Update from the COVID-19 Hunt County Task Force: The difference between quarantine and isolation


Update from the COVID-19 Hunt County Task Force

Quarantine and isolation are two terms you may have heard being used interchangeably but that mean two different things.


QUARANTINE is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.


ISOLATION is used to separate people infected with the virus—both those who are sick with COVID-19 AND those with NO SYMPTOMS—from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until they are cleared by their physician. If there are multiple people in the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific sick room and using a separate bathroom if available.

So how do I know which to do?

If you recently had contact with a person with COVID-19, you should QUARANTINE by staying home, EVEN IF YOU FEEL HEALTHY. Stay home until 14 days after your last exposure. During that time, check your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are waiting for test results, or have cough, fever, shortness of breath, or other symptoms, you should ISOLATE yourself from others, EVEN IF YOU FEEL HEALTHY. That means staying home and separating yourself from others. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care.

If you need to visit the doctor, call ahead. If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect staff and other patients. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.

Preventing COVID-19

As COVID-19 spreads in Hunt County, be alert for symptoms, practice social distancing, stay out of crowded places, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently.

You can help prepare you household by getting a working thermometer and respiratory medications, such as decongestants, expectorants and analgesics (acetaminophen and ibuprofen) and planning ways to help and care for people at higher risk, including the very young, older people, people with chronic disease and those people with compromised immune systems.

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