What is quarantine?
Infectious diseases like COVID-19 can spread BEFORE you even have symptoms. Quarantine is a public health tool that helps keep people who were likely exposed to the virus and could be infectious, but who don’t have symptoms yet, away from others in the community – helping us to limit spreading the virus before we even know we’re sick.
Who should quarantine?
Individuals who had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should quarantine unless they are up-to-date on COVID vaccination. Close contacts are typically other people who live in the home – spouse, children, or parents – with someone with COVID-19. Close contacts can also be a significant other, intimate partner, close friend or family member who a person with COVID-19 had close physical contact with (shared a hug, shared eating utensils, or sat close to one another). Think a friend who came over for dinner, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or a cousin the sick person frequently visits in-person. Close contacts can also be someone who works with, goes to school with, plays sports with, shares a car ride with, or attends church or bible study with someone with COVID-19. In these work, school, religious and social settings, close contacts are the people within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for 15+ minutes throughout the course of the day. It may not be everyone in the workplace, school, church, team, or gathering – but it is anyone who was within 6 feet of the ill person for 15+ minutes. When we assess whether we were within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15+ minutes throughout the day, we must look at the 2 days prior to when the person’s symptoms started (or if they have no symptoms – 2 days before a positive test specimen was collected) until about 10 days after their symptoms (or if they have no symptoms, 10 days after a positive test specimen was collected).
Who does not need to quarantine?
If you came into close contact with someone with COVID-19 and you are up-to-date on your COVID vaccination, you do not need to quarantine. You should wear a mask for 10 days and monitor for symptoms. Up-to-date on COVID vaccination is defined as:
- You received a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine if eligible.
- You completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine within the past five months. (This includes a third dose if you are severely or moderately immunocompromised.)
- You received an initial Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine within the past two months.
- You had a confirmed COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days (you tested positive using a viral test).
If you are up-t0-date on your COVID vaccinations or had COVID within the past 90 days, you should still wear a well-fitting mask when around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0). Consider getting tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. If you test positive or develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate from other people and follow recommendations in the Isolation section.
What to do for quarantine?
- Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Stay home the next five days and watch for symptoms. Wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home, if possible.
- If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately and isolate at home until you receive your test results. If you test positive, follow isolation recommendations.
- If you do not develop symptoms, consider getting tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you test negative, you can leave your home, but continue to monitor for symptoms and wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home and in public until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you test positive, you should isolate for at least 5 days from the date of your positive test (if you do not have symptoms) or the date your symptoms started. Follow recommendations in the isolation section.
- If you are unable to get a test 5 days after last close contact with someone with COVID-19, you can leave your home after day 5 if you did not develop COVID-19 symptoms throughout the 5-day period. Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after your date of last close contact when around others at home and in public.
- Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
- If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, as well as others outside your home throughout the full 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you are unable to quarantine, you should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days when around others at home and in public.
- If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you should quarantine for 10 days. Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
- Do not travel during your 5-day quarantine period. Get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact and make sure your test result is negative and you remain without symptoms before traveling. If you don’t get tested, delay travel until 10 days after your last close contact with a person with COVID-19. If you must travel before the 10 days are completed, wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel during the 10 days. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during the 10 days.
- Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until after 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
Sample Quarantine Calendar if You Never Have Symptoms
Exposed to a friend, co-worker, extended family, etc.
* NOTE: If you have symptoms any time within the 10 days after exposure, stay home and test before returning to activities.
Sample Quarantine Calendar If You Live With a Person With COVID
& Person Can’t Isolate from Other Household Members
* NOTE: If you live with someone who has COVID, try to isolate the positive family member to their own area of the home and do not share the common areas of the home for 10 days. If you cannot isolate the positive person, then the last exposure date for household members starts 10 days after the positive family member starts to have symptoms.
Can I test out of quarantine?
Testing right after learning you had exposure to someone with COVID-19, especially if you have no symptoms, may not give you a true picture of whether you have or will develop COVID-19. The virus that causes COVID-19 can grow in your body for 2-14 days before you develop symptoms. Because of this long incubation period, a negative test earlier in your self-quarantine only tells you that you do not have a current viral load that produces a positive result. It does not mean that you have not contracted the virus. It does not mean you won’t become infectious and capable of spreading the virus to others even before symptoms develop.
Tips while self-quarantining
- Stay home. Do not go to work, school, grocery stores, restaurants, gatherings, extracurricular activities, or any other social or community places. If you have to get medicine, groceries or supplies, ask a friend or family member to deliver them to your porch. You can also call 2-1-1 or United Way of Union County to get connected to volunteers and resources that want to help you be successful. If you must, you could get curbside grocery or food – but you must wear your mask, and have the items placed in your trunk with no interaction with the worker.
- Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Look for signs and symptoms of illness that develop from 2-14 days after contact with a person with COVID-19. Do not ignore symptoms, COVID-19 symptoms can be mild in some people. A runny nose, congestion, slight cough, or fatigue can be symptoms of COVID-19. Other symptoms include fever (measured at over 100.4°F or subjective feverish or chills), sore throat, headache, body or muscle aches, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, loss of taste or smell. If you develop significant shortness of breath or chest pains, please call 9-1-1 or your local emergency department and notify them of your exposure and symptoms.
- Try to keep 6 feet from others in your home and wear a mask when you are in common areas with other family members who live with you will help protect them. Using a separate bedroom and bathroom from others in your home will also provide more protection for your family. Use a household disinfectant to wipe down your bathroom each day.
- Try to increase airflow and ventilation in your home. Open or crack windows if possible and clean air filters in your home.
What should I do if I develop symptoms?
- If you’ve had a known exposure to COVID-19 and start to develop symptoms, continue to stay home. Try to now isolate yourself to a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom from others in your home. Do not use the common areas in the home if possible.
- Testing is often recommended if you had a known exposure AND have symptoms. We encourage you to talk to your doctor first if you develop symptoms as they know your health best. Click here to link to Union County’s drive thru testing information.
What should I NOT do while I self-quarantine?
Do not leave your home. Do not invite others to your home. You can go outside and sit on your porch or in your yard, but you should not leave your home. Do not share eating utensils with others. Try to sleep in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom from others in your home.
Can I continue to work while in quarantine?
Most individuals who are self-quarantining should not go to work. If remote work is available, try to use this option.
There are some business sectors in which a critical infrastructure worker such as healthcare workers could continue to go to work while self-quarantining. This scenario should be discussed with your employer. If you are deemed to be a critical infrastructure employee, you can only go to work as long as you:
- Are symptom free
- Inform your employer of the situation
- You wear a mask the entire time and maintain social distance from others, and
- You only go to and from work/home.
If you begin to show ANY SYMPTOMS, you should immediately leave work and call your supervisor. Do not go to work if you develop any symptoms.
Most people who have mild illness that can be managed at home with out hospital care are considered no longer infectious to others after 10 days from when symptoms first began (or the date of a positive test if they never had symptoms). If you required hospital care for your illness, you may need to stay home longer. Please ask your doctor for recommendations.