[Students] What is Isolation and Quarantine?

Amy A. Myers, M.D. amy.myers@fandm.edu

Tue, Sep 8, 1:37 PM

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding what isolation and quarantine mean in the current covid environment. I am hoping to clarify that here.

Isolation is based on a person’s risk of infecting others.
Isolation applies to individuals who either test positive, or are symptomatic and under suspicion of having covid while awaiting test results.
A person with covid can potentially spread the virus to others starting 2 days prior to the start of symptoms and for about 10 days after symptoms. If a person with symptoms is fever free for at least 24 hours without medication to reduce fever, and symptoms are improving, they are released from isolation 10 days after the start of symptoms.
If a person tests positive but has no symptoms, they would remain in isolation for 10 days following the date of the test.

Quarantine is based on a person’s risk of becoming infected after being exposed to someone who either tests positive or is under investigation for having covid.
A person can become infected up to 14 days following exposure to someone who is positive. That is why quarantine lasts for 14 days after the last day of exposure to the individual who is positive.
A person is determined to be a close contact and therefore subject to quarantine if they have been within 6 ft of an infected or under suspicion individual for at least 10-15 min.
That is why it is so important to maintain that 6 ft distance at all times. If you maintain at least 6 feet between you and others or only decrease that distance momentarily, you would not fall into the quarantine category.

Depending on your living situation and number of individuals sharing bathrooms determines where you can potentially isolate or quarantine.

Contact Tracing is a process designed to minimize spread of the virus. When a person tests positive or is under suspicion for Covid, that individual is asked about any people with whom they have been in close contact (within 6 ft for 10-15min) starting 2 days prior to the start of symptoms, or test date until they start their isolation. The purpose of contact tracing is to decrease the spread of the virus during the asymptomatic period. Again, if you maintain that 6 ft distance around others, you would not fall into that close contact category. However, if you are a close contact, it is important to report that and quarantine to decrease or eliminate the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus to someone else prior to the start of any symptoms.

If you have any questions regarding isolation, quarantine, contact tracing etc. feel free to contact me or the Student Wellness Center.


Amy A. Myers, MD
Managing Physician
LG Health at Franklin and Marshall College Student Wellness Center
Team Physician Franklin and Marshall College
931 Harrisburg Ave.
Lancaster, PA 17603
PH: 717-544-9051
F : 717-735-9234

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