Q: My family members tested positive, but I tested negative. They don’t wear masks around the house. Should my quarantine be longer or the same as theirs?
Quarantine begins after your last contact with the positive individual. This means that if someone in your household tests positive, even if you test negative, your quarantine will not actually start until you’re able to physically separate yourself from the positive individual. The best way to physically and safely separate yourself so you can begin quarantine is for you, or the positive individual, to temporarily relocate to a separate dwelling. If this is not possible, the positive individual can also isolate in a room that has a private bathroom, so there is no contact with others in the house.
Many times, it is difficult to separate yourself or others in the household from the positive individual. You may not have anywhere else to stay or you may need to help take care of the positive household member. If you are not able to physically separate yourself from the positive individual, your quarantine starts on the day that the positive individual is released from isolation. In this case, your quarantine will be longer than the positive individual. For the DOH Guidance on COVID-19 Cases and Contacts, click here.
Here is an example: John tested positive for COVID-19 on August 10. John experiences mild symptoms and does not need hospital care. His isolation release date would be August 21, which is ten days of isolation with release on day eleven. John lives in a shared dwelling with his wife and children who have all tested negative. If John is able to isolate in a room/area with a private bathroom, quarantine for the rest of the household can also begin on August 10. If, however, John makes contact with anyone in the household during the quarantine period, it is recommended that the quarantine period for his family is restarted from the day of contact. If John is not able to isolate in a separate room with a private bathroom, then the quarantine for John’s family would start on the day John is released from isolation, which is August 21. In this case, John’s family would then be released from quarantine on September 1, which is 10 days of quarantine and released on the eleventh day.
We know that this can be difficult for families, especially with children. We urge you to take extra precautions as we battle COVID-19 and its dangerous and highly contagious variants including Delta. Please wear your mask whenever you are around others that don’t live with you, especially when indoors, but also when outdoors and unable to maintain a safe distance from others. Wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces, especially high-touch areas and shared workspaces. If you have not been vaccinated, please do not wait any longer. The more people infected, the more chance we give the virus to mutate into what could be the next, and more deadly, variant. For information on where you can get tested or vaccinated, visit mauihealth.org/covid19.
Infection Control Manager, Maui Health