How to Self-Isolate When You Have COVID-19


When a doctor first confirmed that I had symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), I was a nervous wreck. My husband Nathan and I live in a small, one-bedroom apartment in New York, and I had been coughing — at times, violently — for a couple days, though I tried to keep my distance and always buried my head in my sweatshirt. I feared Nathan had already been exposed to the virus, but I took the doctor’s advice and immediately went into isolation to try to protect him as best as I could.

“Quarantine” and “isolation” have very specific meanings when it comes to COVID-19. People who have been around someone with the virus should quarantine at home for 14 days — that’s how long it can take to develop symptoms, if you’ve been infected — while those who are already sick should isolate themselves even from their family or roommates.

Spending so much time alone was one of the hardest things about having COVID-19. At first, when my symptoms were mild, it felt like an overreaction. When I became very sick, it was lonely and, at times, a bit frightening. But as far as we know, Nathan was never infected, and that made every day I spent in isolation worth it. While there may have been other factors at play (research suggests that his blood type may be less vulnerable to infection, for example), I do believe the precautions we took helped keep the virus from spreading. Here’s how you can protect your household, too.

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