COVID-19 clinic. She said many of her patients live with other people.

“There are times there are three of four generations of a family living in a house together and sometimes very close quarters, so that’s a challenge,” she explained.

If someone in your household has COVID-19 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends they stay in a separate room and use a different bathroom if possible, avoid contact with other members of the household and pets, don’t share personal household items, and wear a cloth face covering when around others

“The absolute ideal situation is your own room, your own bathroom. Not everybody has that, we have patients who live in two-bedroom apartments with six other people and a single bathroom.,” said Ritter.

While isolation is critical, Ritter said if you must use a shared space, like a bathroom, it’s essential to disinfect after every use. That includes using a shower, toilet, or sink.

“When you’re done if you’re able to have something like a Clorox wipe, or a washcloth with some Clorox bleach on it wipe down the surfaces that you’ve used and wash your hands,” she said. “In terms of laundering clothing, it’s probably fine to launder them together if you’re using high temperatures to wash your clothes.”

She said to wash all dishes and utensils used by someone with COVID-19 in hot water and soap or run them through a dishwasher.

“A lot of patients have their family members bring meals to them and set it outside their door so they can eat,” she said.

Another challenge is parents who test positive for COVID-19 and have mild symptoms, but still, have to take care of their kids.

“I find that most parents do well wearing a mask; the kids get used to it,” she said. “You can still be around your kids; just do the best you can.”

Ritter said many of her patients have been able to keep the virus from spreading to their loved ones at home by following simple steps.

“Wearing masks, washing hands, cleaning frequently touched surfaces is the best you can do,” she said. “We don’t always have perfect situations, so we do the best we can with what we have.”