Life at home during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated on

This advice is based on our medical staff and CDC guidelines about COVID-19. We update this site when new information is available. New information may also be available from the CDC.

Is this an emergency?

If you’re suffering from a life threatening condition, stop and call 911.

Living day to day during COVID-19

Should I wear a mask or face covering when I leave my house?

Yes.

  • You and others in your home should wear a mask when you will be going to public spaces like the grocery store, gas station, or work.
  • Wear a cloth face covering like a bandana, scarf, or home-sewn mask if you can’t find a mask. Use a cotton or cotton-blend cloth.
  • Clean your mask or cloth face covering every day.

If you are going outdoors or in your car, it is not necessary to cover your face when you are isolated from others.

There is currently a lot of discussion about whether we should only be wearing a mask when experiencing signs of illness. We have recently learned that people can spread COVID-19 via exhaling or talking without having any signs of illness.

Wearing a mask or face covering is a step everyone should take to stay safe from being exposed to COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 transmitted by food or packaging

No.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence of getting COVID-19 from food, treated drinking water, or food packaging.

The risk of getting COVID-19 from food you cook yourself, or from handling and consuming food from restaurants via takeout, curbside pick-up, or drive-thru is thought to be very low. Currently, there is no evidence that food is associated with spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

The risk of infection by the virus from food products, food packaging, or bags is thought to be very low. Currently, no cases of COVID-19 have been identified where infection was thought to have occurred by touching food, food packaging, or shopping bags.

Although some people who work in food production and processing facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, there is no evidence of the virus spreading to consumers through the food or packaging that workers in these facilities may have handled.

See our webinar Healthy, Fit, and Sound at Home for ways to keep yourself, your family, and local restaurant workers safe and supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can I visit an elderly family member?

Yes, you can visit elderly family members.

Protect them by

  • washing your hands before and after, and by using hand sanitizer
  • keeping at least 6 feet away when you can
  • coughing or sneezing into a tissue
  • covering your face with a mask or cloth face covering.

Checking in daily by phone or video helps reduce everyone’s feelings of loneliness.

Do your best to keep grandchildren away from Grandma and Grandpa until the outbreak is over, even if they are staying in the same house.

Can I help by donating blood during COVID-19?

Yes.

You can help by donating blood.

The U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has said, “You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future.” Both the FDA and the CDC also released statements encouraging healthy individuals to donate blood if they can. 

Safety at home

Tornado season and COVID-19

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Don’t let COVID-19 stop you from getting to a safe place during a tornado warning

Make a severe weather plan now

  • Decide if there is a good place in your home to take shelter, like a basement, or an inside room without windows on the lowest level.
  • If there isn’t a good place in your home, check with a neighbor who has a basement or shelter
  • If you are sheltering with a neighbor, make a plan together to protect yourselves, like social distancing and wearing masks or face coverings
  • If you normally use a public or community shelter, check now and often with your local officials to see if it will be open

We’re now heading into the most active months for tornadoes in the U.S. 

Now is a good time to decide how and where you’re going to take shelter if you need to.

Read the American Meteorological Society’s tornado sheltering guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more information about preparing for tornados at ready.gov.

If you think someone has been poisoned or exposed to chemicals

Is this an emergency?

If you’re suffering from a life threatening condition, stop and call 911.

If you have been exposed to, have ingested harmful chemicals, or have questions about being exposed to chemicals

  • call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222; or
  • text poision to 484848; or
  • use the Poison Control Center online tool for advice.

Ingesting a poison is when it is swallowed, absorbed through the skin, injected, inhaled, or splashed into the eyes.

During COVID-19, there may be a higher risk for unintentional poisoning at home due to the increase of hand sanitizers and cleaning products within close reach of children, or using them to clean foods, mixing different cleaners together to form toxic fumes, and using or confusing different medications and doses. 

Chemicals are good at killing bacteria and germs on surfaces, but they can have serious consequences when exposed to a person.

You can prevent chemical exposure and poisoning by safely storing products and medications away from children and always read the labels before use. 

Help for parents

Is this an emergency?

If you think your child is suffering from a life threatening condition, stop and call 911.

COVID-19 and pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, stay safe by

  • practicing good hand hygiene
  • staying home as much as possible
  • self-isolating for 12 weeks, if you’re able.

To best answer your questions about pregnancy and COVID-19, stay connected with your OB/GYN (obstetrician / gynecologist) or primary care provider (PCP).

Pregnant women, by nature, have a weakened immune system. This means they are more at-risk for complications of respiratory infections, like COVID-19.

Scientists are learning more about how COVID-19 affects pregnant women.

Here’s what we know about COVID-19 and pregnancies right now:

  • Pregnant women are not more likely to get infected with COVID-19.
  • Pregnant women who get respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, are at a higher risk for serious health conditions.
  • Health experts recommend following good hand hygiene and social distancing. Some doctors suggest 12 weeks of self-isolation as an added precaution, if you are able. Learn how to protect yourself.
  • A small study of pregnant women in China with confirmed COVID-19 found no evidence of it in their breast milk, cord blood, or amniotic fluid.

What to do if my child gets sick

Contact your provider if your child has

  • a fever
  • a cough
  • fast breathing
  • signs of dehydration, such as not peeing for 8-12 hours, or no tears when crying
  • been less active than usual

With the nonstop news coverage, it’s easy to think that COVID-19 symptoms are an emergency, but it’s important not to go to the ER at the first sign of fever.

Your provider will let you know if you can care for your child at home or if you need to go to the doctor’s office or the ER. 

What if my child needs medical attention for non-COVID-19 illnesses and emergencies (rashes, vomiting, injuries)?

Contact your provider to find out if you need to be seen in person, unless it’s a life-threatening emergency.

Doing this can help limit unnecessary potential spread of COVID-19.

What to do if a child licks hand sanitizer

A lick of hand sanitizer will not be fatal to a child or anyone else.

If a child drinks hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizers do contain alcohol and should be stored, like other potential poisons, out of sight and out of reach of children

Can my kids still have play dates during COVID-19 social distancing?

No.

For social distancing to work in preventing the spread of COVID-19, don’t have playdates.

For kids to have fun and get exercise, choose outdoor activities that require distance. Something like going for a bike ride allows them to be together without coming into contact with each other (bringing and using hand sanitizer is still a good idea). Backyard games, like cornhole or badminton are also fun ways to get outside.

Can I use a babysitter for child care during COVID-19 social distancing?

If you need to.

The fewer people you and your children are exposed to, the better. However, we know that not every family will be able to have a parent at home at all times.

Do your best to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 by

  • using fewer babysitters and choosing a babysitter who isn’t around many other people besides your family
  • making sure the babysitter understands they need to practice social distancing, and let you know (and not come to your house!) if feeling at all sick or have been near someone with COVID-19
  • having the babysitter limit closeness by keeping a safe distance with your children, as much as they can
  • making sure everyone washes their hands frequently throughout the day, especially before eating.

How to talk to children about COVID-19

Given all the information and talking about COVID-19, your children might have questions for you. 

Try to strike a balance between answering questions well enough without fueling the flame of anxiety

  • Provide just enough information
  • Be calm around children about COVID-19
  • Limit watching news
  • Give reassurance, especially when they are seeking it

Remember, everyone is working hard to manage COVID-19. You can show your children that you, too, can continue to do what is important to you while practicing healthy behaviors.

Questions children may have about COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a kind of germ that can make people feel sick. Remember how the flu made (you/your classmate/anyone your child knows) feel? It can be a lot like getting the flu. Some people feel just a little bit sick. Some people get a fever and a cough. 

How do you catch COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads like the flu, or a cold or cough. If a person who has COVID-19 sneezes or coughs, germs that are inside the body come out of the body. That’s because sneezes and coughs can send germs into the air. That’s why it’s important to stand six feet apart from people other than your family. You don’t want to breathe in air with germs. To keep germs on hands from getting inside the body, wash your hands with soap and water and count to 20 slowly or sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Try not to touch your mouth, eyes, or inside your nose because those are places where the germs can get inside the body.

Why are some people wearing masks?

Masks are for people who are sick to wear so that they don’t share germs. The masks also are for medical staff, like doctors and nurses, to wear so they can help people who have COVID-19. For now, when we go out we will wear a piece of cloth over our mouth and nose (like a bandana or scarf) to be sure we don’t breathe in germs. If we do this, COVID-19 will go away and we won’t have to cover our faces.

Can you die from COVID-19?

Most people who have caught COVID-19 have not died, just like with the flu. Doctors are working really hard to keep an eye on anyone who is feeling sick. They want to make sure everyone gets the help they need and to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

If you’re doing healthy things like sneezing into your elbow and washing your hands after you go to the bathroom, then you’re showing COVID-19 who’s boss instead!

Activities for children during COVID-19

You can go anywhere in the world! Take this time to visit the Louvre in Paris, the San Diego zoo, a marine biology center, or the moon. Our Health Coaches have put together a handout for families to stay healthy while at home, including activities for children.