We are getting many questions from our community around COVID-19. Frequently asked questions are included below and these are updated frequently. If you have a question that is not listed, please complete this form. Someone from the Larimer County Department of Health & Environment will respond as soon as possible. If you are feeling sick or have medical questions, please call your healthcare provider.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the new coronavirus strain.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These viruses spread through coughing or sneezing, much like the flu. Some coronaviruses are common and regularly cause illness in the U.S. in the fall and winter. Other coronaviruses, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused outbreaks internationally and have been known to cause severe illness. 

Self-observation means people should remain alert for subjective fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. If they feel feverish or develop cough or difficulty breathing during the self-observation period, they should take their temperature, self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether a medical evaluation is needed.

Self-monitoring means people should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperatures twice a day and remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing. If they feel feverish or develop measured fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether a medical evaluation is needed.

Active monitoring means that the state or local public health authority assumes responsibility for establishing regular communication with potentially exposed people to assess for the presence of fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. For people with high-risk exposures, CDC recommends this communication occurs at least once each day. The mode of communication can be determined by the state or local public health authority and may include telephone calls or any electronic or internet-based means of communication.

Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case

Public health orders are legally enforceable directives issued under the authority of a relevant federal, state, or local entity that, when applied to a person or group, may place restrictions on the activities undertaken by that person or group, potentially including movement restrictions or a requirement for monitoring by a public health authority, for the purposes of protecting the public’s health. Federal, state, or local public health orders may be issued to enforce isolation and/or quarantine.

Isolation means the separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent the spread of the communicable disease. Isolation for public health purposes may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health order.

Quarantine in general means the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease.

Congregate settings are crowded public places where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums.

Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.

How did the COVID-19 outbreak begin?

On December 31, 2019, Chinese health officials alerted the World Health Organization of several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The pneumonia was caused by a virus that did not match any other known virus. This raised concerns because when a virus is new, public health officials do not know how it affects people.

One week later, on January 7, 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus is a type of coronavirus. It is from the same family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

Since then, cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been identified in several countries. For the most current information on global and national cases, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites. For up to date maps of the outbreak from Johns Hopkins University, click here.

How common is COVID-19 in Colorado?

There are presumed positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. There is currently one presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Larimer County (3/9/20, 1:22pm)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is committed to protecting the health and safety of Coloradans. They will continue to investigate and test possible cases and provide timely updates on any confirmed positive cases.

Case information will be updated weekly on Wednesdays on CDPHE’s webpage. 


CDPHE will update the web page with other information for the public as often as necessary and will communicate via media releases and social media as appropriate.

How is COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is able to spread from person-to-person and is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets produced when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory viruses spread.

Who is at risk of getting COVID-19?

It’s important to understand that risk is based on exposure. At this time, people at higher risk are:

People who have traveled to China or another country with high rates of infection within the last two weeks and have symptoms.

People who had direct close contact with someone who was confirmed to have the novel coronavirus. And like any other virus, no identity, community, ethnic, or racial group is more at risk for getting or spreading COVID-19.

There are people of Chinese or Asian descent in my work/school/church/community - are they at higher risk for getting COVID-19?

No, they are not at higher risk for getting COVID-19.  Like any other virus, no identity, community, ethnic, or racial group is more at risk for getting or spreading COVID-19. At this time, risk is based on recent travel to China and close contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19. 

What can I do to protect myself and my family from COVID-19?

People who are worried about this, or any respiratory virus, like the flu, can protect themselves by practicing everyday actions:

  • Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Getting a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one this year.

Do I need a facemask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time. 

Should I cancel my travel plans?

At this time, CDC has activated several travel warnings for international destinations that are experiencing community spread of COVID-19. 

Please visit CDC website for all global travel advisories. 

What should seniors, older adults, and those with underlying health conditions be doing? 

Those who are older or who have underlying health conditions are at higher risk to develop complications from COVID-19, however, the risk for all Coloradans remains low. We have plans ready to go to minimize the risk of transmission to high-risk individuals. We've set up a page on this website to provide specific information for seniors and those with underlying health conditions that we will update frequently.

Can packages or products shipped from China or other areas with COVID-19 be contaminated with the virus?

There is likely a very low risk of spreading the virus from products or packages that are shipped over days and weeks. Coronaviruses are generally spread through respiratory droplets and don’t survive well on surfaces. There is still a lot unknown about how the virus spreads, but there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 through imported goods or shipped packages. 

Can I get COVID-19 again if I had it once?

It is too early to know for sure. Other types of coronaviruses have been known to make someone who catches them sick again if they get it a second time but we don't yet know what the long-term immunity will be for this new coronavirus.

What is the State of Colorado doing to prepare for COVID-19?

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is prepared. The department and its partners are committed to protecting the health and safety of Coloradans, ensuring their response is proactive, strong and collaborative. Their response includes:

  • Providing information about the outbreak and how to report suspect cases to local health departments and health care providers in Colorado.
  • Coordinating with local public health agencies to determine the need for monitoring, quarantine, or other restriction of movement and activities for travelers.
  • Assuring that health care providers know how to safely manage persons with possible COVID-19 infection.
  • Supporting healthcare providers and local public health with testing.
  • Actively monitoring the situation and refining response plans. 

Will Denver International Airport (DIA) screen travelers returning from international flights?

The Department of Homeland Security and CDC has issued orders directing all flights from China and all passengers who have traveled to China within the last 14 days to be routed through several U.S. airports for enhanced health screenings. DIA is not one of those airports.

Visit the Department of Homeland's Security Webpage

Are people who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to COVID-19 being isolated or quarantined?

State and local public health are working together, following federal guidance, to assess Colorado those who have been exposed to COVID-19 to determine the need for monitoring, quarantine, or other restriction of movement and activities.

How is the county supporting our seniors and reaching out to them with information?

We are providing guidance to our long-term care facilities regarding visitors, isolation, testing, etc. We're working with our local organizations that provide services/programs for seniors. We've talked with many seniors over the phone who want info to share with their friends.

Testing information - If you think you might have COVID-19 and feel you need testing, please contact your primary care provider. They will screen patients and if a test is recommended, order testing at a testing location. If you believe you have a COVID-19 related illness, please call ahead before visiting a provider location. The Health Department does not conduct testing for COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Less common symptoms include headache and stomach upset. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. 

How long does it take to develop symptoms after being exposed to COVID-19?

2-14 days

How would someone necessarily know if they were in contact with an infected person?

Public health has protocols in place to investigate any reportable infectious disease once a case has been identified. Public health staff would determine who might have been exposed through close contact. If known exposures occurred, those exposed would be notified and followed-up with. We work closely with healthcare providers and other local agencies to ensure that any further spread of an infectious disease is minimized. 

I think I have been exposed to COVID-19 -- what should I do?

If you have been exposed to someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 or you were in a country with a COVID-19 outbreak in the past 2 weeks and you develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away. Call ahead before going to see a doctor or emergency room. Tell them your symptoms and that you suspect you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 or recently traveled.

If a person is symptomatic, can they be tested if they want to?

The Health Department does not conduct testing for COVID-19. Healthcare providers in Larimer County make the determination about whether or not an individual should be tested. If you believe you may need to be tested, call your healthcare provider. Tests being run are taking 5 or more days to receive results at this time.

How is COVID-19 treated?

There is no specific treatment for illness caused by COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. Many people will be able to recover on their own.

Will they be required to provide payment before being tested for the test?

Testing costs are zero whether a person has insurance or not.

What is the retail cost of testing? What about a doctor or an emergency room visit?

We are unsure of other costs at this time.

What is the daily testing capacity of Larimer County, and are there transportation options for those without cars to get to a center where they can be tested?

Our department is not doing the testing. Each day testing has been expanding to more locations in Colorado and Larimer County.  Ensuring testing is accessible to anyone who needs it is an ongoing priority, although it requires some coordination with partners that we're working on.

Many hospitals and medical facilities have notices saying not to go to their facilities if you suspect that you may have COVID-19. If you have serious trouble breathing, what should a patient suppose to do?

The guidance is and has been to call the provider ahead of time. A person should always call 911 or go to an ER if they have are having an emergency, such as difficulty breathing.

What is the total open capacity of hospital beds in Larimer county? Approximately how many additional patients can our hospitals handle?

We have emergency repsonse plans in place for local epidemics, which includes planning for mass hospitalizations. This includes working with regional hospitals to ensure beds would be available.

How many people will have to test positive in Larimer county before schools are closed? Are students currently tested for fever at school?

We're working together with schools on this. Our dept and our Office of Emergency Management are currently finalizing our guidance around the triggers that would lead us to recommend or require any local closures of any local agency.

What contingency plans are in place for people who have high deductibles and may be unable to work? Who should they contact?

We understand that this information will be coming through guidance from the Governor's office, but that there will be plans to ensure being off work will not cause undue hardships to any person in Colorado.

If you feel sick and, responsibly, stay home because you have symptoms similar to coronavirus but don't know one of the people that have had the test & been positive or traveled... how long should you wait after feeling well to go back to work, shopping, etc.?

It is always recommended for people to stay home when sick and avoid other people until there is no fever and coughing and sneezing have ceased. At this time, recommendations for isolation vary depending on a person's risk factors, such as travel to endemic areas.

For our high-altitude residents, what plans are in place for quarantines at lower elevation are in place?

We will do everything we can to make sure that anyone who needs quarantine (i.e., homeless, elderly, immunocompromised) will have a safe and adequate location to do so.