Diagnosed with or Exposed to COVID-19
What Now? Isolation & Quarantine What is WA Notify? Resources

Updated Jan. 13, 2022

The words "isolation" and "quarantine" have become commonplace terms during the COVID-19 pandemic, often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two and it is important to understand the difference, especially if you or a family member or friend become sick.


Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are positive for COVID-19 with or without symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until they can no longer infect others. When at home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and use a separate bathroom (if available). How long you need to isolate will depend on your circumstances.

See isolation guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here.

See information about caring for yourself and others who have COVID-19.


Quarantine is the practice of separating someone who has been exposed to a virus from other people to see if the person becomes sick. This helps prevent the spread of the virus before symptoms develop. This is the period during which you could develop symptoms of COVID-19 based on your exposure to the case. During quarantine, it is important to avoid being in close contact with others.

See quarantine guidance from the CDC here.

Content adapted from materials and recommendations produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.