Mug of tea, phone, and thermometer

What are the differences between social distancing, quarantine, and isolation?

Isolate & Quarantine Guide

Protect the KU community:
Review our guide on proper isolation and quarantine practices.
Review the Guide

Who is it for?

Social Distancing

Anyone who hasn’t been exposed to the disease.

Quarantine

People or groups who don’t currently have symptoms but were exposed to the disease.

Isolation

People who are already sick with the disease.

What is it?

Social Distancing

A day-to-day precautionary measure used by non-exposed people to help prevent the spread of a disease.

Quarantine

A prevention strategy used to monitor and separate well people who may have been exposed to a disease for a certain amount of time to see if they become ill. Helps prevent the spread of disease. Usually takes place in the home.

Isolation

A prevention strategy used to separate people who are sick with an infectious disease from healthy people. Helps limit the spread of disease. Can take place in the home or hospital. Healthcare providers often send patients to home- isolation when they no longer require medical attention.

When do I use it?

Social Distancing

All the time until further direction by KDHE or the local health department.

Quarantine

If you have recently traveled to a country or US state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19, or been on a cruise or river cruise, or if you have come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Consult the KDHE website or contact your local health department if you are unsure if you should self- quarantine.

Isolation

If you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, have tested positive for COVID- 19, or have symptoms of the disease without a test. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you are experiencing symptoms severe enough to seek healthcare. If symptoms are mild, stay at home and isolate away from others.

How long is it for?

Social Distancing

Indefinite until otherwise directed.

Quarantine

You must quarantine for 14 days if you (a) were within six feet for 10 minutes or longer of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive case, or (b) had travel to, or association with, any current KDHE-mandated quarantine location. The last possible date of exposure is counted a day zero.

Once your quarantine period has ended, if you do not have symptoms, you may return to your normal routine.

Isolation

You must isolate for 10 days from the date of test collection (day zero) OR 72 hours after fever has resolved without the use of fever reducing medications — whichever is longer — plus significant improvement in symptoms.

What does this mean for my daily life?

Social Distancing

Avoid large gatherings and groups of over 50 people. Try your best to stay 6-feet away from people. Call or video-chat with loved ones, particularly those that are elderly or have underlying health conditions that places them at high-risk.

If possible, work from home.

Practice good hygiene and avoid shaking hands or touching your face.

If you are feeling sick, stay home and if needed, call a healthcare provider.

Quarantine

Stay at home and avoid close contact with others. Do not attend school, work or any other setting where you cannot maintain about a 6-foot distance from other people. Call or video-chat loved ones.

For food, medication, and other necessities. - have friends, family, or delivery services deliver supplies.

Standard hygiene and precautionary measures like not sharing household items, washing your hands, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces often.

If you are in home quarantine, monitor your symptoms and if you become ill and need medical attention call your healthcare provider.

Isolation

Do not leave your home unless it is in an emergency. If you are in a home with others, stay in a room by yourself. Call or video-chat loved ones.

For food, medication, and other necessities. - have friends, family, or delivery services deliver supplies. and try to stock up for the duration of the isolation.

Standard hygiene and precautionary measures like not sharing household items, washing your hands, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces often.

If you are in home isolation, monitor your symptoms and if you need medical attention, contact with your healthcare provider.

(page updated 8/24/20)