Step 2b: Assessing Self-Quarantine Support Needs
Emphasis should be placed on helping contacts identify any need for social support during self-quarantine.
Self-quarantine of close contacts exposed to COVID-19 prevents transmission to others and is critical to the success of case investigation and contact tracing efforts. For most, self-quarantine can take place at home. If possible, contacts should be asked to voluntarily stay home, monitor themselves, and maintain social distance from others. The timeframe for self-quarantine is 14 days following the last day of exposure to a patient with COVID-19, to ensure that the contact does not get sick themselves and spread the virus to others. Adherence to self-quarantine instructions may depend on the support provided to contacts.
Self-quarantine requires that a contact remain in a specific room separate from other non-exposed people and pets in the home, and ideally with access to a separate bathroom. First and foremost, the contact tracer should assess an individual’s ability to self-quarantine in a safe environment that provides access to a private room and bathroom, as well as access to adequate food and water among other considerations. For a portion of the US population, self-quarantine at home will be a challenge. It will be particularly difficult for some of the most vulnerable populations.
Considerations must also be made for close contacts who express fear of abuse or violence if they must self-quarantine at home. Additionally, some contacts (e.g., single parents, nursing mothers, parents with children and toddlers, and other primary caregivers) may face other challenges, such as childcare or dependent adult care, that may affect their ability to self-quarantine. Social services, housing and other supportive services will be needed for those contacts who are unable to separate themselves from others in their current living situation. See Support Services for further considerations.
Close contacts will also need to be supported with health coaching to ensure daily monitoring of temperature and the onset of any COVID-19 symptoms and have access to clinical services should symptoms appear. Coordination of access to telehealth services may be needed for contacts without virtual access to a primary care provider. All close contacts entering a 14-day self-quarantine period should be provided a COVID-19 kit with the following resources*:
*The composition of the COVID-19 kit will depend on the jurisdiction’s resources.