They’re not the same thing, though they all have the goal of keeping others from getting infected. But what do they mean, exactly?
Here are some brief explanations.
This is for people who may have been exposed to the virus. They are asked to stay at home, or as in the case with people who were repatriated from China to the United States, to stay in a provided facility.
Some people may choose or be asked to self-quarantine, meaning they do it voluntarily just because they think they may have been exposed or they are being just cautious.
This is for people who actually have the virus or suspect they may be infected.
Those with the virus who need to be hospitalized will be kept in an isolation unit.
People who have been infected with the virus may be asked to self-isolate at home if they have no symptoms or are only mildly ill.
It’s important to call your health provider, in any case, if you develop symptoms.
Shelter in place
Until this week, the term “shelter in place” meant for most people an active shooter situation — stay where you until the coast is clear.
These people are being asked to stay at home as much as possible, meaning they shouldn’t be out unless getting food, gas or other essentials, or for medical reasons.
Health professionals, police, firefighters and other essential service providers are still expected to go to work. And of course, grocery store clerks and gas station attendants are working, too.
Going outside for a walk or exercise is allowed, and even encouraged, in the California counties where the order has been imposed. But people are asked to keep their distance from others.
It’s all about social distancing, and by now, we probably all know that means keeping six feet apart from other people when out and about.