Social Distancing, Stay-At-Home, Shelter-In-Place, Quarantine: What does it all mean?


The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind with information coming from every direction.

Today it was announced that Nueces County is now under “stay-at-home” orders. There is definitely some confusion about what this and other terms used to describe safe social behavior actually mean, so we thought we’d do a little research and try to un-muddy the waters, as best as we can!

First of all, the million dollar question: Why can’t we go shopping and go to work and hang out with our friends and family?

The idea behind the “stay-at-home” policy is that social distancing/stay-at-home/isolation will reduce the risk of spreading the disease to a point where hospitals and emergency rooms are overwhelmed. Once hospitals are overwhelmed, medical care will no longer be available for everyone who is sick, and people will die – not just from COVID-19 – but also from treatable conditions like broken limbs, strokes, heart attack, and more.

What Does It MeanNow…let’s chat…

Social Distancing

Social distancing is where people are asked to limit the size of groups that gather, cancel events, and close public spaces. The goal is to reduce the frequency of outings, the number of people gathering and potentially spreading germs, and the (closeness) of interactions between people, while still allowing them to carry out their necessary day-to-day activities.

Why should we practice social distancing? to reduce face-to-face contact and the spread of germs. The key to understanding social distancing is knowing that many people who are infected with the new strain of coronavirus will not show any symptoms at all- even when they can quickly and easily infect other people. 

  • Only go to public spaces if you absolutely must.
  • If you have to go out in public, stay six feet away from others
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend in public
  • It is YOUR responsibility to practice social-distancing – even if others around you are not

Stay-At-Home / Shelter In Place

From what I can gather, these are essentially the same – the language is just a little more palatable to say “stay-at-home” vs “shelter in place”. What this means is: STAY HOME. People need to stay home except for essential travel (such as picking up food or groceries, attending doctor appointments, or picking up prescriptions). Most non-essential businesses are being ordered to close during this time.

Questions you might have:

  • Can I still leave my home? Yes. You may still go to the grocery store and run other critical errands such as dr. appointments and picking up food. If you work in an essential business, you are still allowed to travel to and from your job.
  • Can I walk my dog/ride my bicycle/go for a jog? Yes. You may still go outside – in fact getting fresh air and exercise is encouraged – however, you should maintain 6 foot distance from anyone outside of your family/home unit. We are so fortunate to live in a nice climate – take the time to go for a walk around the block or play catch in the backyard! 
  • Can I see my friends and family? No, not in person. All private gatherings outside of your home are prohibited. This is to keep you and your family/friends safe! Technically/legally, you are still allowed to visit with people, but public health officials and elected leaders have asked people to practice restraint.

Quarantine & Isolation

We are seeing the word “quarantine” being thrown around a lot – in fact, I am using a ton. My family has CHOSEN to go into self-quarantine. What this means for us is that, over a week ago, we decided to keep our family unit home. Our kids are still playing outside – but not with friends. We are still going for walks and swimming in the lake – but not if anyone else is there. My kids hate this and, to be honest, we were one of the only ones to do this in our neighborhood. But we have decided that for our family, limiting our exposure is the best way to help #flattenthecurve and, more importantly, keep our family safe. We are choosing to focus in on this time and SLOW DOWN and just be. My attitude has done a lot to make this isolated and confusing time feel meaningful.

Feeling the love during quarantine : Coastal Bend MomsThat being said, the term quarantine ACTUALLY is used for people who may have been exposed  to the new strain of coronavirus, but are not yet sick. For people showing symptoms of COVID-19, the Quarantine should last for 14 days from the date of the first exposure, if known, so it is possible to determine if the person will actually develop the infection, or not. The very last thing we want to do is underestimate when someone got sick, and allow them to mingle with others.

Why should you practice quarantine if exposed? You may have the virus even if you are not showing any symptoms. Most people who have COVID-19 will have mild to no symptoms. It’s critical that the potentially infected person stay away from others until they find out for sure, from testing, or until 14 days have passed.

What can you do if under quarantine?

  • Stay home except for emergency medical care.
  • Self-monitor daily for symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Stay in separate living quarters from others in the home, including using a separate bathroom if one is available.
  • Wash and disinfect surfaces regularly.
  • Keep six feet away from other people.
  • Have food and necessities delivered.
  • If symptoms develop, call your health care provider to see if you should be tested for COVID-19.

Isolation is the term used for keeping people who are sick from people who are not sick in order to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. This infection is very contagious.

  • Stay home except for medical care.
  • Live in a separate area from others in the home, if possible, and use a different bathroom
  • Do not see other people
  • Have food and necessities delivered
  • Wash hands with soap and water often
  • Wash surfaces regularly, including doorknobs, cell phones, bedding, towels, sheets and clothing
  • Use separate utensils and dishes from others in the home

This is a confusing time, for sure, but we CAN do our part to keep our families and community safe and healthy. We encourage you to STAY HOME and utilize this time, as scary as it may be financially, to love your family and re-connect. This WILL pass eventually and we will all look back….how do you want to remember this time?

COVID Memories in the Future : Coastal Bend MomSources:

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Elisabeth Tabor
Elisabeth is so excited to be living her best life in Corpus Christi. After years of visiting the beaches of the Coastal Bend, she is loving the salty air, sandy toes, and wind in her hair. No stranger to City Moms Blog Network, Elisabeth began contributing to Austin Moms Blog in 2012 and is thrilled to continue the sisterhood here in Corpus Christi! She is married to Rad Brad and has two boys, Hudson and Finn. Elisabeth enjoys all kinds of music, singing at the top of her lungs - especially in the school drop off line when the kids are getting out of the car - being outdoors as much as possible and is a complete and total proponent of NOT having a television in the living room.