COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine

Contact tracing includes public health tools known as isolation and quarantine, which differ from one another. Isolation is used for individuals who have been infected with COVID-19, even if they don’t have symptoms. Quarantine is used for individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact.

Isolation is separating people who have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 from those who are not infected or showing symptoms in order to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. You isolate when you show symptoms of COVID-19 or are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Quarantine is used by someone who has been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 through close contact, but has not tested positive for COVID-19 and does not have symptoms. Quarantine is important because even before a person has tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms, they could spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people without knowing. Quarantine is used to prevent transmission of the virus by ensuring that people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 stay apart from others.

While contact tracing can be effective at certain times and/or in certain settings, when levels of community transmission are significant, its effectiveness as a mitigation tool decreases.

The Greene County Department of Public Health (GCPH) follows CDC’s contact tracing guidance during times of high burden, which calls for prioritizing case investigations to focus on those who tested positive most recently. Contact elicitation and notification focus on household contacts and sensitive settings. Taken together, this means you may not get a call from a county or state contact tracer. Instead, take the actions described below, depending on your particular circumstance.

 

(1) If you are experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID-19, follow these steps and get tested for COVID-19.

 

(2) If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result and are experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID-19, follow these steps:

  • If you performed a self-test at home, report your positive result to GCPH. Results from tests performed at a pharmacy or laboratory are automatically reported to GCPH, though it may take several days and be received after you are notified.
  • Isolate
    • Follow the Greene County Public Health Guidelines and see How to Isolate. Day 1 of isolation begins the day after you became symptomatic.
    • You may leave your isolation when
      • At least full 10 days past the date your symptoms started have passed AND
      • Your symptoms have resolved or are improving AND
      • You have not had a fever for at least 24 hours, without using fever-reducing medications.

 

(3) If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, but you are not experiencing any symptoms (this may occur if you were required to be tested for some reason, you sought testing because you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 or in anticipation of attending an event or venue):

  • If you performed a self-test at home, report your positive result to GCPH. Results from tests performed at a pharmacy or laboratory are automatically reported to GCPH, though it may take several days and be received after you are notified.
  • Isolate
    • Follow the Greene County Public Health Guidelines and see How to Isolate. Day 1 of isolation begins the day after your specimen was collected, since you do not have symptoms.
    • You may leave your isolation after 10 full days have passed since your test specimen was collected.
    •  

 

(4) If you had close contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19.

  • Most people must quarantine, even if the person that tested positive did not have symptoms or you or they had a mask on.
  • Exemptions to quarantine include:
    • Individuals who had close contact, remain asymptomatic and meet CDC criteria for being fully vaccinated AND
    • Individuals who had close contact, remain asymptomatic and who, within the previous 90 days, were diagnosed with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 and have since recovered.
  • Follow the Greene County Public Health Guidelines and see How to Quarantine and when to get tested. Day 1 of quarantine begins the day after your last day of exposure to the COVID-19 positive person.
  • Quarantine for 10 full days following the last day of exposure to the COVID-19 positive case, provided you have remained asymptomatic during the quarantine period

OR

  • Quarantine for at least seven (7) full days following the last day of exposure to the COVID-19 positive case, if you receive a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test collected no sooner than 5 days following the last day of exposure and you have remained asymptomatic during the quarantine period. 
  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 while in quarantine, get tested and immediately begin the process for isolation (see above).