There is no shortage of psychological data on the effects of quarantine situations. Those who are experiencing anxiety, depression, or any other mental health problems that arise in these situations should never be invalidated. Their struggles are real, verifiable, and should be taken seriously. If you know of anyone who is experiencing potentially life-threatening mental health problems due to being quarantined (or for any reason,) please contact someone who can help them. You may very well be saving their lives.
In fact, there are several psychological effects that quarantine and isolation can have on a person or persons, or even entire societies. They are all valid and should also be taken seriously. We should never mock or dismiss someone because they are struggling with their situation.
There are also effects on the general economy, personal finance, and the inability for too many to have access to proper nutrition and potable water. These are also very serious problems, and need to be understood for what they are. People are genuinely suffering financially, as well as from starvation and thirst. This should not be taken lightly.
However, this article is focused on what quarantine is, and why it is so important to you and where you live.
What does quarantine mean, and is it the same as isolation?
In general, a quarantine is “a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.” As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, the practice of a quarantine specifically involves:
… the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease.
The CDC defines quarantine to be used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. A person may have been exposed to the virus without knowing it, or they could have the virus without feeling symptoms. Quarantine helps limit further spread of COVID-19.
Isolation is something totally different. It is the separation of the sick from the healthy. Someone who is in isolation has already been identified as being infected and requires separation. This is why there are no visitors allowed to see their loved ones who are in the hospital, or if they are isolated at home. Even those who live with them should not come into contact with them without proper protective gear.
Back to quarantine…
When a quarantine order is enacted by body of government, especially on a national level, it is done so for the protection of the entire population because the threat of widespread infection is so great that literally nobody is completely safe to go about life as usual due to a high contagion factor. It is a broad brush approach to a problem when a more precise solution is not feasible any longer. It is the big gun in the arsenal of preventative containment. The nuclear option.
You, as an individual, may be perfectly healthy. The town you live in may even have little or no confirmed cases yet. It may be frustrating and seem like punishment for you to be lumped in with everyone else. But you may be infected and be asymptomatic and therefore able to infect another person. You may not be infected at all but someone out there may be infected and asymptomatic and infect you.
But a quarantine isn’t meant just to keep sick people infecting the healthy, but to protect the healthy from possibly being infected by someone who is unknowingly asymptomatic by either direct contact or by contaminating surfaces that are accessible to the general public.
A quarantine is an invasive process by definition, and it is put into place because the feasibility to make exceptions on an individual basis is non extant. It’s difficult enough to make general exceptions on the basis of age or gender, and even more so to single out geographical areas. Invariably there will be people who suffer more than others. The elderly, those with disabilities, those who have pets and no outside property to walk them, those who lack efficient transportation, those whose allotted time out has been reduced due to further quarantine restraints, etc.
The list goes on as to why people believe they should be the exception to the rule. But unless they are essential, and most aren’t, exceptions cannot be made because that starts a chain of exceptions that will ultimately negate the effect of the quarantine in the first place.
Governments have enough on their plates dealing with those already infected and hospitalized, with those who are on the brink of starvation, who haven’t two coins to rub together, and balancing all of that with how to keep the country from going bankrupt of becoming insolvent.
I am not by any means stating that governments are perfect. Heaven knows there’s corruption and incompetence. But that’s a whole other story.
I would ask of you, dear reader, to understand that quarantine is not the same as incarceration. Quarantine is a consequence of the protection of many. Incarceration is a consequence of the conviction of a crime, such as violating a quarantine.
You are not being punished…