March 24 Update: Other research indicates longer survival times so I’ve changed the recommended number to match throughout. A five day quarantine looks to be effective for most materials that will be coming in from outside the home.
Previously, I had talked about keeping a temperature log of family members as a means of establishing baseline ranges and to move someone who is ill to separate quarters if possible. There is also some CDC guidance for households as well.
First, if you have hand sanitizer, put a bottle at all entrances to your home that are used, or if you don’t have enough, one at the most common entrance. People should use it immediately on entry. This is pretty much a standard procedure when going into patient rooms in hospitals. This will help keep you from spreading virus around in your home if your hands have become contaminated.
Second, I want to add some other related to objects you bring into your home. There is some research in the NEJM talking about the survival of the virus on surfaces. Using that, I decided how I’m going to quarantine goods coming into my home. Overall from these studies, it appears that 5 days should be the magic number on the surfaces studied. That doesn’t mean that it guarantees that it will be gone after that length of time, but that there should be a considerable reduction in risk of virus being on that surface. It’s a shorter time depending on the surface type, but to keep it simple and not have to remember those details, I’m going to use 5 days for each.
Mail. I’ll rotate out five bags for mail when I check my mailbox. After five days, I’ll feel pretty comfortable opening the mail inside the bag and then using that to get that days mail.
Delivered packages. Unless there is something perishable, is there any hurt in putting it in your garage for five days? Perform hand hygiene after moving them. On a side note, the entrance from your garage into your dwelling is an excellent place for some hand sanitizer.
Groceries. This might be a bit trickier. I’m hoping to keep dry goods, frozen, and refrigerated in separate bags. Dry goods are easy. Five days before coming out of their bags.
I’ve set aside separate spots in my refrigerator and freezer for those purchases and have told my family members which spots are off limits. If you are getting groceries more frequently than that right now, WHY?
Pets. Yes, most people love animals and want to pet them. However, I’ve had a number of people ask me about this. I wouldn’t pet anyone else’s dog if out for a walk. However, if you absolutely can’t resist, bring some hand sanitizer along so you can disinfect your hands as soon as your done with your canine encounter before touching anything else. If the owner is sick, it seems theoretically possible to have gotten virus on the dog’s coat. If I had a dog I was taking for a walk, I would ask people not to pet it, because you simply cannot know the hygiene habits of others.