COVID-19: Go to Hospital or Recover at Home?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 causes mild symptoms in about eight out of 10 people, and most people who are mildly ill with the virus are able to recover from home. If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have it, call your doctor before going to the doctor’s office or emergency room. People who do not think they are very sick could end up spreading the disease to others who are far more likely to develop severe symptoms, such as the elderly and people with compromising health conditions.
If you believe you meet the criteria to go to the hospital (dry cough and a fever combined with difficulty breathing or a compromised immune symptom) call ahead to let your doctor know, then follow his or her advice on the best way to get to the hospital or other healthcare facility.
If your doctor recommends you recover at home, separate yourself from other family members. As much as possible stay in a specific “sick room” and away from others. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
You should also restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with them until more information is known.
Currently, no antiviral medication is recommended to treat COVID-19. According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment is directed at relieving symptoms and may include:
- Pain relievers (acetaminophen)
- Cough syrup or medication
- Fluid intake
How to Discontinue Home Isolation
According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:
- If you do not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
- Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
- At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
- If you are tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
- You no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
- other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
- you received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.
In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments. Local decisions depend on local circumstances.