What Not To Say To Someone Who Has COVID

More than 90 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of July of 2022 (via NBC News). And, more people are getting sick with COVID more than once according to Science. So, it's fair to say that you'll either be diagnosed with the virus or know someone who is infected in the near future.


Given these facts, in today's world it's valuable to know what to say to a person who has the virus, and what not to say. Among the words of encouragement that would be filed under positive things to offer up to a person with COVID are simply asking how they are doing both physically and emotionally according to Caring Bridge.

Indeed, while much is made of the symptoms of COVID, like a runny nose and fever, having to isolate and the fear surrounding a positive test can most certainly lead to stress and depression. The Mayo Clinic reports that in addition to these common mental health repercussions of COVID, insomnia may also result.

You'd be well advised to check in with someone who has COVID regularly and ask if there's anything you can bring them — and leave outside the door to avoid contact. But you will definitely want to steer clear of saying certain things to the sick person in your life.


Don't judge a person who has COVID

One of the worst things you can say to someone who has COVID is that they should have played it more safe with limiting their activities or masking (via Breaking News). The guidelines around how to keep yourself protected keep changing, and it's important to remember that the pandemic is stretching on for years, so it's impossible to be 100% safe each and every moment — heck, President Joe Biden got COVID (via Yale Medicine). It has also become common knowledge that some people can have COVID, but be asymptomatic, so you won't always know if you have been exposed.


Add to these considerations that most schools in the United States no longer offer remote learning options headed into the 2022-2023 school year, and that 44% of employers are not allowing their workers a remote option either (via U.S. News & World Report and Apollo Technical).

Finally, all U.S. states have dropped universal mask mandates as of July of 2022, although certain healthcare facilities may still require face coverings (via AARP). So ultimately, judging a person who has contracted COVID is far from helpful — regardless of their vaccination status.

Don't share scary stories or statistics

Whether it's your own less-than-pleasant experience getting over COVID, a story you read about someone who battles long COVID or a link to a site that offers the latest information about mounting infections in the area, sharing upsetting news about the virus with someone who has it is a big no-no (via Curatio).


By putting scary statistics in front of a sick person or imparting a tale of someone else who really suffered with the infection, you are only serving to ramp up a COVID-positive person's anxiety, which we know may already be at peak levels.

That said, you can also avoid swinging to the other extreme of brushing off the person's illness and promising they'll be totally fine (via Breaking News). Minimizing someone's experience will also not be helpful since the symptoms are so individual (via Global News).

The best middle ground is to listen to what the sick person is feeling without sharing upsetting news stories or acting like their diagnosis doesn't matter.

Don't make it all about you

If someone you know has COVID, chances are you could have been exposed if you were around them or live in their area. As such, one thing to avoid in talking to that person is making the conversation all about you.


Yes, you will want to monitor yourself for symptoms after a known exposure, or even test yourself if you feel so inclined. Masking in public settings can also help minimize the chances that you will spread the illness.

But when you speak to the person, constantly fixating on how their diagnosis affects you does them no favors and likely increases their sense of panic and fear about having COVID. Instead, listen, ask how you can help and then, in the privacy of your own home — or room if the person lives with you — feel free to focus back on your own health concerns.

Don't act like the person is a leper

As the Centers for Disease Control rightly point out, there is no need to stigmatize someone who has COVID. The bottom line is that we are all at risk and we are all in this together. As such, if someone you know has COVID, joking that you'll drop off food at the end of their driveway so you aren't exposed just makes them feel bad and isn't supportive.


While you most certainly have a right to worry about being exposed, making an infected person feel like there is something wrong with them is cruel and unnecessary. If you truly are worried about being in the same zip code as a person who has COVID, find ways to help them that don't put you at risk, such as buying them a Grubhub gift card or messaging them with words of encouragement throughout the day. Send a care package or suggest good movies to watch to take their mind off their loneliness while they isolate.

Finally, as long as the person has followed the latest guidelines with regards to quarantining and testing, once they have recovered from COVID, don't act like you need to keep your distance. They deserve a nice hug!