According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates sick people with a communicable disease from people who are not sick, while quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
Isolation and quarantine serve medical functions, but they are also police powers, derived from the right of the state to take actions affecting individuals for the benefit of society.
In Colorado state law, isolation and quarantine can be applied to humans, animals, or plants. This issue brief focuses on human quarantines and provides a brief history of their use, as well as a discussion of state and federal law governing quarantine in Colorado.