Differences between self-quarantine, isolation and sheltering in place

You may be hearing the terms self-quarantine, isolation and shelter in place in regards to coronavirus (COVID-19). It's important to understand the differences between these three things as authorities are asking individuals to help decrease the social spread of the virus.


Individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone who is confirmed positive for COVID-19, may be asked to self-quarantine – which means staying at home under strict guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends fourteen days of self-quarantine. The virus has an incubation period of up to two weeks, which means symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. It's important to remember you can still spread the virus to others during this time. Once the quarantine period has ended, and if you do not have lingering symptoms, follow your provider's instructions to return to your normal routine.

CDC guidelines include:

  • Stay at home
  • Use standard hygiene protocols daily
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Do not share household items, including towels and utensils
  • Do not allow visitors Stay at least six feet away from other people in your household



Individuals who contract COVID-19 will be put into isolation, either in a hospital or at home. If you are in isolation at home, it is important that you have a designated bedroom and bathroom (if possible) that only you use, to prevent others from getting sick.

Shelter in place

During a pandemic like COVID-19, officials may ask all individuals to shelter in place for weeks or longer. The term means you will have to stay in your home, only leaving for essential activity.

To prepare to shelter in place activities include:

  • Anything essential to you or your family’s health and safety – picking up medicine, visiting a doctor or gathering supplies to work from home.
  • Buying supplies for yourself or others, especially groceries.
  • Going for a run, hike or other outdoor activities – make sure proper social distancing is observed.
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household.
  • Performing work at an essential business, such as healthcare, grocery stores and law enforcement.

Food delivery services

These services may often be seen as a luxury or indulgence, but during a pandemic, they can provide an important lifeline for those in need. If you are following instructions and staying home, it’s important to know that food delivery options are available.

Food delivery apps

A variety of smartphone apps serve major cities and many suburbs, offering a wide selection of restaurants and cuisines you can order online and have delivered to your door for a small fee. Many of these food delivery apps are currently waiving fees to support local businesses.

Community-based food delivery organizations

There are local food delivery services to help those in need.

Local restaurants

Many restaurants are now offering curbside pick-up or delivery services in the absence of allowing people to dine-in. Call your favorite local restaurant and order your meal to-go.

For the most current information

Our top priority is the health and safety of our patients, employees and visitors. HonorHealth is working closely with public health officials to stay up-to-date with the most current information and guidelines related to the Coronavirus. Visit our dedicated Coronavirus page for the latest information.

Coronavirus information