This post originally appeared in slightly different form in Coalition Connections #22 on December 21, 2020.
|A lot of people have questions about quarantining, and we hope this page helps you answer yours! The MA Department of Public Health (DPH) also has a helpful and informative webpage on the topic – many of the links below connect to sections on that page.
What does “quarantine” mean?
Quarantining means staying home and away from others for up to 14 days. (The number of days depends on the specific situation.)
10 Tips for At-Home Quarantine or Self-Monitoring from MA DPH.
I’ve also heard the term “isolate.” What’s the difference?
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 isolate by staying away from others, including people in their own home. This CDC info sheet explains the difference between quarantine and isolation.
How do I know if I should quarantine? Why do people do it?
People quarantine or isolate for a variety of reasons:
Travel – They entered Massachusetts after traveling from a high-risk area (this currently includes all U.S. states except Hawaii). What to do.
Illness – They have symptoms and are waiting for COVID test results. What to do.
Positive Test – They tested positive for COVID and need to isolate. What to do.
Close Contact – They were informed that someone they were in close contact with tested positive for COVID-19. What to do.
How do people find out about a close contact? Sometimes people hear directly from the person who tested positive. Others may be contacted by a local health official or the Commonwealth’s Community Tracing Collaborative. If you get a call from your local board of health or the Tracing Collaborative, answer it! We have heard reports of scammers impersonating contact tracers. Contact tracing is a free service, so if the person you talk with asks for money, hang up!
What about quarantining prior to travel or being at a different household? Public health agencies are asking everyone to minimize travel and spend time with members of their own households. For those who do need to travel or need to spend time at a different household, here is the latest advice from Emergency Physician and Public Health Professor Dr. Leana Wen and the CDC.
What can I do to get ready for the possibility of needing to quarantine?Tips from the MA Department of Public Health on how to prepare. It can also be helpful to talk with household members ahead of time about preparation and see if you can identify a couple of quarantine helpers from outside your household who could drop off groceries or medicine if you need to quarantine. You can offer to do the same for them!
For more info, see this MA DPH webpage: Tips to make COVID-19 isolation and quarantine easier.