Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Updated March 30, 2020. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will provide updated information and guidance as it becomes available. Please visit the CDPHE website for information specific to the outbreak in Colorado, including the current number of cases. For general questions, call COHELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. An outbreak of the virus that causes COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in December 2019, and cases have now been found internationally, including in the U.S.

What are coronaviruses?

Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses that have a crown-like ("corona") appearance that cause disease in animals and humans. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that are typically mild, like the common cold. Some coronaviruses seem more severe, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

What are the symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Symptoms range from mild to severe, and sometimes death.

If you become ill with fever and/or respiratory symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath, and are able to manage these symptoms at home, please remain there and practice social distancing and self-care. Please see the table below about recommendations for returning to work if you have possibly been ill with COVID-19. However, do seek medical care if it is a medical emergency. As a reminder, only visit the emergency room in life threatening situations, and be sure to call ahead with your symptoms before going to see a doctor or visiting the emergency room.

Recommendations for Returning to Work/Leaving Isolation

Category Recommendation for returning to work
Most members of the general public with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
  • At least 3 days (72 hours) after recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
Health care workers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19*
  • At least 3 days (72 hours) after recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); AND
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
Hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19***
  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared (at least 10** days if the patient resides in, or is being transferred to, a long term care setting)

*Healthcare worker or other professional that works with high-risk patients or in a group residential facility. Of note, health care workers also need to follow additional guidance including wearing a mask until at least 14 days after symptom onset and not seeing severely immunocompromised patients until 14 days after illness onset; additional details can be found in the HAN dated March 17, 2020 or at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/hcp-return-work.html

**7 days could be considered in settings with a healthcare worker shortage; preliminary data suggest most shedding of live virus ends around 7 days.

***Test based strategy is preferred when available for all hospitalized patients, as they may have longer periods of viral shedding than patients with mild or moderate disease. In particular, patients who are severely immunocompromised (e.g., medical treatment with immunosuppressive drugs, bone marrow or solid organ transplant recipients, inherited immunodeficiency, poorly controlled HIV) may also be contagious for longer than others according to CDC. CDC also recommends a test-based strategy when possible for patients who will be transferred to a long-term care or assisted living facility. If testing is not readily available, facilities may use the non-test-based strategy for discontinuation of transmission-based precautions. Facilities may choose to extend the period of isolation beyond the non-test-based-strategy duration, on a case by case basis in consultation with local and state public health authorities, for those who are severely immunocompromised or being transferred to a long-term care facility.

How is it spread? (what we understand so far)

  • Mainly person-to-person through respiratory droplets.
  • May also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces (and then you touch your eyes, mouth, face).
  • Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Who is at risk for getting COVID-19?

  • Anyone
  • Most (about 80%) persons infected have mild symptoms.
  • Persons who are older, with weaker immune symptoms may have a higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms, including pneumonia or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
  • Severe cases have the potential to cause death (but again this is a very small proportion).

What are we doing?

Currently, Denver Public Health and Denver Health are working with local and state partners to ensure accurate information is provided to the public, healthcare and other service providers. We have extensive protocols for identifying, responding to, and isolating confirmed and possible COVID-19 cases within Denver to reduce our risk of a local outbreak.

Denver Public Health is also working with community partners to ensure that social distancing measures implemented at the state and local level are being followed appropriately.

What can you do to prevent COVID-19?

Denver Public Health continues to encourage people to follow the same guidance we all know for reducing your risk of getting any respiratory virus, like the flu and colds each year:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Follow state and local public health orders related to COVID-19.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get your annual flu shot.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection.
  • Influenza (Flu) Vaccine: This past flu season more than 100,000 people got sick with the flu, and more than 10,000 died. It’s important to remember that while COVID-19 is a concern right now, there is widespread season flu activity happening all around the U.S. While the flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19, it will help protect you from the flu. Everyone six months or older should the flu shot every year to stay healthy. Protect yourself and your loved ones - visit DenverPublicHealth.org/Flu for more information about the flu, including where to get vaccinated in Denver.

What about masks?

Coronavirus Disinfection

If I start having respiratory symptoms should I go to the doctor?

  • If you are having mild symptoms, it is recommended that you stay home from work or school, avoid close contact with others, limit going out in public, and monitor your symptoms.
  • It is not recommended that you go to the doctor with mild symptoms.
  • If your symptoms become worse, please call the doctor in advance and notify someone as soon as you arrive to avoid the possibility you may spread illness to others.
  • As a reminder, only visit the emergency room in life threatening situations, and be sure to call ahead with your symptoms before going to see a doctor or visiting the emergency room.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

  • There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and antibiotics will not help with a viral disease. The treatment is supportive care for the symptoms. At home, this would include typical over the counter remedies for respiratory symptoms and fever.
  • If the disease becomes severe and you require hospitalization, treatment would include support for vital functions.
  • Do not use non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate to treat or prevent COVID-19; it can cause serious illness, including death.

Where can I go to be tested?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, first CALL a health care provider, clinic, or hospital. The provider will give you instructions on whether you need to be tested and on where to go to for care and testing. If instructed to seek care, follow the precautionary advice of the medical provider BEFORE going into any health facility.

Availability of testing is limited and is prioritized based on criteria from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services testing priorities. Please see the table below for testing priority tiers.

Tier 1

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Health care workers with symptoms

Tier 2

  • Patients in long-term care facilities or other residential settings such as homeless shelters or correctional facilities with symptoms
  • Patients over 65 with symptoms
  • Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms*
  • First responders with symptoms
  • Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms**
  • People with symptoms who work with vulnerable populations or in group residential settings

Tier 3

  • Other individuals with symptoms

*A list of people who are at higher risk of severe disease can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/people-at-higher-risk.html; however, this list may not be complete.

**Critical infrastructure workers are those working in these sectors who have a unique role in their work that cannot easily be transferred to other workers.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing in Colorado.

Questions

  • For general questions, the public can call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911 or (303) 389-1687 to be connected with a local public health representative.
  • Providers/Healthcare Personnel or Staff in Denver can call:   
    • Denver Public Health Epidemiology Line (303) 602-3614
    • After Hours: DPH/DDPHE Duty Officer: (720) 460-1706

Patient Information

More Coronavirus Information and Resources