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Infectious COVID patients monitored by their doctor

Some of the daily COVID reports in the Mail Tribune show the number of infectious patients in the county. How are those cases monitored, and presumably quarantined, to ensure they aren’t spreading the infection. I know some people may not act responsibly, and it is very concerning.

— Via email

Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County medical director, set us straight on the difference between “quarantine” and “isolation.” The two terms get used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.

Isolation is for patients who are sick, symptomatic and shedding the virus. Obviously, you want to keep those folks away from people, so you keep them at home until they are no longer infectious. But there’s a handoff that takes place, with Jackson County Public Health counting on the individual’s primary care provider to check in and offer guidance to the patient.

“We want to make sure that a health care provider can give them guidance as to how to manage themselves,” Shames said.

Those providers coordinate with public health, but Shames says such relationships can always be improved.

Someone in isolation can be isolated for less time than traditional quarantine. Those folks are asked to stay at home for two weeks. This is especially important for a disease like COVID-19, where people infected can spread the disease without symptoms. Folks in quarantine are contacted by contact tracers on a daily basis, Shames said, checking in to see if they have developed symptoms or need anything.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.