Keeping each other safe with quarantine and isolation

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our campus community is an important mission at the University of Utah. We have taken extraordinary measures to keep our students, faculty and staff as safe as possible. We have followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made changes to our protocols based on the latest information from them.

Recently the CDC and the Utah Department of Health changed their recommendations for the length of quarantine for someone who has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 but not showing symptoms. Previously it was 14 days but now both say there is an option for reducing quarantine to 10 days.

As a university, we still recommend a 14-day quarantine for those who may have been exposed. However, for those individuals for whom the 14-day quarantine is an undue burden, the university has approved a modified quarantine of 10 days, as long as the individual works with contact tracing to monitor their temperature and symptoms daily through day 14. If a person is asked to quarantine, they should stay away from other people, particularly those at greater risk for COVID-19, and not go out except to go to a medical appointment.

While Governor Herbert recently changed quarantine rules for K-12 students in the state the university is not included in the population impacted. All people who come in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive are required to quarantine.

Quarantine is a public health term that means that people who are not yet sick, but who have been exposed to COVID-19 are separated from the general population so they don’t unintentionally infect somebody else.

This is different from isolation.

Isolation is a public health term that means that people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and/or tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are separated from the general population until they are no longer infectious. For general guidelines, individuals with COVID-19 are asked to isolate themselves for 10 days from the start of their symptoms.

If a person is told to isolate, they should stay away from other people, particularly those at greater risk for COVID-19, and not go out except to go to a medical appointment. They generally can leave isolation AFTER 10 days if their symptoms are improving and they are fever-free.

We know that this virus is making life difficult for everyone. But the only way we can get through this without more lives lost and without furthering straining our health care resources is to work together and protect each other.