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What is the difference between Social Distancing, SELF Monitoring, SELF Quarantine, Isolation, and Lock Down?

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What is the difference between Social Distancing, SELF Monitoring, SELF Quarantine, Isolation, and Lock Down?
All of these terms can be a bit confusing, so I thought it might be a good idea to define them well for you. Also, it shows your understanding and intelligence when you use the terms correctly. So let's do it!
 
SOCIAL DISTANCING: is all about putting a distance between you and others. The purpose is to slow the spread of COVID-19 (or other infection) and includes things like keeping minimum 3 feet and preferably 6 feet between you and others, not shaking hands, staying clear of crowds, restaurants, gyms, conferences, events, concerts, and public places like sports games and movie theaters. It also means staying home, voluntarily if you feel sick.
 
If you take a mass transit system to work, Social Distancing is about keeping 3-6 feet away from others, so if the transit system remains crowded, it means 2 things: people are not abiding by Social Distancing requests, and YOU need to find another way to work.
 
Staying away from nursing homes, even if your loved one is there, is another example of social distancing. I have families “visiting” their loved ones through the windows right now. That is a very effective and appropriate form of social distancing.
 
Social distancing is all about keeping a space between you and those you interact with on a day to day basis. It helps significantly in breaking the chain of transmission.
 
When our government leaders close schools, restaurants, public beaches, sporting events, gyms and so forth, they are enacting Social Distancing STRATEGIES.
 
However, If our government or the CDC ORDERS closings, then although this is still a form of Social Distancing, they have enacting these closings through more advanced measures.
 
I will discuss a higher order called QUARANTINE or "Lock-Down" shortly, which is a higher order of Social Distancing strategies, enacted by government and/or the CDC.
 
Social Distancing is where we all started in mid March 2020 when we were ASKED to stay home and hunker down, cancel conferences, work at home, and stay 6 feet away from one another.
 
Since our school system is a public system, teaching in classrooms were cancelled. Private schools followed suit. But this was NOT a "Lock-Down" or Quarantine. At this point, this was still a form of Social Distancing.
 
Social distancing is all about keeping a space between you and those you interact with on a day to day basis. It helps significantly in breaking the chain of transmission.
 
SELF-MONITORING is different than Social Distancing.
 
Self-Monitoring is all about monitoring YOURSELF for any changes and symptoms that you might experience if you end up coming down with an illness. This is recommended if you have had some DISTANT potential exposure to someone with COVID (or other illness.).
 
If you are Self-Monitoring, you should obviously also be Social Distancing at the same time.
 
For instance, let’s say someone at your workplace tests positive for COVID, and though they are not someone that you have had close contact with, you may have been in the same area as that person.
 
This is the time Self-Monitoring would be appropriate.
 
You are still at low risk of catching COVID from this co-worker, because you really didn’t have direct contact. But you were close enough to have interacted in some way, such as using the same facilities, or been close to someone else who was actually closer for a more extended period of time to the effected person.
 
Self-Monitoring would include things like taking your temperature daily, keeping in mind that if you use Tylenol, ibuprofen or other medication that actual LOWERS your temperature… that you should take your temperature BEFORE you take your medication.
 
It also includes watching for symptoms of sore throat, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, or bowel changes.
 
Self-monitoring usually does NOT mean staying home from work unless your employer asks you to.
 
Okay, then what’s the NEXT step UP from Self-Monitoring?
 
Let’s say YOU were the one who was close to someone who tests positive for COVID19. For instance, you and a co-worker eat lunch together and then within 14 days after you had lunch together, this person ends up positive for COVID.
 
Well, THIS is the time you would want to SELF-QUARANTINE.
 
SELF-QUARANTINE is needed when you are personally at risk of infection because you had direct interaction for a reasonable length of time, with someone who tested positive for COVID 19.
 
The number of days that would be reasonable to count backwards in regard to interaction with someone you find out tested positive, is about 14 days because that is the time that is felt that a person can be completely asymptomatic but still be contagious.
 
Self-Quarantine means you are AT HOME AND NOT AT WORK. And you are also being cognizant about your own symptoms, meaning you are also SELF-MONITORING for symptoms that, if they become present, you then would need to advance to being tested yourself for COVID-19.
 
Now what about your family members? Do you need to stay away from your family as well?
 
YES. If you are Self-Quarantining, you should sleep in a different room and bed and if at all possible, use a bathroom that no one else uses. You should also be careful about your dishes and silverware. They should go directly in the dishwasher after you finish using them.
 
You should do everything possible to stay away from family members, and of course you should not be going out to shop, eat or socialize, PERIOD.
 
Basically, Self-Quarantine means you are at a higher risk of infection because of a direct exposure to someone who tested positive within 14 days of your interaction with them. So even though you do not have symptoms of illness, you still had a higher chance of exposure, so you will want to Self-Quarantine for 14 days.
 
If you end up coming down with a fever or cough, body aches, shortness of breath, or any other flu like symptoms, you should CALL your doctor.
 
This is the time that would be appropriate to have yourself tested.
 
Eventually, when we have far more testing kits available, this recommendation on WHEN to test may change, but currently, these are the guidelines.
 
We all know that these guidelines are based on a concern that testing kits or supplies may run out or be used for people who are less at risk than higher risk individuals. However, there is also another reason that you should know.
 
If you test BEFORE the virus has taken hold, your test may actually turn out to be a “false negative”. This simply means that you are actually positive, but the test results remain negative until the illness takes better hold.
 
This is dangerous because it may lead you into a false security.
 
So basically, Self-Monitoring and Self-Quarantining is a way to keep people who have been exposed, or who might have been exposed, away from others as much as possible for a period of 14 days, which is the length of time felt to be the incubation time of COVID-19.
 
So, what comes next?
 
ISOLATION is the next type of effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
 
Isolation is required when a person tests positive and is diagnosed with COVID-19. This is when you are sick.
 
80% of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are able to be managed at home and 20% seem to be so sick they require hospitalization.
 
HOWEVER, whether you are recovering at home or in the hospital, you are IN ISOLATION.
 
In both places, Isolation is when specific Infectious Disease precautions are strictly followed. Anyone who is near you wears Personal Protection Equipment (or PPE for short).
 
PPE includes mask, face shield, gloves and gown for everyone who comes into contact with you. You personally will also wear a mask at any time you leave your room or be required to travel from home to the doctor, which hopefully does not have to happen.
 
The last term to define is MANDATORY QUARANTINE or “LOCK-DOWN”. These are interchangeable terms.
 
Just as it sounds, it is a mandatory OFFICIAL REQUIREMENT that is issued by the CDC or Federal Government.
 
A recent example is when asymptomatic passengers from cruise ships where some passengers tested positive for COVID-19, were required to stay at military bases for 14 days before they were allowed to go home. This action was to make sure these passengers did not also come down with COVID-19. They were on “Lock-Down” or Mandatory Quarantine – set forth by Federal Order.
 
Our current Social Distancing, here in the U.S., where we have also been asked to stay at home and in some cases Self-Quarantine, working at home and canceling events, restaurants, gyms and so forth is not “Lock-Down”. It’s a mix of Self Quarantining with Social Distancing.
 
Wuhan, China is another example. They had a true “Lock-Down” put in place by their Government. Italy too is still in Lock Down.
 
Here in the U.S., we do NOT have an official "Lock-Down" or Quarantine enacted at this time.
 
In fact, the U.S. hasn’t officially closed off entire areas, like one or more cities, since the Spanish flu in 1918.
 
Don't confuse Lock Down with the "containment zone" that was designated by officials for New Rochelle, N.Y.. This Containment Zone was designated because of a high number of COVID-19 cases in this area, but again this is not an actual “Lock-Down” or Mandatory Quarantine because people can still come and go without risk of arrest or fine.
 
Official "Lock-Down" orders or Quarantines were defined in the Public Health Service Act enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1944. This Act gave the federal government legal authority to enact quarantines and respond to public health emergencies. (The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is the agency responsible for declaring and responding to a public health emergency.)
 
The CDC also has the legal authority to issue mandatory quarantines if it deems necessary. However, the last time the U.S. federal government or CDC issued large-scale quarantine orders was during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.
 
So it's important to understand that we are NOT in QUARANTINE. If our Federal government or the CDC ordered a Lock-Down (or Quarantine), we would not be allowed to take a walk, pick up a meal in a take-out line from a restaurant, grocery shop, or likely even be able to receive mail.
 
The ONLY Quarantines we have had thus far have been related to specific groups of people traveling.
 
It's important to understand the differences here, because we need right now to be grateful that we are NOT in quarantine. Our lives would be far different if we were in an actual Federal or CDC MANDATED true Quarantine. Imagine. Imagine.
 
I know this is a little long… but I think it will clear up any confusion you may have between the different efforts going on to contain COVID-19.
 
What we do need to remember in addition however is that COVID-19 is still a NOVEL virus. And that means NONE of us have immunity to it. And so, the vast majority of us will eventually get exposed to this bad virus OR be lucky enough to keep it away until we have a vaccine that will help protect us from it.
 
The goal of all of these measures is to try to keep it contained in the meantime in order to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed. This is what happened in Italy - their health care system is completely overwhelmed, and the mortality rate has skyrocketed to 9%. They are literally having to make decisions of who lives... and who dies.
 
Keeping our health care system safe, keeps us ALL safer.
 
I hope this helps you understand the rather confusing differences of these different efforts to slow the transmission of COVID-19. God Bless You.


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