For more information and to find a vaccine near you, visit SCLHealth.org/COVIDVaccine
Use these steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.
When to seek emergency medical attention
Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you seek care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other severe or concerning symptoms.
Stay home except to get medical care
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
- Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
Separate yourself from other people
As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask.
Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or two days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.
Monitor your symptoms
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or other symptoms.
- Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor
- Call ahead. Your medical visit for routine care may be postponed or done by phone or telemedicine.
- If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor's office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
If you are sick, wear a mask over your nose and mouth
- You should wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you must be around other people or animals, including pets (even at home).
- You don't need to wear the mask if you are alone. If you can't put on a mask (because of trouble breathing, for example), cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This will help protect the people around you.
- Masks should not be placed on young children under age two years, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who cannot remove the mask without help.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw away used tissues in a lined trash can.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
- Soap and water are the best options, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid sharing personal household items
- Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
- Wash these items thoroughly after using them with soap and water, or put them in the dishwasher.
Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your "sick room" and bathroom; wear disposable gloves. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, but you should clean your bedroom and bathroom, if possible.
- If a caregiver or other person needs to clean and disinfect a sick person's bedroom or bathroom, they should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver/other people should wear a mask and disposable gloves before cleaning. They should wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom before coming in to clean and use the bathroom.
High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
What helps, what doesn't, and what's in the pipeline
Most people who become ill with COVID-19 will recover at home. Some of the same things you do to feel better if you have the flu — getting enough rest, staying well hydrated, and taking medications to relieve fever and aches and pains — also help with COVID-19.
Beyond that, the FDA has also authorized treatments that may be used for people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and other medications to curb the progression of COVID-19 in people who are not hospitalized but who are at risk for developing severe illness. Scientists continue working hard to develop other effective treatments.
Click here for a detailed article published in November 2021 by Harvard University about some of the latest COVID treatment options.