Isolation or Quarantine


Frequently asked questions about isolation, quarantine and testing.

Did the CDC just change its guidelines on quarantining?

Yes. The CDC The CDC changed their quarantine guidelines on December 2, 2020. The incubation period for COVID-19 has not changed, it’s 14 days. But the shortened guidance may alleviate some of the constraints on people staying home for 14 days.  In some populations like congregate care and residential care, the guidelines will not shorten the quarantine times. But for the general public, contacts who have monitored themselves for symptoms and have not had any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 their quarantine can end after ten days; but they still need to monitor for signs and symptoms for 14 days.  Additionally, if someone is monitoring for signs and symptoms and has either a molecular or antigen test performed on day five of quarantine and the test is negative, 48 hours later on day 7, you can end your quarantine, but you still have to monitor your symptoms for the full 14 days. For more information, see the updated CDC guidelines here.

How long do I quarantine if someone in my household tests positive for COVID-19?

If the COVID + individual can use their own bedroom and bathroom, separate from those used by other household members and other household members can deliver food to them, the household contacts start their quarantine the day the COVID + individual starts their isolation. This would function like quarantine for non-household contacts.

If the COVID + individual cannot use their own bedroom and bathroom and/or must use shared spaces for meals, the household members will have an extended quarantine for 7, 10, or 14 days beyond the COVID + individual’s isolation period. This will mean the household close contacts will quarantine for a total of 17 to 24 days (10-day isolation + additional quarantine period beginning on the last day of isolation). Household close contacts who develop symptoms during their quarantine should seek testing.

For additional information from CDPHE, click here.

What is the Definition of exposure?

Recent COVID-19 exposure: Having close contact (generally less than 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, depending on the exposure) with a person with COVID-19 from two days before their symptom onset (or positive COVID-19 test) until they meet criteria to discontinue isolation. Depending on the workplace environment and types of person-to-person interactions, high-risk "close contact" exposures can occur in fewer than 15 minutes. Note, close contact isn't necessarily 15 consecutive minutes. Someone who was close to a sick person multiple times during a work shift may have been exposed and need to be quarantined.

For more information on COVID-19, click here

What are the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) guidelines on quarantining?

CDPHE’s guidelines can be found here.

What is the updated CDPHE guidelines on sports?

CDPHE has clarified the sports quarantine guidance as follows: Organized sport activities (training, competition, etc.) must be cancelled for 14 days from the date of last exposure. Therefore, any student identified as exposed cannot participate in organized sports for 14 days. This also applies to sports governed by the CHSSA variance. Students can return to the classroom following shortened quarantine guidance (7 or 10 days)

If my child is in quarantine, do other family members have to be in quarantine or have extra restrictions on their activities?

No.  The quarantine restrictions apply only to the person who was in close contact with a COVID-19 case.  These restrictions do not apply to family members of the quarantined student.

Can a child or teacher "test out of quarantine?"  Will a negative COVID test allow a person to stop being in quarantine?

No.  COVID tests are imperfect, and only tell us the infection status on the date of the test.  Currently the CDC and CDPHE do not allow a regime of negative COVID tests to get out of quarantine early.  COVID-19 tests are not required in quarantine, but Public Health does recommend getting one in order to track where the infection may have come from and where it may be going.  Public health wants to stop the transmission track of COVID-19 infections. Waiting 5-7 days after being exposed is encouraged though.  

If my child tested positive last month for COVID-19, does she/he need to go into quarantine again if a classmate has COVID-19 this month?

No.  The CDC allows that if a person has a positive COVID-19 test and infection, they are not required to go into quarantine during the following 90 days if they come in close contact with another COVID-19 case.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Isolation means stay away from other until: 

  •  No fever for 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medicine)

  • Other symptoms have improved

  • 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared 

 Quarantine: For people who are not sick, but may have been exposed. Stay away from others for 14 days to see if you get sick. 

When should I get a COVID test after being in close contact to an infected person? 

The ideal time frame for getting a COVID test is 5-7 days after the last contact with the infected person.

Where should I go to get tested?  

The Routt County Public Health Department provide community testing by appointment. Routt County Public Health is testing anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and anyone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Patients with health insurance are encouraged to contact their primary clinic for testing. Please note that community testing is NOT for people who need COVID-19 tests to travel. For more information, click here.

If I am a close contact, which test should I get?

People without symptoms, which will be most close contacts, should only get a PCR test.  Antigen tests should only be used for people with COVID-19 symptoms. 

If my antigen (also called the rapid test) test was negative, does that mean I do not have COVID-19?

No, a negative antigen test does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID-19.  Antigen tests are not as sensitive as PCR tests for detecting COVID-19 and can provide false negative results.  Also, antigen test sensitivities vary greatly between different antigen tests.  If you have COVID-19 symptoms and your antigen test was negative, you must also do a backup PCR test to confirm you do not have COVID-19.    

What is the difference between the types of tests available for COVID-19?

There are two different types of tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. A diagnostic test can show if you have an active coronavirus infection and should take steps to quarantine or isolate yourself from others.

 Currently there are two types of diagnostic tests – molecular (RT-PCR) tests that detect the virus's genetic material, and antigen tests that detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. Samples are typically collected with a nasal or throat swab, or saliva collected by spitting into a tube.

 An antibody test looks for antibodies that are made by the immune system in response to a threat, such as a specific virus. Antibodies can help fight infections. Antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks after recovery.