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Oklahoma State University

Quarantine vs. Isolation: What's the Difference?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at University Health Services

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must follow CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine. Here’s what YOU need to know if you or someone you know tests positive or is exposed to COVID-19.

Defining the terms:

Isolation separates sick people from people who aren’t sick.

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to see if they become sick.


Isolation = when you are sick.

Quarantine = when you might be.

What counts as exposure? 

According to the CDC, exposure is defined as being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive person for more than 15 minutes. 💁‍♂️...🙎‍♀️

I have been exposed and told to quarantine- what does that mean exactly? 

  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 
  • You should make an appointment with University Health Services for a FREE COVID-19 test.
  • Stay quarantined, attend your classes online and keep your classmates and professors safe for 14 days. 😎
  • Monitor your symptoms and be prepared to self-quarantine for 14 days. If you don’t have symptoms after 14 days, you may participate in regular activities following all CDC guidelines. 
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, then you will move to the next steps below.

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I tested positive for COVID-19, what now? 😧

  • You MUST isolate! According to the CDC, isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Don’t leave isolation until 10 days after symptoms begin and 24 hours after you are free of fever and symptoms of respiratory infection, without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • There is isolation protocol on campus for students to have a safe and comfortable place to recover.
  • Let friends you were around know they were exposed so they can move into quarantine. 
  • OSU is here to support you. There are virtual counseling services available, meal services, virtual academic resources and more helpful resources listed here

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