Told to Quarantine? Here’s What You Need to Know

Toni Phillips, Staff Writer

There isn’t a person around who isn’t familiar with the term “quarantine” nowadays. Whether you’ve seen it on the news, heard it from a friend, or had to partake in it yourself, all the world is eerily familiar with the act of staying home for extended periods of time and minimizing exposure to sickness. However, there is some confusion as to exactly what the word quarantine means. Do you have to lock yourself in your bedroom? When can you leave your house again? Check out the quarantine guidelines below (and click the links at the end of the article for official coronavirus information):

Stay home. You must not go to school, work, or any other public areas for 14 days from when you last had close contact with someone who tested positive for the Coronavirus (“close contact” includes being within 6 feet of the person for a total of 15 minutes or more, providing care for someone who is ill, having direct contact such as hugging, sharing eating or drinking utensils, and/or got respiratory droplets on you). 

Monitor your symptoms. Regularly check your temperature and watch for fever (100.4℉ or higher), cough, shortness of breath, and other Coronavirus symptoms. 

Avoid contact with high risk individuals. You should be trying to minimize contact with everybody, but especially those who are immunocompromised, seniors, or have other high risk factors. If you can, stay in a separate room and away from others who live with you. Use a separate bathroom and avoid sharing plates, utensils, towels, etc.

Clean regularly and well. This includes surfaces that are touched often, such as tabletops, doorknobs, counters, etc. It is also a good idea to deep clean your house once it is free of the Coronavirus.

There is a difference between quarantine and isolation. Isolation separates sick people from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to see if they become sick. If you are isolating, you would stay in one room and avoid contact with all other people in your household. If you are simply quarantining, you would stay in your home and avoid public places.

It is important to quarantine after any exposure to the Coronavirus, even if you do not feel ill. Many people can be asymptomatic, meaning they do not show symptoms but can still spread the virus. It is crucial that you complete your 14 day quarantine even if you feel well.

Most importantly, exercise extreme caution and take immediate action if you think you have been exposed. The Coronavirus can be fatal and can have lasting consequences for anyone, no matter your age or health conditions (or lack thereof). 

Check out these links for more information on quarantining and travel:

The CDC’s guidelines on when and how to quarantine

New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory