COVID-19 is a new virus, and scientists are actively working to learn more about how it is spread. But public health professionals have been using isolation and quarantine successfully for many years to stop the spread of contagious diseases.
Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. This helps to prevent the spread of disease before a person realizes they are sick or if they are infected but don't have any symptoms. Since a person exposed to COVID-19 may develop infection anywhere from 2 - 14 days after they are exposed to the virus, it is recommended that they stay home in quarantine for the full 14 days. Local public health agencies may consider options to end quarantine sooner based on the local situation and individual needs.
If you are under quarantine, you should stay home, separate from family members, and monitor your health. Follow instructions from your local health department and call your doctor if you develop a fever or other COVID symptoms.
When can I leave quarantine?
It is important to stay home in quarantine for the full 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. The virus can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms in your body, so if you don't stay home, you could spread the COVID virus to other people without realizing it. Talk to your local public health agency if a 14-day quarantine will create a hardship.
While in quarantine, monitor your health. Watch for a fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19 to develop. Call your doctor if you develop symptoms.
Stay separated from other people while you are in quarantine, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
What if I already had COVID?
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again.
People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first round of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
If you think you already had COVID-19, but you did not get tested, you will need to quarantine for 14 days since your last exposure to someone positive for COVID-19, unless your local public health agency provides different guidance.
If you were wearing a face mask when you were exposed to COVID-19, you still need to quarantine.
Why trust public health?
Public health experts are trained and experienced in responding to infectious disease outbreaks and life-threatening emergencies.
They work closely with scientists and researchers to translate the latest findings into action with the express goal of keeping people as safe and healthy as possible.
Public health officials are guided by science, not politics.
Public health officials and scientists are continuing to learn about how COVID-19 spreads, how it affects different people, and how best to control it.
As scientists discover new information about COVID-19, public health officials are committed to providing accurate and timely guidance.