Quarantine vs. Isolation

Most commonly you will hear and see the terms self-quarantine and self-isolation. The definitions here have been expanded in general use to include the modifier of “self,” with the understanding that quarantine or isolation will not be enforced by a public entity. Rather, these are self-imposed by the individual and family when recommended by healthcare providers for the benefit of public health.

As defined by the CDC:

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick, or when a person is infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department. 

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19, as well as those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate restroom (if available). The university has partnered with Pierce County to access off-campus isolation spaces that include 24/7 medical staffing and meals at no cost to students.