A guide to coronavirus precautionary terms

by Amelia Chandless | April 6, 2020

As the coronavirus situation escalates, the media and government officials are using many new phrases regarding restrictions. The Lancer staff is here to explain the differences between these terms, such as social distancing, shelter-in-place, quarantine, and self-isolation.

Social distancing

Social distancing is the first step of preventing the spread of coronavirus. To effectively social distance, people limit the time they physically spend around others by avoiding crowded areas, working from home, and trying to stay six feet away from others at all times. Though it is not necessary at this stage, some companies are enforcing social distancing by having employees work from home. However, it is effective to hinder the spread of the virus.


Shelter-in-place orders are specific rules from the government directing people to stay at home. People must remain in their house for the majority of the shelter-in-place period, only leaving the premises for essentials like food, medicine, or exercise. However, when completing these essential errands, it is important to keep social distancing and practice good hygiene, such as washing hands and coughing or sneezing into the elbow. Shelter-in-place orders are also known as lockdowns, which California is currently in. These orders do not affect “essential” workers, the definition of which is determined by the specific decree.


Quarantine is for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus in order to determine if they have been infected, but they do not yet show symptoms. People who are quarantined should not leave their homes and should stay away from family members or roommates.


Unlike quarantine, self-isolation applies solely to people who display coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive. They isolate themselves to the greatest extent possible to ensure the virus does not spread.

Currently, most Lancers are affected by shelter-in-place orders. We can still go outside, spend time with our family and housemates, and enjoy some freedoms. However, it is extremely important to stress that the lockdown is essential to stopping the spread of the coronavirus. The longer we do not take lockdown seriously, the more time we will have to spend in lockdown in the future. So please, wash your hands, stay six feet away from strangers, and be mindful of others during this difficult time.

Categories: Science

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