Caring for Yourself or People with COVID

At-Home Care

Watch for emergency signs

Call 911 if the sick person has:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you, or someone in your care, has COVID-19, it's important to know how to care of yourself and others while at home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Follow the steps below if you or someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Stay home.
    Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
  • Take care of yourself.
    Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
  • Connect with your healthcare provider or a nurse consulting line if needed.
    This is especially important if the sick person is at high risk for severe illness due to older age or underlying medical conditions. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
  • Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Using a pulse oximeter to check blood oxygen levelsIf you have a pulse oximeter, a device that measures the oxygen saturation level of your blood in a non-invasive way, learn how to use it.

Pay attention to the symptoms. If the symptoms get worse or the symptoms are concerning to you, call a healthcare provider for guidance.

Need help finding a doctor or getting health insurance? Call 211 or visit or the Oregon Health Plan (OHP).

Provide Comfort

If someone in your household needs care, choose one person in the household to be the main caregiver.

Make sure the sick person gets plenty of rest.

Use over the counter medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Advil, Tylenol, etc.) to stay comfortable and manage symptoms.

Prevent dehydration

  • Staying hydrated is important when taking care of yourself or others. Ensure the sick person drinks plenty of liquids (water, broth, herbal tea, juice, etc.)
  • Drink small amounts of fluid frequently, even if you/the sick person does not feel thirsty.
  • If the sick person is not eating solid foods, offer fluids that contain sugars and salts, such as Pedialyte® or Lytren® (undiluted), broth, or sports drinks (diluted half and half with water).
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeinated or diet drinks.
  • Do not use tobacco.

Recovering from COVID-19, wrapped up in blankets and holding a mug

Watch for signs of dehydration

Someone who is dehydrated may:

  • Be weak or unresponsive (call 911 if someone is unresponsive)
  • Have a dry mouth and tongue
  • Produce less urine, which becomes dark in color

Check for dehydration

  • Gently pinch layers of skin between your thumb and forefinger for 1 second (best done on the belly skin of a child and on the upper chest of an adult).
  • Normally, the skin will flatten out to its usual shape right away. If someone is dehydrated, the skin will “tent” or take 2 or more seconds to flatten out.

If the sick person is dehydrated

  • Give plenty of fluids through frequent sips over a 4-hour period.
  • Watch for an increase in urination and a lighter color of the urine.
  • Call a healthcare provider right away if dehydration worsens.

Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in the Home

Anyone ill should:

  • Stay home, except to get medical care.
  • Avoid close contact with others. Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available. If this is not an option, try to stay at least 6 feet apart from each other and stay masked while interacting. Consider setting up separate sleeping areas of a bedroom. Limit contact with pets.

Caregivers should:

  • Wear a mask and gloves when providing care, if available. Masks should be worn by both the sick person and the person providing care, when in close contact.
  • Clean surfaces throughout the home daily. Use soap and water or other household cleaners, then use a disinfectant, on all high-touch surfaces (phones, tabletops, bathroom fixtures, doorknobs, etc.) throughout the home.
  • Wash laundry of the sick person thoroughly and often. Keep the laundry away from your body. Wash your hands immediately after handling laundry.

Everyone in the household should:

  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash hands often. Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol, when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items.

Get Support

If you are sick with COVID-19 or caring for someone who is sick, it can be stressful and worrisome. Visit these resources.

A free service for people in Clackamas County who might be struggling with the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Get support from trained professionals at Oregon Health Authority’s Positive Test Hotline or by calling 866-917-8881.

Returning to Normal

After COVID, be gentle with yourself. Your body just experienced a serious illness. Experts recommend that people with COVID-19, with or without symptoms, should take it easy for at least one week after testing positive.

Consult your healthcare provider before returning to any rigorous exercise or with any questions and concerns you may have.

Office Hours:

Tested positive or were exposed to COVID‑19?
The trained professionals at the Oregon Health Authority can help.
Hours Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vaccine questions?

Regional Information

Clackamas County Crisis and Support Line

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline