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Isolation-For those who are diagnosed with COVID-19

Isolation: separating an individual who has symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 from people who are not sick. Separating them from others prevents healthy individuals from being exposed and becoming sick as well.

  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, isolate away from others for 10 days from the date you started to have symptoms until symptoms improve, and at least 24 hours fever-free without using fever-reducing medicines (such as Ibuprofen), returning to other activities on the 11th day. If you do not have symptoms, isolate for 10 days from the date you were tested, returning to other activities on the 11th day

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by public health and given official isolation orders. These orders can be legally enforced if necessary to protect the public's health.

Once you meet the criteria to leave isolation, you are safe to be around others again. Testing is not required or recommended to leave isolation because it is possible to test positive for up to 90 days after recovering, even though you are no longer able to spread the virus to others.

Quarantine-For those who have been exposed to COVID-19

For more information about quarantining, see How To Quarantine page by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

Quarantine: prevents the ongoing spread of the virus to other people by individuals who know they have been exposed or are likely to have been exposed, but do not yet know if they have been infected. It’s a precaution and an effective tool to prevent viral spread since people infected with COVID-19 can be contagious even without having symptoms.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, quarantine away from others and monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Any person who is a close contact of someone with COVID-19 must quarantine. The CDC and State of Colorado currently recommend a quarantine period of 14 days after the date of last exposure to someone with COVID-19. A 14-day quarantine is the gold standard and poses the least risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.

The CDC accepts two alternative options for quarantine. 

  • 7-day option: if no symptoms, a person may quarantine for 7 days and return to normal activities on day 8 if a negative test performed by a CLIA-certified provider was collected within the previous 48 hours (on day 5 or later).
  • 10-day option: if it's been 10 days since a person was exposed and they do not have symptoms, they can return to normal activities on day 11 without a test.

Please note: At-home COVID-19 tests cannot be used to shorten quarantine. Tests to shorten quarantine must be done with a CLIA-certified provider such as a healthcare clinic, urgent care, or community testing site. Please see our COVID-19 testing page for more information about local testing options.

For the shorter quarantine options, continued symptom monitoring and precautions like mask-wearing must be done for the full 14 days. There is still a percentage of people who will go on to spread COVID-19 to others. Those who live or work in congregate settings (assisted living, corrections, PEH shelters, etc.) or have regular contact with high-risk individuals must adhere to the full 14-day quarantine. If at any point you develop COVID-19 symptoms after being exposed, follow the isolation guidance and it is recommended that you be tested for COVID-19.

Close contacts may be contacted by public health, quarantined, and given official quarantine orders. These orders can be legally enforced if necessary to protect the public's health. Quarantine orders include the date someone was exposed as well as the date that someone may leave quarantine after an exposure. If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, you may receive a quarantine order via email, via a phone call from our office, via regular mail, or other methods. To verify that the letter you received is valid, please text us anytime at 970-999-1770 or call us Monday-Friday 9:00 -4:30 at 970-498-5500.

Who does not need to quarantine

Quarantine may be required in some settings and circumstances no matter what but there are some criteria that may not require someone to quarantine after exposure to someone who has COVID-19. In some circumstances quarantine may not be required if:

  • You are fully vaccinated which means that it has been 14 days since you received a single dose of Janssen (J&J) or a second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. If you have been given a quarantine order and you are fully vaccinated, please complete the form linked on your order.
  • You have tested positive with a CLIA-certified provider (such as a health clinic, urgent care, or community testing site) in the past 90 days. A positive at-home test does not meet this criteria.

CDC recommends that individuals who are fully vaccinated who have come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

Frequently Asked Questions

It can be hard to tell if symptoms are from COVID-19 vs. from other respiratory diseases like the flu or a cold. Generally, if someone has at least two minor symptoms like a fever, chills, muscle aches, or headache, or have one major symptom like a cough, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell and we know they came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, we would consider that a probable COVID-19 infection and ask you to isolate. 

We recommend that anyone who has COVID-like symptoms, get tested. Many local healthcare providers can test if someone has symptoms and there are many community testing sites available for those who do not have a healthcare provider locally.

We strongly recommend that anyone who was exposed to COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days after they were exposed. If they do not have symptoms of COVID-19, the quarantine period may end after the 10th day after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. Most childcare centers and schools in Larimer County are not allowing the alternative quarantine 7-day option for students or staff, as this option carries the highest risk.

Every individual will be quarantined for different lengths of times based on the last day they were in contact with someone who has COVID-19. Different end dates mean they were last in contact with someone who has COVID-19 on different days. Quarantine may also end sooner than 14 days if certain criteria are met.

The quarantine period starts on the last date someone is exposed to someone who is infectious with COVID. When someone lives with someone who is infectious with COVID, they may be continuously exposed until the person with COVID is no longer infectious (their last day of isolation) if they are not able to completely isolate away from the person who is sick.

 In these situations, someone will need to quarantine until the person they live with finishes isolation and then for an additional 14 days.

Wearing a mask significantly lowers the risk, but similar to wearing a helmet while playing football or wearing a seatbelt in a car, they do not eliminate risk entirely. Therefore we cannot consider them to be fully protective. Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing, masking alone is not sufficient protection - only when combined with social distancing (where possible) would someone not be considered a close contact.

Yes. Masks lower, but don't completely prevent, transmission. Cloth face coverings and surgical masks are designed to protect others from the person wearing it. Evidence is starting to emerge that the mask may protect the person wearing it from others, but more research is needed. Face coverings are not a substitute for maintaining distance and masks shouldn't be used alone. 

Larimer County has partnered with the Health District to provide shelter, transportation, meals, and other needs for those who don’t have a safe place to stay during this time. To arrange a stay, call 970-817-3516.

When the health department issues quarantine letters, the address where the person will quarantine is included. To request a change of location for the quarantine period, please complete this form. If a request is approved, a new quarantine letter with the new quarantine address will be issued. 

During the quarantine period it’s okay to do some outdoor activities like taking a walk as long as you can distance from others.

We do not recommend using drive-thru services as you would still have contact with the person at the window. To the greatest extent possible, we recommend having groceries and meals delivered.

Visiting local parks depends on the park and your ability to maintain distance from others while you are there. We recommend not touching any of the park equipment or benches. If you have a less busy place to get outdoors like a yard or a street/sidewalk with low traffic, we recommend using those options.

Do not visit busy hiking or walking trails. Stick to places near your home to get your outside time in so that you can make sure you are distanced from others.

Camping is not allowed while on quarantine as there are too many factors that could put others at risk.

We strongly encourage using a grocery delivery service if that's available in your area or having a family member, friend, or neighbor drop food off at your door if you know someone who would be willing to do that for you.

If you need assistance getting groceries or there isn't a delivery service available to you, Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains can provide assistance: 719-270-1464

Colorado 211 is also a helpful resource

  • Call 211
  • 211Colorado.org
  • Text your ZIP code to 898-211
  • Call toll-free 866-760-6489

No. Only the person whose name is on the order is required to quarantine. If the person in quarantine were to test positive, the other household members might then need to quarantine. It's important for the person with the quarantine order to remain separated from other household members to the greatest extent possible. 


The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been partially extended into 2021. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act states that employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of fully paid sick leave if they are absent due to COVID-19 related reasons. An additional 10 weeks of leave may be granted at 75% of usual pay. Additionally, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, or the expanded FMLA, gives employees up to 12 weeks of leave in addition to the regular FMLA time, if you meet the eligibility requirements. This pay is tax refundable to your employer through March 31, 2021. If you have further questions, calling the people in charge of the payroll at your employer is the best way to go. If the situation covered by this Act doesn’t apply to you, you can also try calling the Colorado Unemployment Office. They have a call center for pandemic related assistance that is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. The number is: 303-536-5615.

If you are a CSU student, RamAid offers financial assistance of up to $1,000 to students who need help paying for things like food, rent, and medicine. If you can’t get paid time off, this might be a good option for you. You can apply through the Office of Financial Aid.  They can be reached by email: financialaid@colostate.edu or phone: 970-491-6321/

  • Neighbor to Neighbor - www.n2n.org (Loveland/Berthoud only- go through Neighbor to Neighbor 1st)
    • Ft Collins: 970-484-7498
    • Loveland: 970-663-4163
  • Salvation Army  970-699-8380
  • Matthews House  970-472-4293
  • Murphy Center    970-494-9940
  • St Vincent DePaul  970-635-5809 

Our goal is to protect you, your friends, and family, and our community. The health department does have the authority to enforce it and penalties can include fines and possible jail time for violating the order. We understand that staying at home or not going to work is a difficult ask, it protects our community by preventing the spread of illness.

You do not need to be retested to leave isolation and return to school or work after having COVID-19. As long as you meet the criteria listed below you may leave isolation:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms started OR 10 days from a positive test if you have no symptoms
  • Symptoms are improving
  • Fever-free for 24-hours without using fever-reducing medicines (such as Ibuprofen)

Some symptoms may linger for a few days or weeks. So long as your symptoms are improving and you meet the other criteria, you may leave isolation.

It is possible to test positive for COVID-19 for up to 90 days after recovering, even though that person is no longer able to spread the virus to others. Therefore, testing is not recommended or needed to allow someone to return to work or school after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Being sick with or exposed to COVID may cause many different and strong emotions that may feel hard to manage on your own. There are many resources available to help. Click here for more information and for local resources that are available.