Quarantine vs. Isolation | Sturdy Memorial Hospital | Attleboro, MA

Published on April 03, 2020

Quarantine Vs. Isolation

You’ve probably been hearing a lot of about quarantine and isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, but did you know that these terms have different meanings? We're breaking down the meaning of each so you can understand how to prevent spreading the virus to your friends, family, and community.

Quarantine

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you may be required to quarantine (separate) yourself from other people to avoid spreading the virus to others.

During your quarantine period, you should not have visitors in your home. The other people who live in your home can continue to do their normal activities as long as they are not in contact with you, as described further below, and not also under quarantine. If you test positive for COVID-19 and someone comes into contact with you that person might also then need to be quarantined.

While you are in quarantine you should follow these instructions:

  1. Do not leave your home except for urgent medical care. If you must leave your home for urgent medical care, wear a mask, such as a surgical mask, if available. Call your healthcare provider before you go and tell them that you are quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. For the protection of others, you should use a personal car to travel to your healthcare provider. Do not take public transportation, ride shares (e.g. Uber or Lyft), or taxis under any circumstance.
  2. Wear a mask, such as a surgical mask, if available, if you must be in contact with other people. If not available try to maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less.
  3. Do not have visitors in your home.
  4. To the extent possible, stay six feet away from other people in your home. If absolutely necessary, have one person help you and do not have contact with other people in your home. Wear a mask, such as a surgical mask, if available when in the same room as that person. If not available try to maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw tissues away in a lined waste container. Then wash your hands.
  6. Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time you wash. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  7. If possible, use a separate bedroom and bathroom. Do not share towels or bed sheets/blankets with other people in your home. Wash your laundry separately from the laundry of other people in your home.
  8. Do not share eating or drinking utensils. Wash utensils normally in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.

How long should I remain in quarantine?

You may need to remain quarantined for at least 14 days from the date of last exposure. A public health authority (MDPH or your local board of health) will be in contact with you and will tell you when you can stop quarantining yourself.

Isolation

If you have been diagnosed as a confirmed case of infection with COVID-19 or because you had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 and now have symptoms, you will be required to isolate yourself from others.

You must remain in isolation until a public health authority (the Massachusetts Department of Public Health or your local Board of Health) tells you can leave your home. A public health authority will be in contact with you daily and will conduct another assessment 14 days after the date your infection is confirmed. A public health authority will confirm that you may leave your home once the risk of infecting others is determined to be low.

During the isolation period, you may not have visitors in the location where you are isolating. If you must share living quarters with another person, then that person will be subject to quarantine.

While you are in isolation you should follow these instructions:

  1. Do not leave your home except for urgent medical care. If you must leave your home for urgent medical care, wear a mask, such as a surgical mask, if available. If not available try to maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less. Call the healthcare provider before you go and tell them that you have COVID-19 infection. For the protection of others, you should use a personal car to travel to your healthcare provider. Do not take public transportation, ride shares (e.g. Uber or Lyft), or taxis under any circumstance.
  2. Wear a mask, such as a surgical mask, if available if you must be in contact with another person. If not available try to maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less.
  3. Do not have visitors in your home.
  4. If possible, other people should not be living in your home while you are in isolation there.
  5. Do not share a bedroom or bathroom with anyone else.
  6. Do not share towels or bed sheets/blankets with other people.
  7. Wash your laundry separately from the laundry of other people.
  8. Do not share eating or drinking utensils with other people. Wash utensils normally in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.
  9. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and throw tissues away in a lined waste container. Then wash your hands.
  10. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

How long should I remain in Isolation?

You will need to remain isolated for as long as it is possible for you to spread the infection to others. A public health authority (MDPH or your local board of health) will be in contact with you and will tell you when you can stop isolating yourself.

Anyone you have to come in contact with in your household during quarantine or isolation should:

  1. Remain aware of their health and watch themselves for:
  1. A fever (temperature over 100.3 degrees). They should take their temperature in the morning and at night.
  2. Other symptoms such as a cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chills, stiff or sore muscles, headache, or diarrhea.
  3. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  4. Wear a mask, such as a surgical mask, if available, when they are in close contact with you if you cannot wear a mask. If not available try to maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less. They should be careful to only touch the parts of the mask that go around the ears or behind the head. Do not touch the front of the mask. They should wash their hands immediately with soap and water after taking the mask off.
  5. Wear disposable gloves if they need to have direct contact with your body fluids (saliva/spit, mucous, urine, feces, vomit) or handle your dirty laundry. Remove the gloves carefully without touching the outside of the gloves, throw the gloves away, and wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

If symptoms of COVID-19 arise, make sure to call your doctor’s office prior to going anywhere for medical assistance. If you have additional questions about COVID-19, please call our Community HOTLINE at 508-236-7676. Calls are answered by clinical staff Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Reviewed by Public Relations on April 03, 2020