TRICARE FAQs: COVID-19 and Quarantine


A woman chats with a friend via smartphone

Update: There's new information available on how TRICARE covers COVID-19 tests. Visit Coronavirus Testing Coverage to learn more.

As you continue to do your part to slow the spread of the coronavirus, you may have questions about your TRICARE benefit. You can find answers to your frequently asked questions (FAQs) and more on the TRICARE Coronavirus FAQs page.

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about quarantine and COVID-19:

Question: What is quarantine? And why is 14 days recommended for COVID-19?

Answer: Quarantine is when a person or group of people—who have reason to believe they’ve been exposed—separate from others to prevent the spread of a disease. This helps you avoid transmitting a disease before you know you’re sick or feel any symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you self-quarantine for 14 days if you’ve recently had close contact with someone known to be sick with COVID-19. The symptoms of this illness usually appear 2-14 days after exposure. You can learn more about COVID-19 symptoms by going to the CDC website.

Question: How is quarantine different than isolation?

Answer: You may sometimes hear the words quarantine and isolation used in the same way during everyday conversation. But it’s important to know they have different meanings. Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of people who aren’t sick who may have been exposed to COVID-19 (or another communicable disease). The quarantine period is also used to see if people who may have been exposed become ill. It’s possible that they have the disease but don’t show symptoms. Isolation, on the other hand, separates people who are actually sick with COVID-19 from those who aren’t sick.

If you need to quarantine or isolate yourself from others, follow these steps recommended by the CDC:

If you’re in quarantine, you should:

If you’re in isolation, you should:

  • Stay home until it’s safe to be around others.
  • Stay in a specific room or area and away from other people.
  • Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.

Visit the CDC website to learn more about caring for yourself or others in isolation.

Question: If one person in my family is in quarantine, does that mean everyone else in the house is in quarantine, too? If not, how do we protect our non-quarantined family members?

Answer: Yes. If someone in your household is in either quarantine or isolation, everyone who lives there should quarantine and avoid going out in public, if possible. The CDC states, “If your household includes one or more vulnerable individuals, then all family members should act as if they, themselves, are at higher risk.”

To protect your health and the health of those you live with, the CDC recommends these tips:

  • Provide a separate bedroom and bathroom for the person who’s sick, if possible.
  • If you need to share a room with someone who’s sick, make sure the room has good air flow (by opening a window or turning on a fan).
  • If you need to share a bathroom with someone who’s sick, the person who’s sick should clean and disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in the bathroom after each use.
  • Don’t help prepare food if you’re sick.
  • Eat in separate rooms and areas.

Keep in mind that COVID-19 can spread through close contact with someone (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets from coughs, sneezes, or talking. So, keeping your distance whenever possible is important. Contact your provider if you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. He or she can screen your symptoms and arrange for you to get tested, if necessary. If you have questions, be sure to also contact your provider.

After you recover or learn you aren’t sick with COVID-19, be sure to continue to practice healthy habits. Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. The CDC also recommends wearing a face mask or covering whenever you’re out in public and can’t maintain 6 feet of social distancing. With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, social distancing and wearing face coverings in public will be very important. Since April, the Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper announced Department of Defense (DOD) guidance on the use of face masks and coverings, “Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance in public areas or work centers.”

For more on COVID-19 FAQs, check out ones on telemedicine, face masks, and elective procedures. As you continue to ask important questions, TRICARE is committed to getting you answers. Learn more about how to quarantine the right way to help limit further spread of COVID-19. Stay safe, and stay informed.

Sign up for email alerts, and keep up with TRICARE and COVID-19 updates.

At the time of posting, this information is current. Visit or TRICARE COVID Guidance for the most current COVID-19 information.

Last Updated 10/14/2021