June 11, 2021

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How to avoid contagion in a shared home with unvaccinated people


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Perhaps you live in a shared home with people who are reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or who for some reason or reason do not want or decide not to get vaccinated. For this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English) have prepared guidelines to coexist and avoid contagion.

Shared or group housing includes apartments, condominiums, student or teacher residences, state and national park staff housing, transitional housing, and shelters for victims of abuse and domestic violence.

Shared housing residents often meet for social, recreational, and leisure gatherings, sharing mealtimes, laundry facilities, stairs, and elevators where they are in close contact, and may find it difficult to maintain their distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC recommends that you be flexible, the rules may be different in common areas. Keep 6 feet of social (physical) distance between you and anyone you don’t live with. This may imply that there are alternative activities, canceled activities or that some areas are closed.

If you see people in tight areas, such as stairs and elevators, consider taking them in turns. The following are some examples of how the rules can change in common spaces:

Kitchens, dining rooms, laundries, shared bathrooms

  • Access should be given, but the number of people should be restricted, so that everyone can maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other.
  • People who are sick, their roommates, and those who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 should eat (or be fed) in their rooms, if possible.
  • Do not share plates, glasses, silverware, cups, or kitchen utensils. Non-disposable utensils and tableware should be handled with gloves and washed in hot water and dish soap or in a dishwasher.
  • Guidelines for laundry, such as laundry and handling instructions, should be published.
  • Sinks can be a source of infection and placing toothbrushes directly on countertops should be avoided. Small bags can be used for personal items, so that they do not come into contact with the bathroom counter.

The CDC recommends that the ill person, their roommates, and close contacts adhere to voluntary isolation and limit their use of common spaces as much as possible.



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