Woman Opens Empty House to Medical Staff As a Safe Place to Rest Between Tending to Coronavirus Patients

In a great act of kindness, one Las Vegas woman has donated her empty house to hospital workers, so they can rest for free in between looking after those suffering from COVID-19.

While treating COVID-19 patients, many medical workers are spending time away from their families to avoid potentially contaminating loved-ones with the disease. The COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces for hours, days and potentially weeks, depending on the surface.

Alona Burns has made sure her empty house is full of provisions for the key workers. It has five rooms and can sleep up to six people. She told CNN: "We stocked the house with all supplies needed: coffee, tea, creamer, sugar, water, paper towels, and precious toilet paper."

Hospital beds for COVID-19
Spaces around the world are being transformed to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Here workers set up beds at an exhibition centre that was converted into a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 4, 2020. STR/AFP via Getty Images

Burns is letting health workers stay for any period of time up to a month. So far she's already had an emergency room nurse stay who was previously sleeping in her car. "It was heartbreaking for me to hear," said Burns.

She hopes other homeowners with vacant properties will follow suit and donate their free spaces to the cause across the U.S.

Owners of local cleaning company Superb Maids told Burns they would clean her donated house for free. The company now offers a "fog" service with "hospital-grade disinfectants," explained co-founder of Superb Maids, Elena LeDoux.

Going home between shifts could potentially endanger the families of front-line medical staff, who may unintentionally bring the virus into their homes.

A letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine detailed how the COVID-19 virus could live on cardboard for up to a day and plastic and steel for up to 72 hours.

The U.S. now has more coronavirus cases than any other country, with some 368,000 people infected to date. There have been more than 10,000 deaths and over 20,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Burns joins a number of people and companies performing acts of kindness during the coronavirus pandemic. These range from landlords reducing rent and hotels offering up rooms to the homeless during the pandemic to beauty retailers such as The Body Shop donating hundreds of thousands of items to medical staff.

Celebrities offering money to coronavirus causes include Oprah Winfrey, who donated $10 million to America's Food Fund, and Rihanna who gave $5 million to the Clara Lionel Foundation, which has worked with Feeding America and The World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Dolly Parton gave $1 million to Vanderbilt University's coronavirus research, and Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively offered up $1 million to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.