Five Congressmen: “Self-Quarantine.” What Might They Be Doing at Home?

Joseph R. Anticaglia MD
Medical Advisory Board

Five members of Congress announced they have self-quarantine themselves after having contact with a person who tested positive for Coronavirus Disease-19 [COVID-19] at a Conservative Political Action Conference in late February of this year. What might they be doing and what must you do to self-quarantine?

Isolation vs. Quarantine

  • Isolation separates “sick” people with a communicable disease from healthy people.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of supposedly “healthy” people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.


People exposed to a person who tested positive for the new coronavirus are expected or can be ordered to follow the CDC self-quarantine guidelines. The quarantine, stay-at-home confinement, also applies to people returning from China, Iran, Italy and South Korea or those who have been on a cruise ship where passengers tested positive for COVID-19. It involves several factors:


  • You’re confined to your home for 14 days (unless there a need to see a doctor).
  • Ideally, you should be confined to a separate room with your own bathroom
  • Use n95 masks when appropriate
  • Take your temperature twice a day.
  • Use separate towels, plates and utensils at home.
  • Do not share food or drinks.

‘Pay Attention to Your Symptoms’

If you were not sick when you started self-quarantine and subsequently complained of cough, sneezing, fever or shortness of breath, contact your physician by telephone for further instructions. The city or state health department should be notified and they need to monitor you more closely and do the appropriate testing.

Other Public Safety Health Measures

Public safety measures, at this time, vary from state to state. They can cover a variety of health emergencies

Social Distancing

  • Social distancing includes keeping “six” feet away from others, and in general, avoid going out in public except for grocery shopping, going to the pharmacist or to your doctor.
  • Treat everybody as if they have COVID-19.
  • It’s permissible to go out for a solitary walk, but do not congregate in public places such as parks.
  • Do not use taxis or public transportation.
  • Some have recommended you limit or avoid contact with pets.


It means to stay in your home excluding certain activities. It has been described as a more vigorous form of social distancing. Some exceptions of shelter-in-place are:

  • Obtaining supplies for yourself or delivering them to another person (groceries, medications)
  • To care for a person in another household
  • Going for a walk, run or other outdoor activity as long as you keep your social distance
  • Working at an essential job: doctors, hospital workers, policeman, firemen, pharmacists)

Face Mask

Wear a face mask, (preferably n95 mask), if you have flu-like symptoms, particularly if you’re in relatively close contact with other people or if you must go out in public, for instance, to visit the doctor. The purpose is to prevent you from spreading the disease to another person. The common surgical masks are designed to keep germs behind the mask. Discard face masks so it doesn’t act as a reservoir for infection.

General Precautions

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose if you need to cough or sneeze with tissues and put them in a lined covered waste basket.
  • Clean surfaces you frequently come in contact with such as phones, keyboard or doorknobs.

The importance of washing your hands was highlighted in an article written by Ferris Jabr, “Why Soap Works.: He wrote, “An ancient and fundamentally unaltered recipe remains one of our most valuable medical interventions. A drop of ordinary soap diluted in water is sufficient to rupture and kill many types of bacteria and viruses, including the new coronavirus that is currently circling the globe.”

Stay Home!

COVID-19 is burgeoning across the U. S from California to Massachusetts. Currently New York is the epicenter of COVID-19. What state will be next? Several Governors of the United States have declared a state of emergency. Schools have been closed, movement of the people restricted and public educational messages about the virus have bombarded the airways and the internet.

City and State officials have decried the dreadful lack of sufficient numbers of COVID- 19 testing kits as well as ventilators, masks and surgical gowns. Health care workers, in many instances, desperately need personal protective equipment (PPE).

For instance, the lack of testing kits, they argue, has hampered their efforts to “contain and mitigate” coronavirus-19. With adequate testing, more cases of this disease will be uncovered; clusters of the virus identified so that health officials can better manage this outbreak.

The fallout from COVID-19 has affected all segments of society. The clergy has been preaching to empty pews, sporting events have been suspended, theaters have been closed down, small businesses boarded-up and political debates without a live audience.

Many will get COVID-19 but it’s estimated that 98% or more of infected people will successfully fend off this virulent intruder. Yes, in some ways, doctors are practicing 19th century medicine. Wash your hands. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol; anything else? As of today, health care professionals don’t have an effective cure or vaccine to quickly blunt this pandemic.

If you have flu-like symptoms or not, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and others is to practice social distancing, and when necessary; “Stay Home and Self-Quarantine!”


  1. CDC; Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposures: March 7, 2020
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention — CDC; About Quarantine and Isolation, January 27, 2020
  3. CDC; Quarantine and Isolation; September 29, 2017
  4. Cindy Sul; What Taiwan can teach the world on fighting the coronavirus; NBC News, March 10, 2020
  5. 2019
  6. The 2019 New Coronavirus Outbreak What to Know? What to Do?
  7. Joseph R. Anticaglia, MD; The 2019 New Coronavirus Outbreak What to Know? What to Do? Doctor’s Column, HC Smart, February, 2020
  8. Ferris Jabr; Why Soaps Works; New York Times, March 13, 2020


After the COVID-19 outbreak, China quarantined 64 million people. Italy has lockdowned and initiated self-quarantine measures for 60 million people, its entire country. Australia has lock-downed its entire country.

This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.