If You're Hunkering Down

Questions about the coronavirus if you’re hunkering down

How long should I hunker down?

That’s a personal decision, unless there’s a state or local lockdown order (which would most likely exclude necessary errands such as grocery shopping and medical appointments). But the more people stay home, the more we’ll be able to minimize the spread of the virus — and save lives — while we wait for more people to get vaccinated. If you’re at high risk of severe illness with COVID-19, you definitely should stay home as much as possible, and follow CDC advice once you’re fully vaccinated.

When should I self-quarantine?

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 — unless you’re fully vaccinated or you’ve had a confirmed case of disease yourself within the past three months — you should stay at home and keep yourself away from others. (Even if you’re vaccinated, you should still quarantine if you live in a group setting.)

Close contact means being within two yards of someone with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, caring at home for the person, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or getting coughed or sneezed on.

The quarantine should last 14 days after your most recent contact with the person who has COVID-19. Be alert for a fever above 100.4 F, shortness of breath and other symptoms.

I’m healthy but hunkering down as a precaution. Should I go so far as to avoid drive-throughs and curbside pickup?

If you are healthy or fully vaccinated, you shouldn’t need to avoid these — if you wear a mask when interacting with workers, and if you wash your hands after contact with any workers and after handling the items you picked up. (But if you’re going out to load up on sugary drinks and unhealthy foods, then the AHA’s official answer is no, don’t go!)

I worry about emergencies at home. Is there an easy way to learn CPR?

Yes! It’s extremely easy. And, yes, it’s always a great idea to learn CPR, pandemic or not. You can learn about Hands-Only CPR here.

What are some healthy, affordable staple foods I can stock up on?

We have plenty of suggestions (even when you’re not hunkering down), but here are some common staples:

  • Canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables
  • Canned fish and meats like light tuna or white-meat chicken packed in water
  • Frozen chicken breasts 
  • Dried or canned beans and other legumes
  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice and quinoa 
  • Dried herbs and spices

Where can I find healthy recipes to try out while I’m stuck at home?

Glad you thought of it. We have some heart-healthy recipes here.

I’m feeling pretty glum about staying at home so much. How can I get help?

Mental health, especially in young adults, has definitely suffered since COVID-19 arrived at our shores. The CDC has compiled recommendations and resources to help.


HEALTH CARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediately.