COVID-19 Coronavirus

CDC image of a Coronavirus
For general questions, the public can call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911 or (303) 389-1687. Providers or healthcare personnel in Denver can call the Denver Public Health Epidemiology Line at 303-602-3614, or after hours call DPH/DDPHE Duty Officer at 720-460-1706.

Updated September 14, 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, with widespread cases found internationally, including 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).

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

  • Mainly person-to-person through respiratory droplets and aerosols.
  • May also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces (and then you touch your eyes, mouth, and 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 systems, who have underlying heart problems, lung disease, diabetes and are obese (body mass index of 30 or more) may have a higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms, including pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Talk to your healthcare provider if you are concerned that you have more risk for complications related to COVID-19.

Patients who experience severe complications are at more risk of dying from COVID-19 but again this is a very small proportion).

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:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or severe lack of appetite

Symptoms in children 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.

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Share your symptoms to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado and get connected to resources to help you manage your symptoms by filling out the Colorado COVID Symptom Support survey. For more information, please see CDPHE’s COVID-19 FAQ page.

  • 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.
  • Get tested. Even if your symptoms are mild.
  • 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.

Warning signs - when to call 911:

  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Feel like you aren’t thinking as clearly as you should be

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.

Where can I go to be tested?

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.

How do I care for myself at home if I have COVID-19?

  • TALK TO YOUR PROVIDER ABOUT THE BEST WAY FOR YOU TO CARE FOR YOURSELF AT HOME OR CALL THE DENVER HEALTH NURSE LINE. We want you to recover well from COVID-19 so it’s very important to contact a healthcare provider before you feel very sick so that you can discuss your symptoms and care. Some patients have very low oxygen and don’t realize it so it’s important to call early. If you do not have a provider, you can call the Denver Health Nurse Line at 303-739-1211 to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.
  • Pay attention to your breathing and coughing. If you feel more tired, or that it’s a little harder to breathe or you are having coughing fits, call a provider or use the nurse line (see warning signs above).
  • Pay attention to how you are eating and drinking. If you aren’t eating and drinking as much as normal or you are vomiting you should call a provider or our nurse line.
  • Pay attention to whether you feel dizzy or lightheaded. If you have these symptoms then call your provider/our nurse line.

The Denver Health Nurse Line: 303-739-1211 to speak with a nurse about your symptoms. Press “2” for Spanish and press “3” for any other language.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

  • Treatment for COVID-19 is mostly supportive care with early use of oxygen therapy for patients who have low oxygen. Sometimes low oxygen can be present in patients who don’t feel well but may not yet have shortness of breath. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and you want to get your oxygen checked, you can talk to your provider or call the Denver Health nurse line at 303-739-1211.
  • The FDA approved remdesivir for emergency use for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who have low oxygen. This approval was based upon recent studies that showed that when patients received this drug, the time that they were sick was shortened by 30%. Denver Health has this medication to offer patients with COVID-19. If you are hospitalized with COVID-19, be sure to ask your provider if this medication is right for you.
  • A recent study showed that patients who are severely ill with COVID-19 may improve faster with dexamethasone. If you are hospitalized with COVID-19, ask your provider if this medication is right for you.
  • Antibiotics will not help with a viral disease such as COVID-19. The treatment is supportive care for mild symptoms. At home, this would include typical over the counter remedies for respiratory symptoms and fever.
  • Do not use non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate to treat or prevent COVID-19; it can cause serious illness, including death.

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 1 day. 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 1 day (24 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.

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:

  • Follow state public health orders, and your local public health orders, related to COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask. Colorado currently has a mandatory statewide mask order in place for all indoor public spaces, including transportation.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from people who aren’t in your household.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Childcare and School Resources and Guidance

Denver Public Health and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment are working together with school administrators and community members in Denver to ensure the health and safety of students, families, and faculty. Below you will find the link to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s guidance webpage discussing COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in schools and childcare centers. On that page there are documents which provide guidance for detecting, reporting, and responding to cases of COVID-19 as well as outbreaks of COVID-19 among students and staff in child care and schools.

Higher Education Resources and Guidance

Denver Public Health and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment are working together with school administrators and community members in Denver to ensure the health and safety of students, families and faculty. Below you will find the link to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s guidance webpage discussing COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in higher education facilities, such as universities, colleges, and technical schools. On that page there are documents which provide guidance for detecting, reporting, and responding to cases of COVID-19 as well as outbreaks of COVID-19 among students and staff within a higher education setting.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
  • Influenza (Flu) Vaccine: Throughout the U.S. more than 100,000 people got sick with the flu in 2019-2020, and more than 10,000 died. It’s important to remember that while COVID-19 is a concern right now, widespread season flu activity happens 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 for more information about the flu, including where to get vaccinated in Denver.

What about masks?

Coronavirus Disinfection

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.
  • Denver Public Health is working very closely with our partners to ensure that there are many sites in the community where you can go to be tested.

Denver Health is also working on ways to ensure if you don’t have resources to safely isolate at home or you need a health care provider that we can link you with these services. Check back for more updates on the developments of this new program.

Contact Tracing

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.