Caring for Someone With COVID-19 | Infectious Diseases | JAMA | JAMA Network
[Skip to Content]
Sign In
Individual Sign In
Create an Account
Institutional Sign In
OpenAthens Shibboleth
Purchase Options:
[Skip to Content Landing]
Views 15,585
Citations 0
JAMA Patient Page
August 13, 2020

Caring for Someone With COVID-19

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 2Associate Editor, JAMA
JAMA. Published online August 13, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.15061

Care of individuals with COVID-19 is 2-fold: support the patient and prevent yourself and others from contracting SARS-CoV-2.

What Is Supportive Care?

At this time, there is no cure for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), although some treatments are being used in severe illness. For patients recovering at home, treatment is mainly supportive. For people with mild symptoms, this means staying well rested, drinking plenty of fluids, and monitoring symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever or chills, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose or congestion, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Some people have more severe symptoms that require hospitalization.

What Is Preventive Care?

You can be infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) while taking care of someone with COVID-19. Although there is not yet a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, infection is preventable. The most important steps to prevent spread are wearing a mask, maintaining social distance whenever possible, washing hands often, and cleaning and sanitizing the home.

Box Section Ref ID
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, email reprints@jamanetwork.com.
Back to top
Article Information

Published Online: August 13, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.15061

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Sources: Steinman MA, Perry L, Perissinotto CM. Meeting the care needs of older adults isolated at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(6):819-820. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.1661

Wolff JL, Freedman VA, Mulcahy JF. Family caregivers’ experiences with health care workers in the care of older adults with activity limitations. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1919866. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19866

Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words
    1 Comment for this article
    EXPAND ALL
    Long Distance Care for Someone With Covid-19
    Anthony Smithyman, BSc, PhD Immunology | Biotechnology company executive
    With the worst possible timing my son arrived back in New York (March 16th) just as the full force of the virus hit the city. Within 5 days he had contracted the disease and was locked down in an apartment with a roommate who was also infected. In those early days the NY hospitals were overwhelmed and only patients with severe symptoms were being tested or admitted. Detailed knowledge about the nature and infectivity of the virus and the progression of the disease were in short supply, and alarming stories of bizarre new symptoms were emerging on a daily basis.

    My wife and I found ourselves trying to offer care and support from several thousand miles away. To our great relief, after three weeks and one emergency hospital visit later, all ended well. It helped that I was an immunologist but with this experience still fresh in mind I am writing to commend the authors on these straightforward and very useful guidelines and if I may, add one further suggestion. Namely the purchase and daily use of a finger-pulse oximeter for monitoring oxygen levels. I gather these can be purchased at regular pharmacies for around $30. Of all the symptoms experienced it was shortness of breath that caused the most distress and having one of these monitors provided at least some level of control, not to mention early warning of possible impending hypoxia.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
    READ MORE
    ×