Social Distancing, Quarantine, Isolation…

COVID-19 has become a commonly used term in our current reality, but we have also added a few other new vocabulary words to our common lingo: Social Distancing, Quarantine, & Self-Isolation. While they are often used seemingly interchangeably, they actually have different meanings. In this blog post, we are breaking down what you need to know about each of these terms & why they are important. Although the risk of severe illness may be different for everyone, anyone can get & spread COVID-19. We all have a role to play in slowing the spread by protecting ourselves, our family, & our communities. To determine what is required in your area, it is important to follow guidance from authorities where you live.

What is the difference between Social Distancing, Quarantine, & Isolation?

Social Distancing

two people with masks on 6 feet apart

Social distancing means keeping space between yourself & other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
  • Do not gather in groups
  • Stay out of crowded places & avoid mass gatherings

In addition to everyday steps to prevent COVID-19, keeping space between you & others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to this virus & slowing its spread.

When COVID-19 is spreading in your area, everyone should limit close contact with individuals outside your household in indoor & outdoor spaces. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you have no symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. (CDC, 2020)


Quarantine means that you need to keep yourself or someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Someone in self-quarantine stays separated from others, & they limit movement outside of their home or current place. A person may have been exposed to the virus without knowing it (for example, when traveling or out in the community), or they could have the virus without feeling symptoms. Quarantine helps limit the further spread of COVID-19. (CDC, 2020)


Isolation is used when sick people need to be separate (isolated) from healthy people. People who are in isolation need to remain at home or the determined place they will stay through the remainder of their sickness. In the home, anyone sick should separate themselves from other people living within the house by staying in a specific “sick” bedroom or space & using a different bathroom whenever possible. (CDC, 2020)


Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). (2020, April 7). Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from

The information included in this blog post is based on the information from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) at the time this post was written; however, to ensure you have the most recent & accurate information, we encourage you to follow the most up-to-date recommendations from the CDC & the WHO

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