image COVID-19: What is the Difference Between Quarantine, Isolation and Social Distancing in a Pandemic

COVID-19: What is the Difference Between Quarantine, Isolation and Social Distancing in a Pandemic

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 was a pandemic after the disease swept into at least 114 countries. Since then, we have received instructions on proper handwashing, and we’ve heard words like social distancing, isolation, quarantine, and “safer at home.” But what do all these words mean? Learn more about the differences of each and how you can stay safe during a pandemic or outbreak. 


What is COVID-19?

Let’s first break down what COVID-19 is. It is a contagious respiratory disease that was first detected in China in December 2019. The 2019 new coronavirus has been named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes is called COVID-19, according to the University of Chicago Medicine. ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.

There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that cause mild upper-respiratory illnesses, including the common cold. 


What is Social Distancing?

Social distancing involves avoiding large gatherings. Examples include avoiding mass gatherings, working from home, closing schools, using video chat instead of meeting in person, and canceling conferences or large meetings.


What is a Quarantine?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, quarantines are for people or groups who don’t have symptoms but were exposed to a contagious disease. A quarantine keeps them away from others, so they don’t unknowingly infect anyone. The purpose is to see if they become sick. 

Quarantines may be used during outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics. 


What is Isolation?

According to WebMD, isolation is for individuals who are sick from a contagious disease. They are kept separate from others, usually within a healthcare facility or at home. Caretakers take precautions such as wearing protective clothing.

The Constitution grants authority to the federal government to quarantine U.S. residents. 


What’s the Difference Between Isolation and Quarantine?

Isolation is for those who are already sick. It keeps infected people away from healthy people to prevent the sickness from spreading. Quarantine is for those who aren’t sure if they’re sick, but had contact with someone who was.


How to Stay Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap.
  • Stay at home.
  • Use telemedicine to speak with your healthcare professional.
  • If you have to leave your house, take precautions. Keep your distance, wear disposable gloves, and keep your trips short.
  • Stay calm.
  • Continue taking your prescription medications.
  • If you need to step outside for fresh air and sunshine, please do so. 
  • Keep your home clean.