How to leave coronavirus behind when you come home
This is a spot-on article from a family medicine journal. I’m adopting ALL the tips in the hope that my husband and three kids don’t get the virus from me.
Providing patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic means you and your family are at risk for exposure. The ideas below, compiled in consultation with family physicians from across the country and incorporating Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, describe how to limit the risk to your family as you return home at the end of your workday.
Monitor your health
- Check your temperature twice a day. Watch for respiratory symptoms. Contact your local or state health department if symptoms develop.
Prepare for work
- Consider wearing scrubs every day. Always have a clean set ready.
- If you wear a white coat, wash it every day. I’m not wearing mine as I’d rather be able to wash my arms.
- If you typically wear jewelry, a tie, a watch, or other nonessential accessories, leave them at home. This is first time in my 25 years of marriage that I haven’t worn my ring. It feels odd, but also makes me feel alerted to the viral danger. I asked my husband (who is also a physician) to not wear his either.
- If you have medium or long hair, wear it pulled back. I am wearing it back, with a Wonder Woman scrub hat that a local sewer made for me and my inpatient physician team.
- If you wear contacts, consider wearing glasses to decrease the need to touch your face and for the glasses to offer a physical barrier to the virus. I am opting for no makeup and glasses. This is not a beauty contest!
- Prepare clean clothes and shoes to change into after work. Take them with you if you can change at work. I have opted to wear long johns and a tank top under my scrubs. I take off my scrubs at my car ( I have gotten some strange looks from passers-by)and put them in a washable bag. Then purell my hands and arms before getting in my car.
- Remove nonessential items in your car, and stock the car with disinfecting wipes to make it easy to wipe down key surfaces after traveling home.
- If taking mass transit, have hand sanitizer available and use it after touching any surfaces.
- If you have extra disposable gloves, take them with you in case you need to touch potentially contaminated surfaces as you travel to work( like gas pumps). Be sure to carefully remove and dispose of them.
Before leaving work
- If possible, shower and change into clean clothes and shoes before heading home.
- Put dirty clothes and shoes into a bag for soiled clothing. Consider using a cloth bag you can wash along with your dirty clothes each day.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removing work clothes and before touching clean clothes.
When you arrive home
- If you were unable to change clothes before leaving work, change in an isolated location (e.g., garage, mudroom, laundry room).
- Do not wear shoes from work into your home. Clean them, top and bottom, with disinfecting wipes.
- Wash clothes worn at work using your usual laundry detergent.
- Wash or safely discard dirty clothes bag.
- Wash hands after handling dirty clothes and shoes.
- Shower before interacting with your family.
- You may choose to isolate, if possible, from your family to limit their potential for exposure:
- Identify a room and bathroom to be used exclusively by you. Have another family member leave needed food and items for you outside your isolation area so that you don’t have to move throughout your home to meet your needs. Consider using disposable plates, cups, and utensils.
- If you are unable to use separate spaces from your family, attempt to maintain six feet from others in your home, and be sure to sleep alone.
Disinfect your home regularly
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics.
- Use disinfecting methods recommended by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html(www.cdc.gov).
Stay safe. Stay home.