Almost overnight, social distancing, quarantining, and self-isolating have become buzzwords, verbs, and hashtags with millions of followers. But with their new celebrity-like status comes some confusion. The words aren’t interchangeable, and each concept should be applied differently depending on your unique situation and risk factors.
Here’s some clarity on each recommendation:
Isolation serves the same purpose as a quarantine, but it’s reserved for people who are already sick and designed to keep infected people away from those who aren’t infected. Isolation is appropriate for those who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who have symptoms but haven’t yet been tested. Self-isolation means staying indoors and eliminating all contact with others, using a separate bedroom or bathroom if possible, and not leaving your home except to get medical care (in which case, you should call ahead first). The decision between at-home isolation and hospital care is made on a case-by-case by medical professionals. For those who are admitted to a hospital, special personal protective equipment will be used by medical personnel.
No matter which stage you’re in, remember these recommendations are in place to help you and those around you. Humans are social beings, and while following these guidelines may be difficult, it’s also necessary. It’s important for everyone to do their part, take precautions, follow the advice of public health experts, and flatten the curve.