For two years, I beat the odds. You’re convincing, you keep your distance, and you get your shots.
Now, despite these efforts, you, your child, or anyone else in your household has contracted Covid-19. And the last thing you want is for the virus to spread to everyone in the family or home. But how do you keep it from spinning when you live nearby?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends isolating Covid patients for at least five days, preferably in a separate room with access to their own bathroom, as well as diligent wearing of masks for both patient and caregiver. But for many families, these are not easy options. Not everyone has an extra bedroom to spare, let alone a free bathroom. Young children should not be left alone, and younger children do not tolerate masks.
“For parents of young children, it’s very difficult not to disclose them,” said Dr. Priti Malaney, chief health officer at the University of Michigan. “You have to get back from the ideal to the possible and manage your risks as best you can.”
But be encouraged. Scientists say there is still a lot people can do to protect their families, on top of which is improving ventilation and air purification.
“Ventilation is very important,” said Dr. Amy Barczak, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “If you’re caring for someone at home, it’s really important to maximize all successful interventions.”
To understand why good ventilation affects it, it is helpful to understand how the novel coronavirus spreads. Scientists have learned a lot in two years about the mechanisms of infection.
Viral particles float in the air like invisible invisible smoke, spreading as they travel. Outside the home, viruses spread quickly by wind. Inside, germs can build up, like thick clouds of cigarette smoke, increasing the risk of inhaling the virus.
The best strategy to avoid the virus is to make your indoor environment as similar to the outdoors as possible.
Begin by opening as many windows as the weather permits, said Joseph Fox, an HVAC engineer for a large school district in Ontario, Canada. If possible, open windows on opposite sides of the house to create a cross breeze, which can help sweep viruses outside and bring fresh air indoors.
For added protection, place a box fan in the patient’s window, facing out, to draw germ-causing air out. Jim Rosenthal, CEO of Tex-Air Filters, a company that makes air purification products in Fort Worth, Texas, said seal any vents around the sides of the fan.
It’s really simple, and it’s cheap,” Rosenthal said.
To prevent infected air from escaping from the patient’s room, Fox suggests placing towels in the gap under the bedroom door. People should also cover return air grills with plastic. These grills cover the openings that suck the air out of the room and recirculate it through the heating or cooling system.
Fox also suggests running bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans, which can funnel germ-inducing air outside. Fox said that while it’s relatively safe to run exhaust fans while showering, it’s important to open windows when fans have been running for more than 10 minutes. This is to avoid lowering home pressure, a circumstance that can cause carbon monoxide to be drawn into the home from the furnace or water heater.
Coronaviruses circulate in dry air, and increasing the amount of moisture in the air can help inactivate them, said Lynsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Marr suggests increasing humidity levels to between 40% and 60%.
Using portable air cleaners can provide additional protection. Research shows that high-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters, can remove coronaviruses from the air. If people only have one HEPA filter, it is best to put it in the sick room, to trap any virus exhaled by the patient.
You want to place the filter close to the source [of the virus] Fox said.
Additional air cleaners can be used in other rooms, if they are affordable for families.
Store-bought air purifiers can be expensive, with some models costing hundreds of dollars. However, for about $100, people can build their own portable air cleaners using a box fan, four high-efficiency air filters, and duct tape. The do-it-yourself devices were named “Courcy-Rosenthal Boxes” after their co-inventors, Rosenthal and Richard Corcy, dean of the College of Engineering at UC Davis. Low cost boxes are proven to work just like commercial air purifiers.
Rosenthal said the pandemic prompted him to help design air purifiers. We are not powerless, Rosenthal said. “We need to provide tools that people can use now to make things better.”
Although caring for a loved one with the Covid virus puts the caregiver at risk, the risk is much lower today than it was in the first year of the pandemic. An estimated 95% of the population has some immunity to the coronavirus, said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, due to previous vaccinations or infections or both.
However, a recent study found that half of the people living in the home of an infected patient also contracted the virus.
Priya Dougal, a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg University, said that given that older adults and those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk of contracting coronavirus, they might consider staying with a friend or neighbor, if possible, until the sick family member recovers. College of Public Health.
Barczak said patients can be considered free of coronavirus after a negative PCR test. Because patients with trace amounts of residual virus can go on to test positive in PCR tests for weeks, long after symptoms have gone, patients can also use rapid antigen tests to assess their progress. If the antigen tests are negative for two days in a row, the person is considered to be less likely to develop an infection.