Big Family Can Equal Longer Quarantine

Most Americans realize if you have contracted COVID-19, you may be isolated for at least 10 days, or if you’ve been exposed, you may be quarantined for 14 days. However, many are surprised to learn they will need to stay home even longer if members of their household are sick and cannot totally isolate from others in the home.

  • What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?
    Quarantine keeps someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.
  • Isolation keeps someone who is infected with COVID-19 away from others.

Why would families have different lengths of quarantine?

Larger families in the same home can experience longer periods of quarantine or isolation as an infection spreads throughout their household. It is important for families to make a plan and take steps to prevent infection in their own households—especially if they live with people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Here’s one scenario of how the spread of COVID-19 can affect large families for longer periods:

Day 1 – A toddler who attends day care exhibits symptoms. The parents and their three other children in the household stay home to comply with their work, school and day care guidelines and reduce the risk of spreading infection. The toddler is tested for COVID-19. They take steps to prevent infection within the home between family members, but it is not possible to isolate their youngest child.

Day 4 – The parents receive a call three days later and learn the child is positive. The parents and public health department notify work, school and day care. Public health also follows up as a part of contact tracing. Some students at the day care may have to quarantine. The family will have to quarantine for 14 days from the day the toddler tested.

Day 8 – One of the parents develops symptoms of COVID-19. Parent is tested. The family continues to remain at home.

Day 11 –Test returns positive. The family’s quarantine is now extended 14 days from day 8.

Day 14 – The other three children and the other parent exhibit symptoms. They test.

Day 18 – All four of them test positive. The family is now in isolation for an extended time.

Day 25 – As long as they are no longer exhibiting symptoms, the family will likely be released from isolation and can return to work or school with a release from their local or state health department.

How can I protect my household?

Wear a mask; wash your hands; watch your distance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer specific guidance for large or extended families living in the same household.

Memorial Health System is thankful for the community’s efforts to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Help Stop Spread of COVID-19

Download a COVID-19 recommendations handout to share with family, friends, community members, employees and others to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 information from Memorial Health System at

Related Articles

Navigating the COVID-19 Matrix for a Return to School or Work
COVID-19 and the Flu
Memorial Health System Expands Telehealth during COVID-19 Pandemic