COVID-19 > COVID-19_Isolation_and_Quarantine

COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine


“Quarantine” means that if you are exposed but healthy, you must stay home (or outdoors well away from others).  “Isolate” means that if you are sick with COVID-19, you must also try to stay away from uninfected household members as well.


On December 27, 2021, the CDC announced new recommendations for isolation and quarantine.  Click here to see the announcement and recommendations:


  • Anyone, regardless of vaccination status, who tests POSITIVE for COVID-19 must isolate for 5 days at least. 
    • You may venture out after 5 days, fully masked, If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving.
    • It's ok to go out after 5 days, fully masked, if you still have mild congestion.  But if you are still feverish and achy, feeling "under the weather", or feeling droopy and tired, you should continue to isolate until you are feeling better.
  • If you are exposed to a known case of COVID-19, recommendations for quarantine do depend on your vaccination status.
    • If you are exposed but fully vaccinated within the last 6 months, or you have gotten a booster:
      • IF you are completely healthy (no symptoms), then you are not required to quarantine.  You may go about your business, but remain masked with all indoor contacts.  You should get a test 5 days after your exposure.
      • IF you have any symptoms at all (cough, congestion, sore throat, fever etc.) you must quarantine, and get tested.
    • If you are not fully vaccinated, or if you got two shots more than 6 months ago, you must quarantine for 5 days after your last exposure, and get tested at the end of the 5 days.  Then you may go about your business, but remain masked, for another 5 days.

The isolation and quarantine period begins "counting" on the first day of symptoms, or the date that the sample for the positive test was obtained, whichever is earlier.

For families, remember that if you live in a house where someone has COVID-19, you are "exposed" EVERY DAY until the end of their isolation.  So your quarantine period of 5 days doesn't begin until the LAST day of the sick household member's isolation.

Repeat testing after infection is still generally not recommended.  The CDC specifically recommends against repeat testing as a condition of returning to work or school, unless recommended by a physician.  PCR tests can often remain positive long after you are no longer contagious; so return to work or school would be delayed unnecessarily.

     --  Dr. Epstein