What to know about isolation, quarantine
Posted: September 10, 2020
REVISED: January 21, 2020
Our Gannon Health and Counseling Center receives several questions each week regarding isolation and quarantine for COVID-19. These questions often involve a misunderstanding of what constitutes a “close contact,” said Brenda Boetger, CRNP, at the Health and Counseling Center. To dispel the confusion, Boetger provided the following explanations as well as some guidance for Gannon students regarding testing.
Close contact with a known positive is defined as: YOU PERSONALLY being 6 feet or closer to the positive person during their infectious period for 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period, regardless of whether masks are worn. The “infectious period” begins 48-hours prior to symptom onset, or 48-hours prior to test collection for asymptomatic cases. If an acquaintance of yours has been put on quarantine for meeting this criterion, this does not directly affect you in any way. You are NOT considered a close contact just because your acquaintance has been put in quarantine.
Isolation duration is defined as: 10 days minimum from the start of symptoms if any symptoms are present. If no symptoms are present, isolation is 10 days from the most recent positive COVID-19 test. Isolation will last longer if you are having any symptoms on day 10. To come off isolation, day 10 must be completely symptom free without taking any medications to alleviate your symptoms.
Quarantine duration is defined as: 10 days from YOUR PERSONAL last "close contact" with the known COVID-19 positive person if you are not experiencing symptoms. If you experience symptoms, quarantine will extend to 14 days. Quarantine day 1 is the first day AFTER that close contact. Quarantine day 10 or 14 is the last day you must remain in quarantine. Day 11 or 15 is when you are out of quarantine.
Advice for if you quarantine with other close contacts: You must remain socially distant from all others all of the time (minimum 6 feet or more for a cumulative 15 minutes or less over a 24-hour period while wearing masks). If you have close contact with another person who is quarantining with you and they develop symptoms, that symptomatic person is now considered COVID-19 positive and your quarantine day 1 now becomes the most recent day of close contact with that positive person, thus extending your quarantine. Make sure your quarantine isn't longer by keeping your distance from others who are quarantining.
Is retesting needed to return to campus / classes? After a Covid-19 positive person has recovered, they will often still test positive even though they are no longer infectious. As such, testing for clearance to return to campus after an infection is not needed. Please note: the exception to this is loss of smell and taste. This can last for months after an infection and is not a symptom worthy of extending isolation.
A negative COVID-19 test during quarantine does not shorten the duration of quarantine. A test only indicates whether you have a high enough viral load to register as infected at the specific moment that your test sample was collected. It does not mean that you will remain free of infection for the entire quarantine. Some have developed symptoms and infection on day 5, 7 or even day 10 of quarantine.