Exposed to coronavirus? Know when to insulate versus quarantine

Health officials and health care workers are appealing to Americans to practice safe public health measures such as wearing a mask, avoiding cramped areas, washing their hands and exercising social distance to avoid getting or spreading coronavirus. But between Friday and Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than 3 million passengers at airports, increasing the likelihood of potential COVID-19 exposure.

If you have been or possibly have been exposed to COVID-19, it is important to know what to do to best protect yourself and those around you, such as what “quarantine” means against “isolation”.

Knowing when to isolate versus quarantine can help protect you and others.

Knowing when to isolate versus quarantine can help protect you and others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), quarantine is for people who believe that they may have had close contact with someone who has had COVID-19 and means staying away from others for the recommended time period. Isolation is meanwhile for those who are ill or tested positive for COVID-19, even without symptoms, and requires those who are ill or infected to stay away from others, even in their own home.


If you have had close contact with a person who has COVID-19, the CDC says that the best way to protect yourself and others is to stay at home and be quarantined for 14 days after the last contact. Local health departments may have additional guidance on how to shorten the quarantine period, such as negative testing or waiting a certain amount of days to see if symptoms develop. Those who are in quarantine should check the temperature twice daily, follow up on additional symptoms and stay away from people who are at high risk of getting severe disease from COVID-19.

On the other hand, those who are ill or think they may have COVID-19, or have had a positive test result, should stay at home and isolate until after at least ten days after the symptoms first appear, or until at least 24 hours have no fever without medication or symptoms have improved.


Those who isolate should also “stay in a specific” sick room “or area and away from other people or animals, including pets,” the CDC said. It is also recommended to use a separate bathroom. Asymptomatic COVID-19 patients should stay at home and isolate until 10 days have elapsed since the positive test.