The United States now has the most cases of coronavirus in the world.
As more and more people are grappling with the effects of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, figuring out exactly who needs to know can be difficult.
Celebrities like Tom Hanks and Andy Cohen have used their positive diagnosis in part to show the general public that even the rich and famous are not immune and to motivate others to continue to practice social distancing. But for private citizens, deciding who to tell comes with its own set of complexities.
“All these ethical and moral decisions and your social obligations are all context-specific,” Monica Schoch-Spana, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Time.
While things to consider include if you live in a multi-generational household or in an area under a stay-at-home order, it’s clear you should tell anyone you are in close contact with on a daily basis.
“Anybody you live with has to know your condition,” says Stuart Finder, director of the Center of Healthcare Ethics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
With more and more people in self-isolation alongside roommates, partners and family, it’s important to disclose the information to them for their own safety.
Healthcare providers and caregivers should also be notified so they can decide if any masks or protective gear needs to be deployed.
Timothy Brewer, a professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, says people who are not under a stay-at-home order may need to tell employers if they are reporting to work and sitting within close proximity of fellow employees because it “would be a socially responsible thing to do.”
People living in states or cities under a stay-at-home order aren’t as obligated to reveal their diagnosis, if they’ve been adhering to the rules of the mandate.
“Once you have the stay-at-home order, what’s behind that is a presumption that anybody could be positive,” said Stuart Finder, director of the Center of Healthcare Ethics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “Hence the obligation for everyone to avoid close contact.”
Ultimately, it is up to you if you want to blast the information on social media, but be prepared to raise anxiety levels should people on your feed start panicking about the last time they were in contact with you.
Whether or not you get a positive coronavirus diagnosis, a good precaution is to assume everyone does have it and then act accordingly. So, cough in your sleeve, keep six feet away from everyone and wash your hands regularly.