Quarantine and Isolation

Quarantine and isolation are important public health interventions that slow the spread of COVID-19 by preventing exposure to people who have, or are more likely to have, this contagious disease.


What is quarantine?

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to a contagious disease away from others and monitors them to see if they become sick.  Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms.  A person who is identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine. 

People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

How do I quarantine?

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you may be infected even if you don’t currently have symptoms.  You should quarantine to protect your family, friends and community.


  • Stay home except to get medical care.  If you have other health conditions, closely monitor any new or existing symptoms and check-in with your healthcare provider.
  • Wear a mask when around others, including others in your household.
  • Stay away from people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, including people age 65 years or older and those with a chronic disease or weakened immune system.
  • Use a separate bathroom if available.  If not possible, clean and disinfect the bathroom after each use.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Wipe down surfaces that you touch frequently.
  • Get some fresh air.  Open windows for ventilation or take a walk outside where you will not be in contact with other people.
  • Monitor your health: Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
    Symptoms of COVID-19 may include:
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

If you develop any symptoms, you should get tested.

  • Call 911 if you have emergency warning signs such as difficulty breathing, pressure or pain in your chest, bluish lips or face, confused or hard to wake, or other serious symptoms.


  • Go to work, school or public areas
  • Allow visitors
  • Prepare or serve food to others

CDC quarantine scenarios are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html.

When can a person be released from quarantine?

On December 2nd, CDC updated their guidelines for quarantine of close contacts of individuals with COVID-19.  The following will be our updated policy.  Keep in mind that the incubation period for COVID is still 2 – 14 days and people can still develop symptoms later in that time period.  We will be asking close contacts to monitor their symptoms for the full 14 days regardless of their quarantine period.
The options for reducing quarantine time for close contacts are as follows:

  • The last day of exposure is Day Zero (0).
  • Quarantine can end after Day 7 (on Day 8) if the close contact has a negative result from a sample collected on Day 5 or later and if no symptoms were experienced during daily monitoring. Quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than Day 8.

Note: Testing on or before Day 4 will not qualify as a negative test for the asymptomatic early release options – even if that initial test was negative.  A negative test does not mean that you no longer need to monitor yourself for symptoms. If you test negative and you start to feel sick you may need to be tested again.

  • Quarantine can end after Day 10 (on Day 11) without testing and if no symptoms were experienced during daily monitoring.
  • Persons can continue to quarantine for 14 days without testing per existing recommendations. This option maximally reduces risk of transmission. It is important to remember that there may be situations when this may be the most appropriate option and will remain our strongest recommendation but not required.

Note: After release from quarantine (regardless of date of release), self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 illness MUST continue through Day 14.  Also, all recommended interventions MUST be adhered to including: correct and consistent mask use, social distancing, hand and cough hygiene, environmental cleaning and disinfection, avoiding crowds and ensuring adequate indoor ventilation. 

  • Household contacts with continuous contact (example: child is too young to self-isolate or impossible to separate in the home), quarantine will start after the last day of isolation for positive individual.
  • If any symptoms develop, the close contact should immediately self-isolate and contact public health or healthcare provider to report this change in status and to assess for testing.

Example of when a person can be released from quarantine:

Jane Doe was in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. She was considered a close contact when the investigation revealed that she was within 6’ of this person (whose identity is confidential) for 15 minutes or more. She was with the person on December 2, 2020 and again when she returned to the person’s house the next day, on December 3, 2020.
Jane Doe’s date of contact is based on the last time that she was a close contact of the person who was diagnosed with COVID-19. Her date of contact is 12/3/2020- which is also her “Day Zero”.

Jane’s 14 day quarantine time (where she only leaves her home to seek medical care) would end on 12/17/2020 and she would be released on 12/18/2020.

  • If Jane is not experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, then she would have options that were recently provided from the CDC for asymptomatic early release.
  • If Jane chooses to be tested for COVID-19, she may be tested on “Day 5” or later (12/8/2020-12/10/2020) and if the test is negative then she may be released on “Day 8” (12/11/2020) if the results are received and confirmed at or before that time.
  • If Jane chooses not to be tested, she may be released from quarantine as asymptomatic on “Day 10” (12/13/2020)
  • If Jane is symptomatic, then she will need to remain in quarantine for the full 14 days.

*It is important for Jane to continue to monitor her symptoms for the full 14 days regardless of whether she has experienced symptoms previously or not. The incubation period of Coronavirus is 2-14 days after. The spread of Coronavirus can begin 48 hours before a person tests positive or experiences symptoms. It is also important that if Jane does experience symptoms after release for her to self isolate and contact the Health Department right away.


What is isolation?

A person who tests positive for COVID-19 will be asked to isolate.  Isolation is used to separate people infected with a contagious disease, whether symptomatic or not, from people who are not infected.

People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others.  In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).  


How do I isolate?

COVID-19 is very contagious.  If you have tested positive or have symptoms of COVID-19, you should isolate to prevent spreading the disease to your family, friends, and community.

  • Stay home except to get medical care.  If you have other health conditions, closely monitor any new or existing symptoms and check-in with your healthcare provider.
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
  • Do not allow visitors.
  • Use a separate bathroom if available.  If not possible, clean and disinfect the bathroom after each use.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Disinfect any surfaces you touch frequently.
  • If you must be in a shared space, stay at least 6 feet away from others and wear a mask.  Open windows if possible.
  • Monitor your symptoms.  Call 911 if you have emergency warning signs such as difficulty breathing, pressure or pain in your chest, bluish lips or face, confused or hard to wake, or other serious symptoms.

CDC guidance for isolation is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html.

How do I care for someone who has tested positive?

Instructions for Caregivers/Household Members:

If you are providing care for a family or household member who has been diagnosed with COVID- 19, stay home and be alert for the development of any of the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Subjective or measured fever >100.4
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion/runny nose
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Basic Needs

  • Help your family/household member with basic home needs like mail, garbage and laundry.
  • Arrange for grocery shopping, needed medications, and personal needs.

Monitor family/household member’s symptoms:

  • If your family/household member gets sicker, call their healthcare provider to let them know that you are caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and they are getting worse.
  • If your family/household member has a medical emergency, call 911 and let the dispatcher know that you are requesting help for someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is on home isolation.

Separate yourself and other family/household members from the ill person as much as possible:

  • If available, the ill person should have use of his or her own bathroom.
  • Do not allow visitors in the home unless it is essential.
  • Wear a facemask when in the same room with your ill family/household member.
  • Do not share household items with your ill family/household member.
  • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, utensils, towels, bedding or other items.
  • After the patient uses household items, wash them thoroughly.
  • Make sure shared spaces have good airflow. Open a window or use an air conditioner when possible.

Wear gloves and a facemask if you have contact with your ill family/household member’s blood, stool, body fluid (saliva, sputum, vomit, urine).

  • Use disposable gloves and facemasks and throw out after each use. Do not reuse.
  • When removing gloves and facemasks: first remove and dispose of gloves, immediately wash your hands, then remove and dispose of facemask and wash hands again.

Practice good hand hygiene:

  • Wash your hands often using soap and water.
  • If you are unable to use soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.

Cover your cough and sneezes:

  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Clean high-touch surfaces daily

  • Wear gloves when cleaning high-touch surfaces.
  • High-touch surfaces include: counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
  • Clean any surface that may have blood, stool, or body fluids.
  • Use a household cleaning spray or wipe according to label instructions.

Wash laundry thoroughly

  • Wear disposable gloves when handling soiled items and keep them away from your body.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing/bedding that has been soiled with blood, stool, or body fluids.

When can a person be released from isolation?

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms are considered recovered and can stop isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days* have passed since symptom onset and:
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • All other symptoms have improved.
  • Persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 who never develop COVID-19 symptoms can stop isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

*A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, that may warrant extending duration of isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Consider consultation with infection control experts.

COVID-19 Information Links

Avoiding COVID-19

Staying Healthy

COVID-19 Testing


Quarantine and Isolation


Reopening and guidance for businesses

Business Guidance

Skip to content