• How to leave coronavirus behind when you come home

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    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 and remain alert for respiratory symptoms. Be sure to 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.
    • If you typically wear jewelry, a tie, a watch, or other nonessential accessories, leave them at home.
    • If you have medium or long hair, wear it pulled back.
    • If you wear contacts, consider wearing glasses to decrease the need to touch your face and to offer a barrier.
    • Prepare clean clothes and shoes to change into after work. Take them with you if you can change at work.
    • 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. 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

    — Tracey Allen-Ehrhart, Manager of Governance and Programs, AAFP

    Posted on Mar 30, 2020 by FPM Editors

    Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions and views of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This blog is not intended to provide medical, financial, or legal advice. All comments are moderated and will be removed if they violate our Terms of Use.