What to Do When a Friend Has COVID-19

More and more people are learning firsthand how devastating COVID-19 can be, and infection rates are showing no signs of letting up. Many of us are doing what we can to protect ourselves and our close family members, but friends are important, and even if we can't exactly protect them, we love them, too. So when this illness hits someone close, but outside our household, it’s only natural to want to step in and help them out. Here’s how to do it as safely and effectively as possible.

How to Safely Supply a Friend Sick with COVID-19

Any serious illness can make self-care next to impossible. If a friend doesn’t have anyone to make them meals or keep the dishes from piling up in their kitchen, they might be struggling to meet their basic needs. Here are a few ways to help without putting yourself at too great a risk:

  • Ask for a shopping list the next time you plan a grocery trip. Have them include food, over-the-counter medications and any other essential items they may need. You can do a distanced porch drop to make sure they have the supplies they need without risking exposure. Throw in a good book, a fun movie, a magazine, or something to help them while away the time, too. In case they forgot, you can also include household supplies like toilet paper, cleaning and disinfection supplies, laundry detergent, and a mask to help them keep their germs to themselves.
  • Make a pot of homemade soup and divide it into ready-to-heat containers. Remember to properly cool hot foods, putting servings in shallow containers and refrigerating within 2 hours to avoid food poisoning. Then take them some meals to keep in the freezer and alleviate the need to cook.
  • See that they have a working thermometer and pulse oximeter; make sure they’re checking their temperature and blood-oxygen-level multiple times a day and recording the results so they have them to show a doctor if they need to go to the hospital.
  • Offer to pick up and return laundry.  Your friend can leave their laundry in a trash bag outside and you can take it, sanitize it, and return it clean and folded. Just remember that these items are almost certain to be highly contaminated with virus particles, so treat them as such and make sure you sanitize them thoroughly.

Practice safety measures to keep from getting sick yourself. Leave things at the front door if you can’t safely go inside. If you do venture in, require that you and your friend both wear masks and use a face shield to protect your eyes. Your friend may be able to offer additional protection by running a humidifier along with an air purifier that has a UV filter.

Being a Good Friend to Someone With COVID-19

News of having COVID-19 can be terrifying, so your friend may need more emotional support than ever. Keep reaching out; your friend may not have the physical or emotional capacity if they’re feeling rough. Call them regularly, just to see how they’re doing, and let them know you’re available if they need an ear. But find other things to talk about, too. Being sick suck. Being sick and lonely is worse. Borrow some of these tips from digital grandparents to keep in touch and find fun things to do.

Call, set up video chats and find other ways to get creative with social distancing.

If a Friend is in the Hospital With COVID-19

Policies vary, but if someone you care becomes hospitalized, visitation in many places is being limited to limit exposure. Check with the individual hospital; some are now allowing limited visitation and others aren't allowing any at all. Facilities that are still barring visitors may have video chat options, or they may make exceptions if it’s clear a person is at the end of their life. If your friend has an intellectual, cognitive or developmental disability, they may also be eligible, by law, for two patient support persons of their choice, so look into other options if at all possible.

But no matter what the policies are, stay connected however you can. Depending on how busy they are, hospital staff may be able to help you by holding the phone for your friend or offering them a few minutes of their time to help you get connected with your friend. If the friend is conscious and able, a smartphone can go a long way to helping them feel less alone—texting, even watching movies together can take the edge off of the loneliness and help keep the person connected to the outside world. It may be a challenge but good friends show their true colors in times like these, do they not?

The longer this pandemic spans, the more likely we all are to know someone hard hit by it in one way or another. Our editors know several already. Maybe you do, too. But as they say, we're in this together, and that last part, the togetherness, is what will get us through. We hope you'll keep compassion for those around you, and do what you can to ease your friend’s suffering. They’d do the same for you, right?

Copyright 2020, Wellness.com

8/3/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
Wellness Exists to Empower Health Conscious Consumers. Wellness.com helps people live healthier, happier and more successful lives by connecting them with the best health, wellness and lifestyle information and resources on the web.
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It would be nice if I was able to save this or share this with a link to facebook with my friends. Really good reminder.
Posted by Angie Klinkerman
What are your tips if the sick person is your spouse or your fiance?
Posted by Gary Thomasson
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