Guidance for Quarantine and Isolation

What is quarantine?

Quarantine is separating an individual who has been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19, from other people who are not sick and who have not been exposed. Someone who is exposed to COVID-19 has a higher chance of becoming ill with the disease. When someone quarantines, this can prevent the disease from spreading if the individual becomes ill. 

What is isolation?

Isolation is for sick people and people who test positive for COVID-19. It means people should be in isolation (stay away from others) until they meet specific criteria. 

This guidance is for general public settings, and does not apply to health care, congregate care, schools, child cares and other high-risk environments. 

Quarantine

Who needs to quarantine?

  • Unvaccinated individuals, or fully vaccinated individuals who are eligible for the booster but haven’t received it yet, who were recently exposed to COVID-19, should follow quarantine procedures. Exposed individuals may become ill or infectious with COVID-19 between two and 14 days after their last exposure to the virus. It is possible to be infectious with COVID-19 without feeling ill. 
  • People who were exposed to COVID-19 less than 14 days after receiving their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should follow quarantine procedures. 
  • People who become sick or develop symptoms following an exposure to COVID-19 should follow isolation procedures and seek testing.

Who does not need to quarantine?

  1. Individuals who are fully vaccinated and not yet due for a booster. This includes people who have received:
    • two shots of a Moderna or a Pfizer vaccine, with the last shot occurring at least two weeks ago but no more than 6 months ago; OR
    • or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two weeks ago but less than two months ago.
  2. Individuals who have received a booster dose. 

Individuals who have been exposed are encouraged to wear a mask for 10 days after their exposure and get a test on day five. 

If, at any point during the 14 days since exposure, you begin exhibiting symptoms, you should follow isolation procedures.   

How long do I quarantine?

  1. Individuals are recommended to quarantine for five days after their last exposure, and wear a mask in public for the following five days. 
  1. Get tested for COVID-19 five days after your exposure or as soon as you experience symptoms, preferably with a PCR test.  Learn more about testing here. 

During the time period specified in the option above, avoid public places. 

  • Do not travel by airplane, ship, long-distance bus, or train.  
  • Any other travel should be coordinated with  EPCPH.   
  • Do not use public transportation, such as light rail, bus, or taxi.  
  • Remain in the location that has been designated for your quarantine.   
  • Do not go to work. Working from a home-based office is permitted.  
  • Do not go to school, grocery stores or other public places.  
  • If you need assistance with food or other necessities during your isolation period,  please  call  EPCPH  at  719-578-3220.  
  • If you do not have respiratory symptoms, limited outdoor activities are acceptable  (e.g.,  taking  a walk) as long as you maintain a minimum six-foot distance from any other individual.  
  • Monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person.  
  • Seek testing for COVID-19  if you develop fever (temperature greater than 38.0 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, runny nose, nausea/vomiting). You can find a list of testing resources at  www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid-19-testing-information.   
  • Prior to seeking ANY medical attention in an office, clinic, or hospital, call and inform that  health  care  facility that you  have been advised to quarantine  due to a  potential exposure to COVID-19. You should also contact  EPCPH, which will inform you of precautions you  should  take to protect against infecting others at the time you are seeking medical attention. If your condition requires calling 911, you  should  inform the 911 operator that you  have been advised to quarantine due to  a   potential  exposure to COVID-19.  

Isolation

Who needs to isolate?

  • People who are experiencing symptoms of  COVID-19. 
  • People who test positive for COVID-19. 

How do I isolate?

Stay at home, except to get medical care, and separate from others. Practice actions that protect others.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60  percent  alcohol. When using hand sanitizer, cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Soap and water are preferred if hands are visibly dirty.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away. If a tissue is not available, use your inner elbow or sleeve.  
  • Immediately clean your hands (see above).  
  • Avoid sharing personal household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home.  After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • Frequently clean “high-touch” surfaces like counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.   
  • Clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or  bodily  fluids on them.  
  • Use a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Follow the label directions for correct and safe use of the cleaning product.  

How long do I isolate?

How long you should isolate depends on whether or not you feel ill.

If you have symptoms, isolate yourself from others until: 

  • You have no fever and resolving symptoms for 24 hours without the use of medicine, AND  
  • At least five days have passed since your first symptoms  

If you don’t have symptoms, isolate yourself from others until: 

  • Five days have passed since your test, and you have no symptoms. If symptoms begin, isolate following the above criteria. 

You should continue to wear a mask when around others for five days after your isolation period ends. 

Seek prompt medical attention if your symptoms worsen (e.g., difficulty breathing). Prior to seeking any medical attention in an office, clinic, or hospital, you should call and inform that health care facility that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19.  

If you call 911 for emergency assistance, tell your dispatcher that you have or may have COVID-19.