Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak

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Provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

In the event of an infectious disease outbreak, local officials may require the public to take measures to limit and control the spread of the disease.  This tip sheet provides information about social distancing, quarantine, and isolation.  The government has the right to enforce federal and state laws related to public health if people within the country get sick with highly contagious diseases that have the potential to develop into outbreaks or pandemics.

This tip sheet describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. It also suggests ways to care or your behavioral health during these experiences and provides resources for more help.  It includes what to expect, ways to support yourself and helpful resources.

Download the SAMHSA Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation pdf here

What Is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting closely or frequently enough to spread an infectious disease.  Schools and other gathering places such as movie theaters may close, and sports events and religious services may be cancelled.

What Is Quarantine?

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. It lasts long enough to ensure the person has not contracted an infectious disease.

What Is Isolation?

Isolation prevents the spread of an infectious disease by separating people who are sick from those who are not.  It lasts as long as the disease is contagious.