As health officials in Missouri and Illinois try to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, they are directing residents who have COVID-19 or who have come in contact with someone who does to isolate themselves from people who are not ill.
Officials in both states say a quarantine is the best way to ensure that exposed people do not put others at risk. In Missouri, public health departments have the authority to quarantine anyone exposed to a contagious and infectious disease.
People under quarantine — even those who do not have symptoms — should stay home 14 days from their last exposure to the virus or to someone who has it. They must follow rigorous guidelines.
Stay at home: If you’re under quarantine, you should only leave your home residence for emergencies such as a house fire or if your safety is at risk. Don't go to work or attend social events where you will have close contact with others.
Avoid contact: If others live in the same space, avoid contact with them as much as possible. Do not interact with visitors. Have delivery services leave groceries and other essentials on the doorstep or porch.
“People shouldn’t be answering the door and addressing people who come to the door face to face if they come under quarantine; they should speak through the door,” said Demetrius Cianci-Chapman, director of public health for St. Charles County. “They shouldn’t be picking up prescriptions; they shouldn’t be going for drives; they shouldn’t be walking around the community; they shouldn’t be talking over the fence with their neighbor.”
Stay in your room: Staying in a separate, well-ventilated room will help keep others from being exposed to the virus. If you have access to a designated bathroom, you should only use that bathroom. If you must share a bathroom, develop a rotation, use the bathroom last and clean it afterward. Communal areas should only be used when others are not in the room, Cianci-Chapman said.
Stock your cabinets: You should have enough food to last 14 days. Health officials also recommend enough prescriptions and medicine for that time.
Clean surfaces: Wipe down all surfaces you use and regularly clean them with antiviral and antimicrobial household cleaners.
Wear masks: Wear a face mask if you come in contact with another person. A mask helps contain respiratory droplets from reaching others.
Keep distance from pets: Don’t take your pets for walks. Although there have been no reports of pets spreading the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who has come in contact with animals wash their hands and wear a facemask.
Advice for caregivers and family: If you live with someone under quarantine, try to stay six feet away from them. Wear a mask. Cianci-Chapman recommends caregivers use an N-95 respirator mask, which filters out viral particulate matter and can help reduce exposure for caregivers and nurses.
“Somebody who needs a lot of care and is quarantined, if they can't care for themselves, home quarantine may not be the appropriate setting for them; they may need a higher level of care and need to be in a hospital or some other supportive environment,” Cianci-Chapman said.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF encourage caretakers and those with children to monitor children and watch for symptoms.
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