Quarantine & Isolation

UPDATED 12.30.21

Quarantine is exclusively for individuals deemed close direct contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals. It involves staying at home for 5 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 5 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 5 days quarantine period as that Friday of last contact.

How long should I quarantine?

  • Boosted or fully vaccinated individuals with Pfizer/Moderna within last 6 months or Johnson & Johnson within last 2 months who are close contacts of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection do NOT have to stay home and should wear a mask around others for 10 days. If possible, individuals should get tested on day 5.
  • People who are unvaccinated OR have completed the primary series of Pfizer/Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson over 2 months ago and are not boosted who are close contacts of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection should stay home for 5 days. 
  • After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days. 
  • If unable to quarantine, individuals must wear a mask for 10 days. 
  • If possible, individuals should get tested on day 5.

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.

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.

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.

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:

  • Those with lab confirmed COVID-19 infections, regardless of vaccination status should stay home for 5 days. 
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days and you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications, you can leave your house. 
  • Individuals should continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.