Updated May 17, 2021. 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.
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine at Denver Health
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado
- COVID-19 vaccine frequently asked questions
- COVID-19 vaccine call center 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926)
- CDC COVID-19 vaccine information
COVID-19 Case Data
Monitoring COVID-19 in Denver
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?
- 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:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of these symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Diarrhea abdominal pain or discomfort
- Congestion or runny nose
- 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?
Report 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 symptoms, it is recommended that you stay home from work or school, avoid close contact with others, avoid going out in public, and monitor your symptoms.
- Get tested. Even if your symptoms are mild.
- If your symptoms worsen, please call your 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 you can 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?
- Learn more about COVID-19 testing in Denver, including community testing, drive-up testing and mobile testing.
- Learn about expanded testing for communities most adversely impacted by COVID-19 in Denver.
- COVID Check Colorado has free testing sites throughout the state, including several in the Denver Metro area.
- Free testing is also available at the Aurora Center for Active Adults.
- Learn more about COVID-19 testing in Colorado.
- Denver Health is providing students free COVID-19 testing. Denver Health's School-based Health Centers and Denver Public Schools (DPS) announced that students throughout the entire district have access to free COVID-19 tests at any of our four testing sites. The move is the latest effort by DPS and Denver Public Health to keep staff, students and families safe. Free COVID-19 testing will be provided to symptomatic students who have been screened and recommended for a test. The same-day testing will be available by appointment Monday through Saturday. Results come back within 24 hours. Denver Health’s four testing sites are located at Peña Southwest Family Health Center, Lowry Family Health Center, Montbello Family Health Center and the Rita Bass Trauma and EMS Education Institute.
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 decisions 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 medical provider, you may 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 you notice 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: Call 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 healthcare 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 members of 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.
COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Tracking who has received the vaccine helps us to understand the scale of protection against the virus and how this is distributed across Denver. There are currently three types of vaccine approved through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for protection against COVID-19: Pfizer, Moderna, and recently approved, Johnson & Johnson. Additional information on COVID-19 vaccinations and the current Colorado vaccination phase can be found on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment vaccine page.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is the only one currently approved in the United States that requires only one dose to provide maximum protection. Pfizer and Moderna each require two doses for maximum protection, given at specific intervals after the first dose. For Pfizer, that interval is 21 days, for Moderna, 28 days. It is not advisable to obtain your second dose earlier than recommended.
It's important if you get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines that you receive both doses - administered as close as possible to the recommended interval as possible. If, for any reason, this is not feasible, the second dose may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. For the latter two vaccines, we monitor the number of individuals who have received only their first, initial dose as well as those who have completed the series (received both vaccine doses).
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine at Denver Health
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado
- COVID-19 Vaccine frequently asked questions
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched a call center for the public to ask questions specifically about the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine call center is open 24/7/365. The toll-free number is 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).
- For the most up-to-date information about each vaccine, visit CDC’s Different COVID-19 Vaccines.
- 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 receive 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.
Quarantine Recommendations after COVID-19 Vaccination
Denver Public Health along with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommend that for most individuals, quarantine is not necessary once a person has received both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and two weeks have passed after the second dose. However, exposed individuals who have been fully vaccinated per the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice schedule should continue to watch for symptoms in the 14 days after exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. If a vaccinated individual tests positive for COVID-19, they are still required to isolate; neither vaccine would cause a person to test positive on a molecular or antigen test. A positive molecular or antigen test means that the person is currently infected with SARS-CoV-2 and might be able to transmit the infection to others. For more information regarding quarantine guidance after vaccination:
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 vaccine web page
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 vaccine hotline: 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926)
What about masks?
- To further help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Coloradans who are 3 years and older are currently required to wear a cloth, non-medical mask over their noses and mouths when entering or moving within any public indoor space or using/waiting to use public (buses, light-rail) or non-personal (taxis, car services, ride-shares) transportation services. Face coverings should be provided by childcare facilities for all children over the age of 3; however, during naps they should be removed, and the nap mats should be placed six feet apart.
- All individuals must wear a mask or face covering in outdoor public spaces when they are unable to practice social distancing from others (excluding immediate family, caretakers and members of the same household). For a further breakdown of specific public space outdoor mask mandates view the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment’s Mask Amendment.
- In support of the above, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in all public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
- 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.
New COVID-19 International Travel Requirements
As of January 12, 2021 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an international air travel order stating all air passengers 2 years of age or older traveling into the US, including US citizens and legal permanent residents, are required to get tested for COVID-19 or show proof of a recent positive viral test within the last 90 days AND official documentation that you are cleared to travel. This order will went into effect on January 26, 2021.
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 or receive a COVID-19 vaccine, often at no cost.