AUGUSTA — Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah broke down the differences between quarantine and isolation during Wednesday’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention briefing.
On Dec.1, Gov. Janet Mills announced that she will be quarantining as a member of her security detail has tested positive for COVID-19.
With her move into quarantine, Shah took it upon himself in Wednesday’s CDC briefing to clarify the similarities and differences between quarantining and isolation.
He said the CDC officially defines the act of quarantining as keeping a person who was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 away from others for two weeks.
“Quarantine means you do not have the disease, it just means that you could have or were exposed to somebody. Isolation by contrast is what happens when you have the disease. Gov. Mills right now is in quarantine, it does not mean she’s got the disease,” Shah said.
“Isolation also involves separating individuals from folks who are healthy. The key deference is that isolation is the term that we used to separate individuals who are ill, who have a contagious disease, to keep them away from others who don’t,” Shah said.
He added in short, isolation, for the purpose of this pandemic, is for people with confirmed COVID-19 cases. These are options for people who have been in close direct contact, which he defined as folks within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more or those who have had physical contact, like hugs, with infected people.
“Someone who has not been in direct close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 does not have to go into quarantine. To put a finer point on that, if you are someone who is a contact of a contact of a case, you do not need to be in quarantine,” Shah said.