The coronavirus (COVID-19) is quickly changing the way we live. The terms “self-quarantine”, “social distancing,” and “isolation” are often mentioned by the media. What do they mean, and how do we apply them to our families and communities?
What is self-quarantine? A person who has been exposed to COVID-19 may decide to self-quarantine or voluntarily refrain from going out of his/her home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend self-quarantine for 14 days.
What is social distancing? Social distancing means avoiding places where large numbers of people gather. For example: shopping centers, conferences, sporting events, and classes. According to the CDC, social distancing includes avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining a distance of approximately (6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. The cancellations of events and closings are social measures designed to minimize possible exposure to someone carrying COVID-19.
What is isolation? Isolation means a person who has contracted a communicable disease is completely separated from others. According to the CDC, for public health purposes, isolation may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health orders. The person is kept away from everyone with the exception of health care providers, who will care for the person wearing protective gear.
The coronavirus is spread through respiratory vapor, such as when someone sneezes or coughs in the air around another person. According to the CDC, handwashing can prevent about 20% of respiratory infections.