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Quarantine & Isolation Guidelines

Isolation versus quarantine - what is the difference?

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. A person in quarantine should not interact with others, even in the home, until the quarantine period has ended.

Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. A person in isolation must remain apart from others, even in the home, until their infectious period ends, either with a negative test or after 10 days following the end of symptoms.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and you are symptomatic

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you must self-isolate:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving. (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​.)

If you had severe illness from COVID-19 (you were admitted to a hospital and needed oxygen), your healthcare provider may recommend that you stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after your symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days) and you may need to finish your period of isolation at home.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and you have no symptoms

If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after:

  • 10 days have passed since the date you had your positive test

If you develop symptoms after testing positive, follow the guidance above for “If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and you are symptomatic.”

If you come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19

People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine (stay at home and monitor your health):

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19

What counts as close contact?

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

If someone who attended Mass was diagnosed with COVID-19

If your parish receives a report that someone who has attended a Mass was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19, you must contact your local Board of Health and follow their protocols. There can be a wide variety of responses. Some boards will actively pursue this, and others will not. Do not presume anything about your local board of health – simply notify them.

Note that because we are wearing masks and social distancing, it is unlikely that merely being in the church at the same time as the person who got sick would constitute “close contact.” It is better to err on the side of caution; therefore, take the following steps:

  • Make a general announcement to anyone who had signed up to attend the Mass where the exposure might have occurred (if you use a reservation system), on your website and/or through email to those who registered for the Mass in question encouraging them to check with their own physicians and follow their recommendations. See below for sample language.
  • At the very least, parishioners who attended the Mass where the possible exposure occurred should be told to monitor their own health, and if they show any symptoms, contact their own physicians.
  • Because some people who have been exposed to the virus do indeed contract the illness but never show symptoms, you should urge them to at least notify their physician that a possible exposure has occurred.
  • Notify the Office of Risk Management via corona@rcab.org or the hotline: 617-746-5750.
  • Prior to reopening the church to the public, conduct a thorough, deep, cleaning and disinfecting of the church in accordance with cleaning guidance provided on the Office of Risk Management website, click here and CDC guidelines, click here. Continue routine cleaning and disinfection. This includes cleaning and disinfecting prior to and after Masses.

Sample language to use to notify parishioners of potential COVID-19 exposure

Please be advised that _________ Parish received a report that someone who attended ___service_______ on ___date_______ was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19. We have notified the ___city/town_______Board of Health. We have also cleaned and disinfected all of the spaces used during the service.  Anyone who may have attended services since that date should monitor their own health and should consider contacting their own physicians for guidance. Thank you for continuing to be vigilant about the importance of social distancing and wearing your mask at all times.