Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

Quarantine and Isolation

Isolation and quarantine are important tools for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Both strategies keep people who may be contagious away from others who might catch the virus from them. The best place to isolate or quarantine is in your own home. 

The CDC's guidance reduces the recommended time in isolation for those in the general population with COVID-19 from 10 to five days, if asymptomatic on day five, followed by an additional five days wearing a mask when around others. This change is based on data showing that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness. 

Learn more about the CDC guidance regarding COVID-19 isolation and quarantine for healthcare workers and the general population.

While you are isolating

According to CDPHE, stay home except to get medical care. If you have a medical appointment, call ahead and let them know you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms. Be sure to wear a mask to your appointment. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Don’t have friends or family visit you at home. Avoid using public transportation, rideshares, or taxis.

Monitor your symptoms. Many people recover from COVID-19 without needing to go to the doctor. However, some people may get very sick from COVID-19. If your symptoms get worse (e.g., if you start having trouble breathing) or if you are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19, call a health care provider or nurse line to find out what to do. If you are at high risk, you may be able to get monoclonal antibody therapy to help you recover. 

  • If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the dispatcher you are isolating for COVID-19. If possible, put on a mask before emergency medical services arrive.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Have another member of your household care for your pets. If you must care for your pet, wash your hands before and after contact with them.
  • Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After you use these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Wear a well-fitted mask around other people or pets, and before you enter a health care provider’s office. If you are medically unable to wear a mask, then people who live with you should not be in the same room with you, or they should wear a mask if they enter your room.
  • Clean your hands often. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. When using hand sanitizer, cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Improve ventilation in your home, if possible. Open doors and windows if weather allows, or run your HVAC system.

Vaccination Status and Isolation Recommendations 

For those who have been exposed to COVID-19, CDC recommends quarantine for five days followed by mask use for an additional five days for people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second Pfizer or Moderna dose (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and have not yet received a third dose (or second dose if receiving J&J). 

Alternatively, for those persons for whom a five days quarantine is not feasible, wearing  a well-fitting mask around others for ten days is acceptable.  People who have recently completed their primary vaccination series (within six months of their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or within two months of their J&J dose) or who have received their third dose (or second dose if receiving J&J) do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.  Regardless of vaccination status, CDC recommends testing on day 5 after exposure or immediately if symptoms develop.

Healthcare Provider Guidance 

The new guidance also recommends asymptomatic health care providers who have received all recommended vaccines — three doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of J&J with a second dose more than two months after the initial vaccine — no longer need to be excluded from work after a higher-risk COVID-19 exposure. Residential care facility staff should continue to follow current CDPHE guidance, when applicable.