Unfortunately, COVID-19 is an unwelcome guest in the world that is either keeping us trapped at home. Or we’re feeling on edge with our masks on every time we step out, imagining COVID symptoms in everyone we encounter.

And if you live with roommates, an inevitable panic can set in, even in our safe spaces at home. You find yourself worrying about your roommate contracting the coronavirus if they’re an essential worker, or if they’re stepping out more often than required. Each time they come back home, you may have had some unwelcome thoughts entering your head.

While you don’t need to be worried all the time, there are some basic guidelines you should be aware of to cope with shared housing in times of coronavirus. While the CDC says most people have mild COVID-19 illness and can recover at home without medical care, it is better to get tested to be sure and stay safe.

If you can see signs that your roommate has COVID symptoms, it’s always best that they get tested. In the meantime, this guide will help you navigate shared living.

1. Practise the COVID-19 social distancing within your home

In a situation like this, it is best to physically isolate your sick roommate to a separate room, so that they are comfortable moving around in that space without worrying about infecting the other members of the house. And you will be comfortable, too. This includes having a separate bathroom, if that’s possible.

But if you live in a small apartment where the number of rooms is limited, make sure your roomi has a physically isolated space in the home you share. Keep your activities separate and try to keep a distance between you and your sick roommate at all times. If you share a bathroom, advise your roomi to use a toiletry bag instead of keeping their things on the counter. Also, keep all dishes, towels, electronics, and gadgets separate. In this case, NOT sharing is caring.

2. Stay in touch (emotionally)

If your roommate has COVID symptoms, they are more scared than you are! While you practice social distancing and avoid any physical contact with your sick roommate, do remember to check in on them emotionally. Take advantage of your thin walls, and talk through them, or sit by their door and make conversation. You could drop in notes for your sick friend to let them know you care about their well-being. Or just call or text them on their phone. Admit it: you guys always used to text from the other room just because getting out of bed was too much of an effort. So put that practice to good use now.

If you need to be around your sick roommate physically, both of you should wear masks and you should thoroughly wash your hands after each visit.

3. Help your sick roommate out with food & laundry

To avoid the risk of exposure, it is best to prepare food for your roommate and deliver it to their room. Once they’ve eaten, carry all dirty dishes and whatever else they might have touched with gloves on. Sanitize everything they’ve touched in hot water before you wash them. You can do your roomi’s laundry with gloves on as well. Once you’ve rinsed them, you can wash their load with yours without any risk of exposure.

4. Quarantine yourself too

If you live in a household where coronavirus is present, you should avoid going out too. Even if one roommate has COVID symptoms, opt for no contact deliveries for COVID essentials or ask a neighbor or friend to help. Stay in with your roommate, even if you don’t feel sick. After they’ve recovered, all members of your household should self-quarantine for another two weeks, at least.

5. Keep up with high standards of hygiene

Make sure you frequently sanitize all countertops and surfaces your roommate might be coming in contact with. Except for entering their confined spaces, disinfect the other areas regularly. It would be best if you also practiced washing hands more often to stay safe.

6. Stay alert, but do not panic!

A situation like this could be panic-inducing, but don’t give in to the panic. What has happened has happened. The best thing you could do is be there for your friend while keeping your mental peace. It may feel like you have a lot on your plate if your roommate falls sick with the coronavirus, but remember that you’re strictly adhering to guidelines for your own health too.

These are trying times, but trust that you’ll come out of this victoriously!

Related: Help! I’m Stuck Coliving In Quarantine With Roommates I Don’t Like

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