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Isolation and quarantine: What’s the difference?

Gov. Mike Parson is in isolation after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis — but why not quarantine?

“Per public health guidance, the governor is now isolating in Jefferson City in the Governor’s Mansion, and the first lady went home to Bolivar to isolate,” Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams told reporters earlier this week. 

Williams said the first couple was isolated due to a positive test while those they had recently come in close contact with were quarantining. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes isolation as keeping an individual who has tested positive with no symptoms or is sick at all away from others, usually in one’s home, for 10 days. 

The organization has two sets of recommendations for those who fall into that category: If a patient is sick or may have the virus, they are to stay home for 10 days after the symptoms first appeared, they have improved, and have gone 24 hours without a fever without the use of medicine. 

If a patient has tested positive but has not shown symptoms, it is recommended they isolate at home until 10 days have passed since the positive test. Those living with other people should remain in a separate space to prevent the spread of the virus throughout the household. 

According to the CDC’s definition, quarantine applies to those who have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive. It recommended people stay home for 14 days following the last contact with a positive individual. Additionally, people should check temperatures twice a day, pay attention to potential symptoms, and stay away from others at a higher risk of serious illness from the virus. 

Williams said the “close contact” threshold applies to people who have been within 6 feet of a confirmed case for at least 15 minutes. 

The Parsons announced their positive COVID results Wednesday, having been tested after the first lady experienced “cold-like symptoms” that morning. Mike Parson said in a social media update Thursday that he remained asymptomatic while Teresa Parson experienced minor symptoms but was “doing fine.”

Parson continues to work from the Governor’s Mansion where he signed an executive order Thursday evening and has continued to make announcements through social media.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.