How to keep loved ones safe while you’re sick

Suspect you have COVID-19?

> Get screened

Getting sick is no fun for any of us. We want to get well as quickly as possible.

But one thing we often forget is that our treatment and recovery are about more than just us. Anytime we get sick, other people we encounter – directly or indirectly – face a heightened risk of becoming sick, too.

This is particularly true with a highly contagious disease, such as novel coronavirus (COVID-19). But it’s also the case with the common cold, influenzas and other viral infections.

When you are sick, be proactive in your efforts to recover – and keep other people safe, including your family, friends and coworkers.

Avoid passing infection to others

If you suspect you might have COVID-19, or if you have tested positive for the disease, you pose a substantial health and safety risk to the community and you need to isolate yourself as quickly as you can. You do not want to pass COVID-19 on to anyone else. Remain in home isolation until your health care provider clears you to leave.

Regardless of your illness, follow these steps to avoid passing an infection to others:

  • Isolate yourself. Stay in a separate room. Avoid contact with other people and animals. Use a separate bathroom, if you have the option.
  • Take pain and fever medications.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Wear a face mask when you’re around other people.
  • Thoroughly wash and sanitize your hands frequently.
  • If a surface is dirty, wash it first, then sanitize it.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often, including doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, phones, desktops, keyboards, faucets, sinks and toilets.
  • Clean and disinfect any surface with blood or other bodily fluids on them.
  • Avoid sharing bedding, towels, dishes, glasses, utensils or anything else. Wash items thoroughly after using.

Monitor your symptoms

While you’re isolated, you also need to monitor your own health. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may need urgent medical attention.

  • Difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to respond
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical condition

Know your care options

If you experience any of these symptoms, please use one of the following options:

  • Visit and use Clare, the free digital assistant in the bottom right corner of the screen who can assist you with the next steps any time of the day or night.
  • Call the free 24-hour COVID-19 Nurse Hotline at (833) OSF-KNOW (833-673-5669). A screening from the hotline could lead to the assignment of a Pandemic Health Worker, a trained individual who will digitally connect with you during the pandemic crisis, monitor your symptoms and ensure you get the care you need safely at home.
  • If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, call 911.

About Author: Kirk Wessler

Kirk Wessler started work as a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare in January 2019. A Peoria native and graduate of Bradley University, he previously worked for newspapers in Missouri, Texas and most recently at the Peoria Journal Star.

Kirk and his wife, MaryFrances, have five sons, four daughters-in-law and nine grandchildren. He’s on a quest to master playing guitar and golf. He also loves to travel, especially driving back roads.

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Categories: COVID-19, General