What does it mean to self quarantine?

  • Much more severe than “social distancing”
  • Typically, people cannot leave their home, or, even their room

The key difference between true quarantine and social distancing measures is the degree of isolation. Those in self quarantine—including politicians like Sen. Rand Paul—cannot leave a designated space. For most, this means they cannot leave their home. However, if one individual in a home tests positive, they may be isolated in a single room.

When under quarantine, you cannot leave the space you’re confined to.  You can’t leave to get food, take walks or go to public spaces. It requires support from family and friends, or charities and local services to support those under quarantine.  

How do I know if I should self quarantine?

Whether or not to self quarantine if you haven’t tested positive for COVID-19 can be a tough call, but a good rule of thumb is to do so if you’ve had contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus. This means staying away from the people in your household for at least 14 days, not sharing any space or possessions to prevent possible spread.

The CDC recommends that people who have coronavirus isolate themselves as opposed to self quarantine. While quarantine is meant to see whether someone who has come into contact with the virus develops symptoms over the course of 14 days, isolation is meant to keep those who are officially sick away from others until they are well. 
Sources: University of Wisconsin Health, New York Times, CDC

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