Updated May 26, 2020. COVID-19, or coronavirus disease 2019, 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.
COVID-19 Case Data
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?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild to severe; and sometimes death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. According to the CDC, people with the below symptoms, or combination of symptoms, may have COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of these symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Children's symptoms are similar to adults and they generally have mild illness. Please note that this list is not all inclusive. Be sure to consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Do you have symptoms of COVID-19?
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are unable to or do not wish to get tested, please consider filling out the Colorado COVID-19 Community Symptom Tracker survey. The symptom tracker helps state and local health departments in Colorado better identify trends and outbreaks in the community regardless of testing availability. For more information, please see CDPHE’s COVID-19 FAQ page.
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.
Returning to Work/Leaving Isolation
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Denver Public Health does not have, and cannot provide you with, a letter clearing you to go back to work. If you had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should isolate yourself for 10 days after symptoms started, and continue isolating yourself until you are fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medications) for 3 days. Public health is not requiring people to have a negative test to return to work. If your employer is requiring this, you may want to contact your doctor, or another health care provider, or direct your employer to this website.
Isolation Lift and Return to Work Requirements*
- Resolution of fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath) for at least 3 days (72 hours); AND
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared (or since the date of your first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test if asymptomatic.)
*Health care workers may default to their facility’s return to work requirements, which may mean returning to work sooner than the minimum 10 days if additional precautions are taken. Please discuss with your infection prevention and occupational health offices.
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?
- 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 public health orders, and your local public health orders, related to COVID-19.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home (especially 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?
- The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
- Coloradans have been asked to start wearing cloth, non-medical masks for any essential trip outside the home, to the grocery store or for any other purpose, to further help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
- The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
- View the CDC’s recommendations on how to make, use and clean/sterilize cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as doorknobs, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, body fluids, and/or secretions or excretions on them.
- Cleaning Solutions:
- Use household disinfectant with a label that says “EPA-approved. View an expanded list of disinfectants.
- Use a diluted bleach solution: To make a bleach solution, add 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) of water. For a larger supply, add ¼ cup of bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
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.
- Learn more about COVID-19 testing in Denver, including community testing and mobile testing.
- The City and County of Denver launched a large-scale, drive-up COVID-19 testing site in a parking lot of the Pepsi Center.
- Learn more about COVID-19 testing in Colorado.
COVID-19 Serological Testing Guidance for Labs and LPHA
CDPHE and DPH recommend against the use of serological assays for any purpose other than research or convalescent plasma donation. There have been no point-of-care serology tests that have been FDA approved, so until there is a better understanding of protective immunity, results from serology should not be used to make staffing or other descisions to control the spread of COVID-19.
Contact tracing involves obtaining contact information for people who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 while that person was infectious (able to spread the virus). Health departments will call someone to notify them of their potential exposure as well as to confirm some personal information and provide education and direction to resources. We will never ask for financial information or your social security number. We also cannot provide the name or any specific information about the COVID-19 patient we received someone’s contact information from due to legal privacy laws (HIPAA). As social distancing measures, such as stay-at-home orders are relaxed and more businesses reopen, contact tracing becomes a vital part in help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community.