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continue to respond to this national emergency.


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Coronavirus Update 7-7-2020: Do you know the difference between quarantine and isolation?


During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we've heard the words "quarantine" and "isolation" used a lot. While a thesaurus might list them as synonymous, in this context they are not. 

According to the CDCquarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others and helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick; isolation separates people who are infected with the virus from people who are not infected.

Because these terms serve different purposes during this pandemic, these also have different recommended courses of action.

Per the CDC, quarantine should last for 14 days after close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. "Close contact" is defined as:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.
  • Having provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • Having had direct physical contact with a person who has COVID-19 (touched, hugged, or kissed them).
  • Sharing eating or drinking utensils with a person who has COVID-19.
  • A person with COVID-19 sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.

In these cases, you are recommended to stay at home for at least 14 days after your last close contact, watch your health for any possible COVID-19  symptom, including a fever of at least 100.4 degrees and shortness of breath, and if possible stay away from others including those at high risk for COVID-19 complications.

Isolation is required of people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are able to recover at home, and of people who have tested positive. The CDC requires these people to stay home (except for medical care), and further to

  • Monitor symptoms. 
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
  • Not share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Wear a cloth face covering when around other people, if able.

Individuals with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis with symptoms should remain in isolation for either of: 1) being three days fever-free, respiratory symptoms have improved, and it's been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared; or 2) the receipt of two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Individuals with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms should remain in isolation for 10 days from the test.

Employers, now that you know these rules, manage your employees accordingly to avoid bringing COVID-19 into your business.

* Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash