By Garrett County Joint Information Center Team
Whether you have tested positive for COVID-19, or if you have been identified as a close contact of someone else who tested positive, the requirements are the same: Stay at home!
Two different terms are used by public health, isolation and quarantine, but they both lead to the same result, requiring the person under consideration to stay at home. The only exception would be to go to a medical appointment, and then only if the provider has been informed of the situation and they still advise the person to come to the appointment.
Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have, or may have, a contagious disease. The CDC offers the following definitions:
- Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
Once a positive case is identified, they are told to isolate.
“If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked to isolate for the appropriate time period,” said Tiffany Fratz, Director of Personal Health at the Garrett County Health Department. “Isolation means you should stay home the entire time, and stay away from others in your home as much as possible.”
When you test positive for COVID-19, and you have symptoms, you will be asked to isolate for at least 10 days from the beginning of symptoms and until you have been symptom free for 24 hours. If you remain symptom free, isolate for a least 10 days from the date you were tested.
The next step to reduce the spread is a process known as contact tracing. If any potential exposures to COVID-19 are discovered through contact tracing activities, individuals who have had close personal contact will be notified. The contact tracing team works closely with neighboring counties, including those in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, to prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our area.
It is important to answer the call if caller ID shows either Garrett County Health Department or MD COVID because calls from contact tracers could show up as either one.
The CDC defines a close contact as someone who has been within 6 feet or closer to a positive case for 15 minutes or more. If you do not hear from contact tracers by phone, you have not been identified and are not on the list of close contacts.
If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure to the positive case.
“Please remember that whether you are asked to isolate or quarantine, you must stay home,” Fratz said. “That means have someone else run your errands, and don’t go to any gatherings, including church. You don’t want to spread the virus to anyone else who may become very sick, or even die.”
Throughout the pandemic, state and local health officials have required or recommended various general safety precautions such as wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, washing hands and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
For more information call the Garrett County COVID-19 hotline at 301-334-7698.