Q: How do you address the quarantine situation if one of your roommates tests positive for COVID-19?

A: You want to have designated rooms and designated spaces. The person who tested positive gets the bedroom with the bathroom attached, if there is one. You also want to keep belongings separate — coats and hats shouldn’t be hung up together. That’s huge. We always say, “Practice makes permanent,” so do the same things every day. Don’t switch it up.

What happens if you don’t have multiple bedrooms? The person who did not test positive sleeps on the couch or pullout mattress in the living room. If you don’t have a second restroom, make sure the one you have gets cleaned vigorously every day. Keep towels and washcloths in the designated rooms, not in the bathroom. That’s extremely important as well.

Another important aspect is mental wellness. If you have a second TV in the bedroom, you can watch the same program and text each other during the show. We encourage the healthy person to wear a mask whenever they are in a shared area.

DR. Christoper Colbert, assistant emergency medicine residency director and professor of clinical emergency medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago


A: We should revisit the rules we all are aware of, such as staying 6 feet from one another, not sharing household items, avoiding being in the same room and not sharing phones or watching videos or movies together.

But we shouldn’t be paranoid. If you want to be a truly good roommate, make a dish or prepare a cup of soup for your sick roommate. We don’t want the sick person to feel ignored and isolated or to get the impression that they are a burden to the rest of us. We should all work as a team to create a great environment for our roommate, opening the windows for fresh air, offering to buy things the roommate might need and, in general, trying to be good people.

In many situations, the roommate might not have any family in town, and vulnerable people need strong support. I hope we all can be good roommates during these difficult times and support one another mentally, emotionally and physically.

Maryanne Parker, etiquette expert