Should I self-quarantine or self-isolate? How does it work?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, self-monitoring and self-quarantine is recommended to see if you get sick.

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolation is recommended so that you do not pass the virus to others.

If you think you may have been exposed or test positive for COVID-19, it is very important to stay home and limit your interaction with others in your household and in public as much as possible. Stay at least six feet apart from others and avoid having any unnecessary visitors, especially people who are at high risk of severe illness.

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to three months, as long as you do not develop symptoms.

For more information on self-isolation and self-quarantine, click here.

If you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19 or that you have been exposed to the virus, you should consult your place of work for specific guidance about whether to stay home or continue working. You should adhere to recommendations set forth by your employer or the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines.

What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Isolation and quarantine are both ways to limit your interaction with others to prevent the spread of disease.

  • Isolation is separating individuals with COVID-19 from people who are not sick. Individuals are separated for a period of time until they are no longer infectious.
  • Quarantine is separating individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 from people who are not sick. They are separated for a period of time to see if they develop symptoms.

For more information on self-isolation and self-quarantine, click here​.

If you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19 or that you have been exposed to the virus, you should consult your place of work for specific guidance about whether to stay home or continue working.​ ​You should adhere to recommendations set forth by your employer or the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines.

If someone in my household has to quarantine, should I quarantine as well?

If someone in your household is told to quarantine because they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should quarantine as well. This is especially true if you’ve been in close contact with that person. It’s possible for you to have the virus even if you don’t have symptoms. You do not need to quarantine if you have had COVID-19 in the last three months, have recovered, and do not have symptoms. If you have questions about whether or not you should quarantine, contact your healthcare provider.

For more information on self-isolation and self-quarantine, click here.

Is there a difference between stopping isolation vs. stopping quarantine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ​guidelines recommend considering different factors when deciding to stop isolation or quarantine:

  • Those who have been​ ​infected with COVID-19​ should isolate. They may be able to stop isolating once symptoms have improved, and it has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared. ​Some symptoms such as loss of taste or smell may last for weeks or months and should not delay ending isolation. ​Those who have never had symptoms may be able to stop isolating 10 days after testing. However, those who had severe illness from COVID-19, or people with a weakened immune system, may need to isolate longer than 10 days or may require testing to determine when they can be around others.
  • Those who have​ been possibly​ exposed to COVID-19​ should quarantine. They may be able to stop quarantining if they don’t develop symptoms, and it has been at least 14 days after possible exposure. ​Although 14 days is recommended, the CDC suggests that some individuals may be able to quarantine for a shorter period of time. Individuals without symptoms can end quarantine at day 10 without testing, or at day 7 if they receive a negative test result on day 5 or later. The length of time to quarantine may be decided by your state or local department of health. You should adhere to recommendations set forth by the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines.​ Those who’ve been possibly exposed to COVID-19 but ​have already had COVID-19 in the last three months, recovered, and do not have symptoms, do not need to quarantine.

Please note that it’s possible for a person ​diagnosed w​ ith COVID-19 to stop isolation before someone ​possibly exposed​ can stop quarantining.

For more information on self-isolation and self-quarantine, click here.

Who should quarantine?

Anyone who may have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine. Close contact includes:

  • Being within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period
  • Providing care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • Direct physical contact with someone who has COVID-19 (hugged or kissed them)
  • Sharing eating or drinking utensils with someone who has COVID-19
  • Being exposed to respiratory droplets from someone who has COVID-19 (being sneezed or coughed on)

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to three months, as long as they do not develop symptoms.

I’m traveling soon. Do I need to quarantine?

Depending on where you’re going, you may need to quarantine at your destination if there are entry requirements and restrictions. Be sure to check ​state, territorial​, ​tribal​ and local public health websites for more information on travel quarantines. International travelers should check with the Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the ​US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information page​ for more details.

When should I start and end quarantine?

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should quarantine for 14 days. This period begins from the last close contact you had with someone who has COVID-19, even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy. Although 14 days is recommended, the CDC suggests that some individuals may be able to quarantine for a shorter period of time. Individuals without symptoms can end quarantine at day 10 without testing, or at day 7 if they receive a negative test result on day 5 or later. The length of time to quarantine may be decided by your state or local department of health. You should adhere to recommendations set forth by the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines.

If you live in a household where you cannot avoid close contact with the person who has COVID-19, ​you should quarantine immediately. You will need to continue to quarantine for 14 days after the person meets criteria to end home isolation, as recommended by the CDC, unless otherwise specified. In some situations, this time period may be shorter than 14 days.

For additional questions about when to start or stop quarantine, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.

When can I stop in-home isolation?

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, please check with your primary healthcare provider or local health department to help determine when it’s right to stop isolation. Typically this is done when fever and symptoms improve and 10 days have passed since symptoms started. Some symptoms, such as loss of taste or smell, may last for weeks or months and should not delay ending isolation. If you do not have symptoms, you may be able to stop isolating 10 days after your test was performed. Be sure to continue to follow federal, state, and local government guidance regarding social distancing and isolation. For more information, please visit the ​CDC website.

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