How to self-quarantine if you are traveling to another state

Now that lockdowns are starting to ease, it's easy to plan trips to visit friends and family, but experts warn that self-isolation is usually required whenever you travel to another state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not currently recommending that everyone self-quarantine across the board, but many state and local authorities require all interstate travelers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. This is especially important if you are coming from or traveling to a place that has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, or if you were around anyone who is particularly vulnerable to the virus.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation involves staying indoors and away from other people in your home, including those you may have initially visited. This is not the same as self-isolation. "If you're infected, you're quarantined," Dr. Thomas A. Russo, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University at Buffalo, tells Bustle. "If you have been in close contact [with someone infected with COVID-19] but have not been confirmed to be infected, you will be quarantined."

It is recommended to quarantine for 14 days after potential exposure as this is thought to be the maximum time it takes for a person to become infected with COVID-19.

Self-isolating means you need to be very careful about your interactions with others. According to the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, you should stay home with no visitors, stay at least six feet away from others in your household if possible, and avoid sharing food or even eating utensils. Dr. Russo says that while in quarantine, you need to monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, fever, and more. If any of these occur, get tested as soon as possible and quarantine if positive.

Why should I self-isolate after interstate travel?

"Self-isolation is not always required when traveling from one state to another," Dr. Russo said. "However, there are circumstances where quarantine is required or strongly recommended."

"If you are traveling from a state with high infection rates to a place where the virus has been brought under control, you should plan to self-isolate for 14 days to ensure you do not unknowingly spread coronavirus and worsen the outbreak," Dr Sachin said. Remotely Nagrani, MD, medical director at medical provider Heal, tells Bustle. It's important to stay on top of local state requirements because infection rates and restrictions are changing all the time. "Some states, such as New York, require mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days if you arrive from a state with a SARS COV-2 positive test rate of 10% or higher," Dr. Russo said.

Dr. Russo said it is also necessary to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with anyone known or highly suspected to have the coronavirus. No matter where you are, you should quarantine for 14 days after meeting that person. You should also self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who may have been infected, especially if you encounter a city or area that is an infection hotspot, or if you did not use a mask.

You also need to keep doing things like washing your hands and wearing a mask before and after you self-isolate. "No one mitigation strategy works alone," Dr. Neal Shipley, medical director of urgent care at Northwell Health-GoHealth, tells Bustle. "Isolating those who may have been exposed, wearing a mask, washing hands and practicing social distancing all come together. Use it, the effect will be better.”

If testing is not available, should I self-isolate?

"There are two primary reasons for needing to self-isolate," Dr. William Greenough, professor of medicine and clinical director of the Division of Ventilator Rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, tells Bustle. "First, so far we have not been able to easily test travelers, even from areas with escalating COVID-19 outbreaks. Second, we don't know who is actually positive." If there aren't enough tests for everyone testing, and a large proportion of people may be asymptomatic, so if you have to move between places, it's better to stay in a military camp.

How should you self-isolate?

If you must self-isolate, preparation is key. "Make sure you have enough necessary supplies to last a few weeks," Dr. Tyler Nelson, assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Missouri Hospital, tells Bustle. "This includes non-perishable food items, medication prescriptions, toilet paper and more." She recommends moving all important medical appointments to the phone or online, and making sure you have all the cleaning products you need. You won't be allowed to leave the house, so line up your Netflix and Zoom dates.

When is there no need to self-isolate?

There is one situation where self-isolation is not required. "If you can get tested right away while traveling and are negative, you don't need to quarantine," Dr. Greenough says. If you can get tested, you'll need to quarantine until you receive your results, which takes about three to five days, or until The 14-day incubation period ends.


Dr. William Greenough, MD

Dr. Sachin Nagrani, MD

Dr. Tyler Nelson DO

Dr. Thomas A. Russo, MD

Dr Neil Shipley MD