Quarantine & Isolation

Quarantine is exclusively for individuals deemed close direct contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals. It involves staying at home for 10 days (from last contact) and if possible, staying away from people living in the same residence.

Isolation is for COVID-19 positive individuals. It involves total isolation from non-infected individuals, especially family members living in the same house.

Learn more about quarantine and isolation below


Quarantine

What is quarantine?

Quarantine is exclusively for individuals deemed close direct contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals. It involves staying at home and if possible, staying away from people living in the same residence.

Note that we are using "quarantine" as an official public health term, rather than using it to describe the general idea of staying home. The Reno County Health Official is the authority on deciding who is officially quarantined.

Who is a close contact?

Generally speaking:

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 10 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (ex: hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared food or drink with the person
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

In reality, situations are not clear cut, so the Reno County Health Department's case investigators will evaluate your specific scenario. For example, if you were in contact with a COVID-19 positive person in very tight quarters for less than 10 minutes (a car ride), or more than 6 feet away for an extended time (an enclosed room for many hours, like a classroom, meeting room, or shared office), you will likely qualify as a close contact.

How will I receive word that I am quarantined?

Many people will first learn that they are suspected "close contact" from their school administrators, employers, or the person who has tested positive. Upon learning this information, you should assume you will be placed in quarantine for 10 days (starting the last day of contact) and await a call from RCHD, which could take 24-48 hours depending on the volume of contacts we have to call related to a single case. During that time, RCHD will be working with the school/employer/positive individual to determine who is a "close contact." Please be patient as we may have many people to contact.

When RCHD calls you, we will discuss quarantine guidelines, answer questions, and give you a tentative quarantine release date. 

Most people's last close contact with the infected individual happens days before they are informed of being a close possible close contact. for example, if you are in class on a Friday with a person who receives a positive test result the following Monday, we will calculate the start of 10 days quarantine period as that Friday of last contact.

What should I do when I'm quarantined?

  • Stay home, monitor your health, and stay away from others in your household as much as possible
  • Stay home for 10 days after your last contact with someone with COVID-19
  • Monitor for symptoms such as fever (100.4°F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms
  • Stay away from others in your household as much as possible, especially those who are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19

Quarantine WITH testing

  • After exposure, monitored daily (self-monitoring or active monitoring by Public Health) for 7 days. Are only eligible for shortened quarantine if you have no symptoms.
  • On or after day 6, may get a PCR test (antigen and antibody tests are NOT allowed for this purpose) – if negative can be removed from quarantine after day seven (7).
  • Must remain asymptomatic (no symptoms)

Quarantine WITHOUT testing

  • After exposure, monitored daily (self-monitoring or active monitoring) daily for 10 days. Are only eligible for shortened quarantine if you have no symptoms.
  • After day 10 can be released from quarantine without a test.
  • Must remain asymptomatic (no symptoms)
  • All exposed people should self-monitor for fourteen (14) days from exposure and contact healthcare provider if symptoms develop. Disease can still develop through day 14.
  • The 14-day quarantine period after an exposure is still the best recommendation.
  • CDC is not changing the incubation period for COVID-19.
  • Guidance for a shortened quarantine period is aimed at increasing compliance

Shortened quarantine does NOT apply to residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities and does NOT apply to offender populations in prisons. These types of settings are high risk for outbreaks and house some of our most vulnerable populations.

If I am in quarantine, are the other people in my household also quarantined?

No, only the person who has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 is officially in quarantine. Household members should continue to go to school, work, and essential activities. However, we do urge that other household members be extra cautious with social distancing, avoid non-essential gatherings, wear a mask, and stay away from people who are especially vulnerable.

If I have been in close contact with someone waiting on COVID-19 test results, am I in quarantine? Should I self-isolate?

The RCHD only places close contacts of a confirmed positive COVID-19 individual in official quarantine. Household members of close contacts are not automatically required to quarantine. However, we recommend you be extra cautious with social distancing, avoid gatherings, wear a mask, and watch for symptoms if you are in this situation.

Why don't I have to quarantine if someone in my household or someone close to me has to quarantine?

To keep our community open and functioning, it is important that as many people as possible continue to go to work and school while minimizing risk to exposure. Our job at RCHD is not to eliminate the virus, but to maintain a balance that keep the spread in check. A close contact is in quarantine because they have been exposed, not because they have the virus. The 14 day incubation period is the time that an exposed individual could come down with the virus, but until they do develop symptoms, we will presume they are not spreading the virus to their household members.

If you are in close contact with someone who is in quarantine but has not yet received a positive COVID-19 test, please follow general precautions to slow the spread of the virus: keep a 6 foot distance from people you don't live with, wear a face covering in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and when you can't keep 6 feet apart, avoid gatherings, wash your hands often, and stay home if you are sick.

What happens if I live with someone who is quarantined and they test positive for COVID-19?

Upon a confirmed positive test of a household member, the RCHD will place the confirmed positive individual in isolation, and you will be placed in quarantine. The official word on release dates will come via a call or message from RCHD.

What if I am in quarantine due to caring for a COVID-19 positive individual in my household?

For example, if you are caring for a child with COVID-19, you are in quarantine they whole duration of the child's isolation PLUS 10 additional days. Your quarantine release date will be calculated starting on the last date of that child's isolation.

How long am I considered immune if I had COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

There is currently no time limit on how long fully vaccinated persons are considered immune. Persons who do not meet both of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID19.

Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 as long as they remain without symptoms. It is recommended by the CDC that fully vaccinated individuals get tested via PCR or antigen test 3 to 5 days after exposure to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 even if they do not have symptoms with an additional recommendation by KDHE to re-test 7-10 days after exposure.

However, they do not have to isolate at home while waiting for results if they do not have symptoms. Fully vaccinated individuals that do not have symptoms do not need to quarantine but should mask while in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure.

Isolation

Isolation is for COVID-19 positive individuals. It involves total isolation from non-infected individuals, especially family members living in the same house.

What should I do when I'm in isolation?

  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets
  • Don't share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils
  • Wear a mask when around other people, if you are able to


Learn more about what to do if you are sick with COVID-19.

How long should I isolate?

Each case is different, so consult a doctor on how long you should isolate. In general, you can be around others after:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving **Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have no symptoms, you can be with others after 10 days have passed since the date you had your positive test.