Tips to Live By

Quarantining & Isolating During COVID-19: Who Should Do It and How to Do It

Dec. 29, 2021 - Katie McCallum

Even if you're doing everything right, like getting vaccinatedwearing a mask, and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene, you may still find yourself in a situation where you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and/or are experiencing symptoms yourself.

Here's what you need to know about who should quarantine, who should isolate and how to do each the right way.

Who should quarantine?

If you have come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19, it's important to quarantine.

Close contact is defined as:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period while he or she is contagious

A person with COVID-19 can be contagious for:

  • The 1 to 2 days prior to testing positive or noticing symptoms
  • The 2 to 3 days after testing positive or noticing symptoms

The goal of self-quarantine is to prevent inadvertently spreading the virus to others by taking the safety measures needed to determine whether or not you're infected.

How you self-quarantine depends on whether or not you're recently vaccinated or, if you were vaccinated some time ago, whether or not you've gotten your COVID-19 booster.

If you've received your booster or completed your primary Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series less than 6 months ago or received your Johnson & Johnson shot less than 2 months ago, self-quarantine by:

  • Wearing a mask around others for 10 days
  • Monitoring yourself for symptoms
  • Getting tested 5 days after your exposure

If you are unvaccinated or it's been more than 6 months since your primary Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series or more than 2 months since your Johnson & Johnson shot, self-quarantine by:

  • Staying home for 5 days*
  • Monitoring yourself for symptoms
  • Getting tested 5 days after your exposure
  • Wearing a mask around others for an additional 5 days

*If you cannot stay home, wear a mask around others for 10 days

If you begin to show symptoms while self-quarantining — whether you are vaccinated or not — stay home and get tested as soon as possible.

If you test positive for COVID-19, it's time to self-isolate.

Who should isolate?

The CDC recommends isolation if you're infected with the virus — even if you don't have symptoms and even if you're vaccinated. (Related: What Should You Do After Testing Positive for COVID-19?)

If you've tested positive for COVID-19, don't panic, don't feel ashamed, but follow these six steps:

  1. Isolate, even from people in your home
  2. Alert people who've you've recently been in close contact with that you've tested positive as soon as possible, recommending that they follow the self-quarantine steps above
  3. Alert your doctor, especially if your symptoms are moderate to severe (including a fever of 100.4 or higher and shortness of breath)
  4. Monitor your symptoms
  5. Continue to isolate following the CDC's guidelines
  6. Make a plan to get vaccinated or get your booster once you've recovered

It's important to keep an eye on your symptoms. Many people may only experience mild symptoms that can be managed at home, but some people can get seriously sick while ill with COVID-19.

Seek emergency care if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Inability to stay awake
  • Confusion
  • Bluish lips or face
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Categories: Tips to Live By