How does quarantine work when you live in an apartment
March 11, 2020 6:14 AM   Subscribe

We live in an apartment. If one or all of us needed to be quarantined (required self-quarantine, not infected), how does that work? I understand that you don't leave the apartment, but our laundry machines are shared with the rest of the building, the trash is communal, mailboxes, etc. We could hire someone to take care of those and leave everything outside our door, but wouldn't the bags also potentially be exposing whoever took them?

We also have a dog that needs walking - would we need a dog walker, or could we take her out (for example) at 5 in the morning when almost no one's outside if we maintain a 6 foot distance from anyone who might be out too? Even if she's with a dog walker, wouldn't her fur also be a potential exposure risk for the walker and anyone on the street who she interacts with?

Also - can one person be quarantined and not everyone else, if they stay in a room completely separate from the family with no interactions (no shared bathrooms, food outside the door, etc)? Or is that not even possible? I'm mostly asking about self-quarantine if required, not someone actively infected - though I'd love to know how that works as well.

Looking for sources rather than guesswork. Thanks.
posted by Mchelly to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Self quarantine does not necessarily exist to wholly prevent other people from getting sick, just to delay and minimize contact so that people get sick at a slower rate. Which is to say--you do what's feasible financially and for your living situation. You don't visit older people, you don't work or telework if you can, you don't go to parties or gatherings you otherwise would go to, you use services like Instacart if financially feasible. But, like, there's only so much you can do. Keeping oneself in a negative pressure bubble is just not possible for most people. In an ideal world there would be quarantine services for sick people--but in the meantime you just do your best.
posted by Anonymous at 6:45 AM on March 11, 2020

Even if she's with a dog walker, wouldn't her fur also be a potential exposure risk for the walker and anyone on the street who she interacts with?

Having asked an expert about this the other day: No. There has been no sign that a dog’s coat could transfer the virus.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:24 AM on March 11, 2020 [7 favorites]

The CDC has a risk assessment page, which divides it up depending on what the reason for the quarantine is and the appropriate response depending also on whether you are symptomatic or not.

So for example "Close contact with a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19" is regarded as medium risk and requires "Practice social distancing" (among other things). Social distancing is defined up above as "Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible."

There are various links to pages explaining what to do in the case of someone being actively infected.
posted by scorbet at 9:43 AM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’m in a similar boat as the OP... and the NYT is (un?)surprisingly silent on multi-person households in small dwellings.

We only have one bathroom, one bed, one kitchen. Do we self-isolate as a unit then? And then who’s going to do the laundry, grocery-getting, etc?
posted by curoi at 10:19 AM on March 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

You load-up on food, paper products, medicines etc., now. You clean the crap out of everything before and after you touch it. You do in tub or sink hand laundry. You do what you can humanely for the putatively infected, limiting your own possible damage as much as possible. Throw out trash with a scarf around your face ... all this stuff is going to become second nature.
posted by Chitownfats at 11:27 AM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

The UK NHS has published Self-isolation advice that includes households with other people as well as shared accommodations, and Public Health England has published Advice for people who live in the same accommodation as the patient and related resources.
posted by katra at 11:01 PM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

The NZ Ministry of Health has also published COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) - Self-isolation guidance, and related resources are listed on the MeFi Wiki Disaster Planning & Recovery page in the Medical/Pandemic section.
posted by katra at 8:30 AM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

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