Self-Quarantine Vs. Self-Isolation: What's The Difference?

Self-Quarantine Vs. Self-Isolation: What's The Difference?
People are being asked to self- quarantine and self-isolate, but Newsy finds many don't understand exactly what those terms mean.

Social gatherings across the country are being postponed as cases of the coronavirus continue to climb. People are being asked to self-quarantine and self-isolate, but Newsy finds that many people don't have a clear understanding of what those terms really mean. 

"Isolation is what you do when you are actually sick: When you have flu-like symptoms and you want to protect other people. Quarantine is when you've been exposed but you don't yet know if you're sick."

Last week, a Missouri father and daughter were accused of ignoring instructions to self-quarantine and attended a school dance. But the family's lawyer says state health officials didn't tell them to stay home.

Breaking a federal quarantine order is punishable by fines and imprisonment, but federal quarantines are rare. 

"A lot of our public health laws come, again, from the pre-vaccine era. The era when we were fighting typhoid and smallpox and cholera. So those laws were written when all were could really do was quarantine people."

When it comes to how these things are enforced, the CDC tells Newsy it really comes down to state and local health officials. So we asked a few what they are prepared to do to make sure people follow the rules.  

The Virginia Department of Health told us they have the power to use police enforcement but don't feel the need to do so at this time. Some residents are signing an agreement to comply, and others are being monitored by the department.  

In Maryland, more of the same: Health department officials regularly check in on patients. Since it's voluntary, they say police enforcement isn't necessary right now. 

In Westchester County, New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on the National Guard to help in a so-called containment area. Officials there tell Newsy the guard is not there to enforce a quarantine. 

"Those voluntary and mandatory quarantines are being enforced with a constant check by our county health department to make sure that the people who should be staying in their house are staying in their house."

"The National Guard is being deployed by New York state. They're not there to walk the streets with M- 16s. They're going to help distribute food to people who are in quarantine who can't go out and get food. So the national guard is going to help distributing that."