Isolation & Quarantine

Isolation or Quarantine: What's the difference?

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.


Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

Who needs to quarantine?

  • People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months.
  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

What counts as close contact?

  • Anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
  • Steps to take

    When to start and end quarantine
    CDC recommends individuals should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. Even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should stay home (quarantine) since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. See CDC scenarios to determine when you can end quarantine and be around others.

    Options to reduce quarantine
    CDC and other scientists have explored changing the current recommendation to quarantine for 14 days after last exposure. Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing economic hardship if they cannot work during this time. In addition, a shorter quarantine period can lessen stress on the public health system, especially when new infections are rapidly rising.

    People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even they don’t have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.

    The CDC suggested local public health authorities can make the final decision about how long quarantine should last in the communities they serve, based on local conditions and needs. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has adapted this new guidance statewide effective December 2, 2020. Based on this new guidance and local availability of viral testing, for people without symptoms quarantine can end:

    • After day 10 without testing
    • After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (PCR test taken on Day 5 or Rapid test taken on Day 7)

    After stopping quarantine, people should:

    • Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash their hands, avoid crowds and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    • Continue to watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
    • If they have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or healthcare provider.

    CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus. CDC will continue to evaluate new information and update recommendations as needed. See Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing for guidance on options to reduce quarantine.

    If you have questions, please call and speak to a public health professional at 918-582-9355.


    Isolation is used to separate people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from people who are not infected.

    People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).

    Who needs to isolate:

    • People who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are able to recover at home
    • People who have no symptoms (are asymptomatic) but have tested positive for infection with SARS-CoV-2

    Isolation Steps to take
    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.

    When you can be around others
    When you can be around others (end home isolation) after you had or likely hand COVID-19 depends on different factors for different situations. Find CDC’s recommendations for your situation.