FOR HISTORICAL PURPOSES ONLY
Information on this page is displayed for historical purposes only and is no longer being updated. As such, it may be out of date with recent developments or scientific research. CDC.gov and your state’s health department may offer additional guidance.
Social Distancing, Self-Isolation and Self-Quarantine
What is social distancing and how will it help slow the COVID-19 virus?
Social distancing is a public health tactic used to slow down the spread of a contagious disease like coronavirus. When a person coughs or sneezes, a spray of small liquid droplets goes into the air. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets and any virus the droplets may contain. Social distancing is being careful about what you are exposed to and who you are around.
Do I need to stay home even if I feel healthy?
Yes. You can have the virus without having any symptoms. Even if you feel healthy, it’s important to stay home as much as possible to protect others and to help stop the virus from spreading.
Helping older adults
Older adults, especially those with heart or lung conditions or a weakened immune system, need to stay home and away from people to prevent getting sick.
It’s is also important to keep older adults connected with family and friends. Call, Facetime or stream a movie to watch together. Help them with their grocery shopping.
Social Distancing Tips
- Stay at least six feet away from others, especially those show symptoms of illness.
- Keep your normal daily routines and schedules.
- Exercise every day if possible.
- Avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people.
- Connect with family and friends by phone, face chat or other online communication device.
- Replace hugs and handshakes with elbow or foot bumping, a head nod, a slight bow, or other no-touch greeting.
- Being away from others can be stressful. Manage stress with deep breathing, yoga, meditation, laughter or other activities.
- Stream movies to watch.
- Work from home and attend meetings by phone or video conferencing.
- Cancel or postpone large group meetings and optional travel.
- Take a walk or go on a hike, but keep at least six feet of distance from others.
- Sit outside to get fresh air and sunshine.
- If you order food from a restaurant, use drive-through, pickup or delivery options. Wash your hands when you get home. Transfer food to your own plates and recycle the containers. Wash your hands before you eat.
- Avoid traveling that is not absolutely necessary.
- Do not visit nursing homes, retirement or senior centers, or long-term care facilities.
- Avoid medical and dental appointments that are not absolutely necessary.
- Use delivery or pick-up options at the grocery store or go to the store at off-peak times when it is not busy.
What is self-quarantine?
If you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, the CDC recommends that you self-quarantine for 14 days. It takes two weeks for coronavirus symptoms to appear. To self-quarantine, you need to stay home and away from others as much as possible. Continue to practice respiratory hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes and personal hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water. Don’t share towels, dishes, drinks, etc. Stay at least six feet away from other people.
What is isolation?
If you have been tested and are confirmed to have COVID-19, you need to be isolated from others until you are no longer contagious with coronavirus. Isolation can happen at home or at a health care facility if your doctor feels that is necessary.
During home isolation:
- Stay away from others and pets as much as possible.
- Use a separate bathroom and sleep away from others in a separate room.
- Continue to wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Don’t share towels, dishes, drinks, etc.
- Do not have visitors.
- Stay at least six feet away from other people in your house.
- Monitor your symptoms and let your doctor know if you are not feeling better, or if you have another health condition that is affected.
The information on our website is medically reviewed and accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, information may have since changed. CDC.gov and your state’s health department may offer additional guidance.