For two years you have been out of chances. You disguised yourself, kept your distance, took pictures.
Now, despite these efforts, you, your child, or someone else in your home is suffering from covid-19. And the last thing you want is for the virus to spread to everyone in the family or household. But how do you prevent it from circulating when you live in cramped neighborhoods?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends isolation of patients with covid for at least five days, preferably in a separate room with access to a private bathroom, as well as diligent wearing of a mask for both the patient and the caregiver. But for many families, these are not easy options. Not everyone has an extra bedroom, let alone a free bathroom. Young children should not be left alone, and the youngest do not tolerate masks.
“It’s hard for parents of young children not to be exposed,” said Dr. Priti Malani, chief health officer at the University of Michigan. “You have to go back from the ideal to the possible and manage your risk as best you can.”
But have a heart. Scientists say there are still many people who can do to protect their families, the chief among them improving ventilation and filtration in the air.
“Ventilation is important,” said Dr. Amy Barczak, a medical assistant at Harvard Medical School. “If you’re caring for someone at home, it’s really important to maximize all the interventions that work.”
To understand why good ventilation may be important, it helps to understand how the new coronavirus is spreading. In two years, scientists have learned a lot about its infectious mechanisms.
Viral particles float in the air like invisible secondary smoke, spreading as they travel. Outside the home, viruses are quickly spread by the wind. Microbes can build up inside, such as clouds of thick cigarette smoke, increasing the risk of inhaling the virus.
The best strategy to avoid the virus is to make your internal environment as similar as possible to the external one.
Start by opening as many windows as the weather allows, said Joseph Fox, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning engineer in a large school district in Ontario, Canada. If possible, open windows on opposite sides of the house to create a cross breeze that can help wash viruses out and bring in fresh air inside.
For added protection, place a ventilator on the box in the patient’s window facing out to draw microbial air out. Seal all openings around the sides of the fan, said Jim Rosenthal, CEO of Tex-Air Filters, a company that manufactures air filtration products in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It’s really simple and it’s cheap,” Rosenthal said.
To prevent contaminated air from escaping from the nursing room, Fox suggests placing towels in the slot under the bedroom door. People also need to cover air return grilles with plastic. These grilles cover the ventilation openings, which suck the air out of the room and recycle it through the heating or cooling system.
Fox also suggests including bathroom or kitchen fans that can blow bacterial air out. Although running exhaust fans while taking a shower is relatively safe, Fox said, it’s important to open windows when the fans are running for more than 10 minutes. This is to avoid reducing the pressure in the house, a circumstance that can lead to the extraction of carbon monoxide in the home from the furnace or boiler.
Coronaviruses thrive in dry air, and increasing the amount of moisture in the air can help deactivate them, said Lincy Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Marr suggests raising humidity levels to somewhere between 40% and 60%.
The use of portable air cleaners can provide additional protection. Research shows that high-performance particulate air filters or HEPA filters can remove coronaviruses from the air. If people have only one HEPA filter, it is best to place it in the patient’s room to catch any virus that the patient exhales.
“You want to place the filter as close to the source as possible [of the virus] as much as possible, “Fox said.
If available to families, additional air purifiers can be used in other rooms.
Store-bought air purifiers can be expensive, with some models costing hundreds of dollars. Still, for about $ 100, people can build their own portable air purifiers using a fan, four high-efficiency air filters, and duct tape. These DIY devices are duplicated Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, after their co-inventors Rosenthal and Richard Corsy, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Davis. Low cost boxes are shown to work as well as commercial air purifiers.
Rosenthal said the pandemic had motivated him to help design air purifiers. “We are not helpless,” Rosenthal said. “We need to provide tools that people can use right now to make things better.”
Although breastfeeding a loved one through covid exposes the person caring for them, the risk is much lower today than in the first year of the pandemic. Approximately 95% of the population has some kind of immunity to the coronavirus due to vaccines, previous infections or both, said Dr. Paul Ofit, director of the Vaccine Training Center at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital.
However, a recent study found that half of the people living in the household of an infected patient were also infected with the virus.
Given that the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of covid, they could consider staying with a friend or neighbor if possible until the sick family member recovers, Priya Dougal said. , Professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Patients can be considered free of covid after a negative PCR test, Barcak said. Because patients with even small amounts of residual virus may continue to perform positive PCR results for weeks long after symptoms have resolved, patients may also use rapid antigen tests to assess their progress. If the antigen tests are negative for two consecutive days, the person is considered less likely to be infected.
KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. Along with policy analysis and surveys, KHN is one of the three main operational programs in KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a gifted non-profit organization that provides information on the nation’s health issues.
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