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Social Distance, Quarantine and Isolation: What's the difference?

Social distancing is keeping a safe distance (at least 6 feet) between yourself and other people outside your household, both indoors and outdoors.

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.

Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.

Who should practice Social Distancing and when?

Everyone should practice social distancing during the pandemic to stop the spread and protect their families.

You stay away from public places as much as possible, and try to minimize your contact with people outside the group of people you live with – even when everyone feels perfectly healthy, and no one has any known exposure to COVID-19.

You may still leave the house for essentials like groceries, but you’ll make one big trip instead of several smaller ones, and you’ll try to go at a time of day when few other people will be there.

Who should isolate?

People who have COVID-19 symptoms and have a positive Covid-19 test.

People who have symptoms of COVID-19 and do not have Covid-19 test results and are able to recover at home.

People who have no symptoms (are asymptomatic) but have tested positive for COVID-19.

How do you isolate from others including household members?

Stay home except to get medical care.

Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately

Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.

Use a separate bathroom, if possible.

Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.

Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.

Wear a mask when around other people, if you are able to.

Who should quarantine?

A member of our your household has been exposed to a known Covid Positive Person. The household member does not have symptoms.

This person should quarantine from the rest of the family until they have a negative test result.

They should get tested on Day 7-8 after the exposure.

If the test is negative, and they never developed symptoms of Covid, they can end their quarantine on day 10.

Here is some of what we know about the virus that causes COVID-19:

Transmission from person-to-person is primarily through respiratory droplets.

Droplets are larger, heavier (but still microscopic) particles in respiratory secretions that are expelled through breathing, talking, coughing, or sneezing and generally travel only about six feet before they fall to ground.

Transmission usually occurs via two main routes:

1)close-range contact when droplets from an infected individual are inhaled by someone else, which is why it is always necessary to wear face masks and practice appropriate physical distancing.

2) direct contact of droplets from an infected individual with mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth of someone else. This is the rationale for frequent hand hygiene, avoiding shared food sources, and physical/social distancing.

Airborne transmission, in which expelled respiratory particles much smaller than droplets can remain suspended in air for longer periods of time and travel longer distances, can occur but does not appear to be the primary mode of transmission.


It takes on average 3-5 days for symptoms to appear after infection and about 8 days more for infected people to no longer be contagious.

Following the 3-5 day incubation period after exposure, infected individuals are most contagious in the earlier stages of illness, beginning probably about 2 days before symptom onset and peaking in the early symptomatic phase. The period of infectiousness appears to last to day 7-10 of illness.

It is important to remember that COVID tests may not detect virus during the incubation period or in the early phase of infection.

Transmission risk varies by type and duration of exposure and can be reduced by adherence to proven infection control practices (i.e. diligent hand washing, physical distancing, face masks, no shared food sources, do not come to work with symptoms).

The highest risks appear to be among household contacts and prolonged contact with infected individuals in indoor and congregate settings.