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Living with a vulnerable person? Here’s how to protect them from COVID-19.

Nigel Turner, Health Department Director of Communicable Disease
by Nigel Turner04/10/2020 12:12 p.m.
Updated: 04/10/2020

People over 60, the immune compromised, those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease, severe obesity and pregnant people are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

If you live with someone in one or more of those categories—but still must go out for essential tasks—you may wonder how best to protect them. What extra precautions can you take?

You can take steps to prevent COVID-19:

  • Stay home as much as possible. Only go out when necessary to buy groceries, pick up medications and travel to essential work and doctor’s appointments.
  • Regularly wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone outside your household.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home and car.
  • Watch for symptoms in yourself and others: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.
  • Cancel unnecessary doctor’s appointments or try telemedicine appointments instead.

If your loved one gets sick, prevent the spread of germs when caring for them.

Watch for signs their illness is getting worse or signs such as difficulty breathing, confusion or unresponsiveness, and call their healthcare provider.

Have the sick person isolate in a room separate from all others in the house, including you. If possible, have them use a separate bathroom as well.

A person washing their hands in a skin

Encourage them to drink lots of liquids to stay hydrated. Over-the-counter medicines may help alleviate symptoms. 

Avoid sharing personal items like dish towels, bath towels and bedding.

Have them wear a face mask, if available. If they can’t wear a mask, you should wear one while in the same room with them.

Wash laundry thoroughly. Wear disposable gloves for soiled laundry. Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.

Avoid unnecessary visitors. Make sure home health workers properly wash their hands and disinfect any equipment they bring into your home.

Not everyone has a safe place to stay. We opened a free, temporary care center as an option to protect people who may not have a safe place to isolate or self-quarantine.

The center is for people:

  • Exposed to COVID-19 but not yet sick and need a safe place to stay for the 14-day assessment period (quarantine).
  • Tested positive for the disease or have symptoms but do not need hospital care while they recover (isolation ).

Learn more here.

  1. Updated: 04/12/2020
Nigel Turner, Health Department Director of Communicable Disease

by Nigel Turner

Nigel leads our work to help keep your family safe from communicable diseases.


We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.