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How and When to Quarantine

What does it mean to quarantine?

Quarantine is used to separate someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and may develop illness from other people. Quarantining helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they have the virus. Therefore, it is important for persons under quarantine to stay home, separate themselves from others and monitor their health.

To prevent unintentional spread of COVID-19 to uninfected people, quarantining individuals should avoid contact with others during their quarantine period.

  • Stay home.
  • Do not go to work, school or public areas.
  • Do not allow visitors, and separate yourself from others in your home (unless they are also in quarantine).
  • Do not handle pets or other animals.
  • Do not prepare or serve food to others.

These steps will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 that can occur before quarantining individuals know they are sick, or if they are infected with the virus but have no symptoms.

When do I need to quarantine?

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should quarantine unless they meet one of the quarantine exemptions. A limited number of isolation rooms have been set aside for our residential students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic. All others will be required to quarantine in place (for those individuals who have been exposed and are asymptomatic only) or isolate/quarantine at home.

It is considered close contact if:

  • You were within six feet of someone who has COVID for at least 15 minutes.
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID.
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them).
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils.
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.

Compliance with isolation and quarantine orders will be monitored and enforced. Agreement to this precaution will be a requirement for faculty and staff and will be a requirement for admission and returning to campus for students.

Residential students in isolation or quarantine will receive food delivery and periodic check-ins. If symptoms become severe paramedics will be called. If the student does not qualify for hospital admission, but is too sick to remain in housing, the student’s emergency contact will be notified to make alternate arrangements.

How long do I need to quarantine?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home for 14 days if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

However, in order to reduce the personal burden that a 14-day quarantine may have on the physical and mental health of individuals, to prevent economic hardships, and to attempt to increase community compliance, the CDC and our Central District Health Department (CDH) now offer two options to shorten quarantine periods for persons who do not experience COVID-19 symptoms during their quarantine period.

Your quarantine can end (this calculator can be used to determine your specific dates for testing and shortened quarantine):

  • After 10 full days of quarantine without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
    • Here is an example time frame using this quarantine process. You are exposed to a COVID positive person on January 1st. You must quarantine through the end of the 11th of January and your return to campus date would be the 12th of January. You must quarantine 10 full days and return after the completion of the 10th full day of quarantine. To utilize this process you must reach out to on Day 10 of
      your quarantine and let them know if you have been exhibiting any COVID symptoms during the quarantine process.
  • After 7 full days of quarantine if there is a negative PCR test and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The PCR test must be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 8. For example, if you test on Day 5 of your quarantine, the earliest you might end quarantine
    would be Day 8, and only if your PCR test comes back negative.

    • Here is an example time frame using this quarantine process. You are exposed to a COVID positive person on the 1st of January. You must quarantine through the end of the 8th of January and your return to campus date would be January 9th. Your negative test date must be dated January 6th or later and the results must be submitted to Boise State Public Health at along with an acknowledgement that you have been asymptomatic throughout your quarantine period. Boise State Public Health will review your test and acknowledgement and, as appropriate, clear you to return to campus on January 9.

After stopping quarantine, you should:

  • Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
  • If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact Boise State Public Health.
  • Wash your hands frequently and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

More details on these options to reduce quarantine times can be found on the CDC or CDH websites.

If I am, or have been symptomatic while in quarantine but test negative for COVID-19, can I stop quarantine?

Unfortunately, a negative test result only captures a person’s health at a single point in time. In other words, a test measures infection, not exposure.

When a person is exposed to COVID-19, virus can pass from the sick person to those that they have a close contact with. If shared, the virus can then start to replicate in the body of the exposed person. It can take up to 14 days (the incubation period for COVID-19) for the body of an exposed person to “grow” enough virus for them to feel sick, experience symptoms, or register a positive test.

As an example, someone can be exposed on a Tuesday, not develop an infection yet on that Tuesday and test negative, but then develop a clinical reaction on Thursday and have a positive test Friday.

Thus, quarantine needs to last for 14 days for symptomatic individuals regardless of a negative test result received during the quarantine period.

Why is my quarantine period longer than isolation time of the person I was exposed to?

The time periods for isolation and quarantine are based on different CDC public health guidelines.

An isolation period typically lasts 10 days and is based on the time that an individual can spread COVID-19 disease to others (their infectious period).

A quarantine period lasts 7-14 days after a person is last exposed to someone who is
symptomatic or has tested positive for COVID-19. The quarantine time period is based on how long it can take after a person has been exposed for their body to start to feel sick, experience symptoms, or register a positive test (the incubation period for COVID-19).

What if I have tested positive previously for COVID-19?

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.

When do I end my quarantine?

Your last day of quarantine should be 7-14 days from the day of your last contact with the person with COVID-19.

    • If you continue close contact with the person, do not start counting your 7-14 days until your last day of contact with the infected person.
    • If you are unable to avoid close contact, you must stay in quarantine until 7-14 days from
      when the person with COVID completes their isolation period.