Did you know that hundreds of Americans have returned home from China and been asked to stay away from others (quarantine) since the start of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak? This may happen to members of our community here in Washington State, and we can all do our part to be supportive neighbors. People in quarantine are doing their neighbors a favor by preventing further spread of the disease.
Individuals who return to the U.S. from Hubei Province and do NOT have symptoms are required to be in quarantine for 14 days, while those who have symptoms are taken immediately to the hospital for care. Quarantine is a public health best practice. In general, it refers to the separation of a person who may have been exposed to a communicable disease but NOT YET symptomatic, from others who have not been exposed. This practice of self-monitoring and evaluation helps to prevent the spread of germs to others.
Home quarantine (as opposed to quarantine in a facility) is the preferred choice for returning travelers as it allows for them to remain in a familiar and comfortable environment. Those who quarantine at home or in a facility are healthy people who are taking the necessary precaution to protect other people in their community. People in quarantine pose no risk to the public.
In general, a person in quarantine does not leave their location except to attend medical appointments. Public health staff and medical providers check in with the person daily to monitor health. The person quarantined can return to their normal daily activities once cleared by public health.
We all play a part in reducing stigma and discrimination associated with a disease outbreak. You can support our community’s response to the novel coronavirus in the following ways:
- Avoid stigmatizing people who are in quarantine. They are making the right choice for their communities. This person could be your coworker, your neighbor, or your friend. Be respectful, thoughtful, and kind.
- Do not make assumptions about someone’s health status based on their ethnicity, race or national origin. Viruses don’t discriminate and neither should we.
- Remind others that it is normal to be concerned when there is an outbreak, but the risk of novel coronavirus to the public is very low.
- Share supportive messaging on social media that people in quarantine are healthy travelers.
- Stigma will NOT fight coronavirus. Sharing accurate information will. Stay up to date on Coronavirus news through the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).