Isolation is the separation of sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
Quarantine is the separation of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. This often involves some level of restriction on the movement of those people.
People might be asked to restrict their movements if public health has reason to believe they might have been exposed to COVID-19 or if they are considered to be at increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19. This is to help prevent the spread of disease and protect people’s health.
If you have traveled to an area where COVID-19 is spreading in the community or if you have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19, you should take your temperature twice daily and remain alert for signs of illness, including fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pains, headache, sore throat, and a new loss or taste or smell. It is important to not eat, drink, or exercise for at least 30 minutes before taking your temperature.
It is very important that people with even mild signs of illness (fever, cough, chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat) stay home to prevent spreading illness to others!
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive. Emergency warning signs include (but are not limited to): trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse a person, or bluish lips or face.
If you become sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and are in need of medical care, call your healthcare provider to let them know you need care. Please call ahead to the healthcare provider. The healthcare provider can evaluate your illness and determine if you need to be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19.
If a person does not comply with voluntary quarantine, the VDH may issue a quarantine order that legally requires the person to comply with quarantine restrictions. Law enforcement can become involved, if needed, to ensure compliance.
Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue 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
- Other symptoms have improved.
*A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, that may warrant extending the duration of isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Consider consultation with infection control experts.
Persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 who never develop COVID-19 symptoms may discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.
For more information, see Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings
Contacts will need to quarantine for at least 14 days, since the last contact with the person with COVID-19, providing that they remain healthy during this time period. A negative test for COVID-19 during this time period does not mean that the contact can end quarantine early.
No, neighbors are not notified. VDH keeps protected health information private in order to protect each person’s confidentiality.
Page last reviewed: October 14, 2020