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What Is the Difference Between Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation?

Learn About the Various Methods of Preventing COVID-19

As we all navigate these difficult times together and work to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many new terms that are being thrown our way. It is only natural that we feel some confusion about what exactly each of them means. Our team at Advance ER is here to walk you through the differences between social distancing, quarantining, and isolation, and help you determine which prevention method is right for your circumstances.

What Is Social Distancing?

This term is particularly popular – so much so, it may have lost its meaning over time. Social distancing is the most basic preventative measure that one can take to fight the spread of the disease. According to CDC guidelines, everyone who is in an area experiencing a spread should be practicing social distancing. As of the fall of 2020, this means that it is recommended for essentially everyone in the U.S. to practice social distancing. The goal of social distancing is to stay six feet away from individuals who don’t live with you, avoid group gatherings, and wearing masks. Social distancing also refers to the diligence with which you disinfect the areas around you. Some practical ways to implement social distancing include:

  • Avoiding public transportation and non-essential trips
  • Working from home
  • Avoiding areas like bars, restaurants, or movie theaters where people gather
  • Wear a mask when ever possible, especially around those who do not live in your home
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Use a disinfectant wipe to cleanse objects that you touch
  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially if you have been out in public

What Is Quarantining?

Even when taking preventative social distancing measures, some individuals are still being exposed to COVID-19. For these people, the CDC recommends quarantining for at least 14 days because that is the incubation period for the virus. Incubation refers to the amount of time it takes to become sick and possibly experience symptoms after exposure. If you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed, you have been exposed and it is recommended that you quarantine for 14 days. If you have engaged in the following behaviors with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you have been exposed:

  • Being within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • Providing care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • Having direct physical contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • Sharing eating or drinking utensils with someone who has COVID-19
  • Being sneezed on, coughed on, or having respiratory droplets fall near you from someone who has COVID-19

While you are quarantining, it is recommended that you watch for a high fever, shortness of breath, cough, and other symptoms of COVID-19. It is also recommended that you stay away from others during this period to avoid furthering the spread.

What Is Isolation?

If you do contract COVID-19, an isolation period will be necessary in order to stop the spread. The goal of isolation is to stay away from other individuals entirely. The exact time in which isolation is needed will depend on your specific case. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, the medical team at Advance ER can help you determine the next best steps. We recommend that you take this time of isolation to care for your body in order to achieve your most optimal recovery. Here are some steps you can take to care for yourself during isolation if you have COVID-19:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids, which will help replace fluids lost from a fever. Fluids will also help with symptoms like a sore throat.
  • Take acetaminophen as necessary and as recommended to reduce fever and muscle aches
  • Use lukewarm water to help with fever
  • Use peteroleum jelly on any sore skin to help prevent further soreness

All of the precautionary steps taken during social distancing should also be taken during isolation, but at this point, it is recommended to avoid contact with other individuals entirely. We understand that being diagnosed with COVID-19 can be both challenging and uncertain, and our team is here to provide the support you need.

If you are in the Dallas, Texas area and need COVID-19 testing, visit Advance ER or call us at (214) 494-8222 to learn more about our recommendations for COVID-19 protocol.