Isolation and Quarantine for COVID-19 in the United States, 2020–2022

Isolation and Quarantine for COVID-19 in the United States, 2020–2022

Published: Mar 22, 2023
Publisher: Clinical Infectious Diseases (online ahead of print)

John E. Oeltmann

Nickolas DeLuca

Jonathan P. Smith

Chandra Couzens

R. Ryan Lash

Barrington Harvey

Melissa Boyette

Alicia Edwards

Philip M. Talboy

Odessa Dubose

Paul Regan

Penny Loosier

Elise Caruso

Dolores J. Katz

Melanie M. Taylor

Patrick K. Moonan


Public health programs varied in ability to reach people with COVID-19 and their contacts to encourage separation from others. For both adult cases of COVID-19 and contacts, we estimated the impact of contact tracing activities on separation behaviors from January, 2020 until March, 2022.


We used a probability-based panel survey of a nationally representative sample to gather data for estimates and comparisons.


An estimated 64,255,351 adults reported a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result; 79.6% isolated for >5 days, 60.2% isolated for >10 days, and 79.2% self-notified contacts. 24,057,139 (37.7%) completed a case investigation and 46.2% reported contacts to health officials. More adults who completed a case investigation isolated than adults who did not (>5 days, 82.6%; >10 days, 69.8% versus >5 days, 78.2% and >10 days 54.8%; p-values for both measures <0.05).

84,946,636 adults were a contact to a COVID-19 case; 73.1% learned of their exposure directly from a case; 49.4% quarantined for >5 days, 18.7% quarantined for >14 days, and 13.5% completed a contact tracing call. More who completed a contact tracing call quarantined than those who did not (>5 days, 61.2%; >14 days, 25.2% versus >5 days, 48.5%; >14 days, 18.0%; p-values for both measures <0.05).


Engagement in contact tracing positively correlated with isolation and quarantine. However, most adults with COVID-19 isolated and self-notified contacts regardless of whether the public health workforce was able to reach them. Identifying and reaching contacts was challenging, and limited the ability to promote quarantining, and testing.

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