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 to telehealth 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 at least 15 minutes at one time or a total time of 15 minutes over several hours; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, working with, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a someone who has COVID-19.

Contact tracing is the process of public health identifying close contacts of a case of a communicable disease, including COVID-19, to identify any additional cases as early as possible to reduce additional exposures to an illness. Public health routinely conducts contact tracing for many communicable diseases including HIV, varicella (chickenpox), measles, and other illnesses.

Public health orders are legally enforceable directives that may be applied to a person or group to restrict the activities undertaken by that person or group, potentially including movement restrictions or a requirement for monitoring by a public health authority, in order to protect the public’s health. These orders are issued under the authority of a relevant federal, state, or local entity. 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 believed to have a communicable disease and who are potentially infectious from those who do not have the disease 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 who do not yet have symptoms, from others who have not been 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/physical 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 many countries across the globe. 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 cases of COVID-19 in Larimer County and in Colorado. It is hard to know exactly how many people may have had COVID-19 early on because testing was so limited when this virus first arrived in the United States. Testing is now widely available, making our current case counts much more accurate. Visit our data dashboard for the most current information on positive cases in Larimer County.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provides data on COVID-19 cases across the state. Statewide data is available on their website here.

How is COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is able to spread from person-to-person and is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets produced when someone who has the virus coughs. sneezes, talks, or sings, similar to how influenza and other respiratory viruses spread. Someone can unknowingly spread the virus before they start to have symptoms.

Who is at risk of having a severe illness with COVID-19?

It’s important to understand that risk is based on exposure. At this time, people at higher risk of having a severe illness with COVID-19 are:

Those who are at higher risk: Those who may be at an increased risk:
  • Those who are over age 65
  • Those who have chronic kidney disease
  • Those who have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Those who are immunocompromised (weakened immune system) from a solid organ transplant
  • Those who have obesity (body mass [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Those with serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Those who have Sickle cell disease
  • Those with Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Those with moderate to severe asthma
  • Those with cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Those with cystic fibrosis
  • Those with hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Those with an immunocompromised (weakened immune system) state from blood or bone marrow transplant, Immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Those with neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Those with liver disease
  • Those who are pregnant
  • Those who have pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Those who smoke
  • Those who have thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Those who have Type 1 diabetes mellitus

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

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

  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, chills, dry cough, shortness of breath, new or sudden loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue)
  • Stay home except to do essential activities (like go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or work), particularly if you are not feeling well.
  • Wear a cloth face covering when around others and when visiting public indoor spaces.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others who are not part of your household.
  • Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub frequently.
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Get a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one this year.

Do I need a facemask?

Facemasks are required in any public indoor space for everyone who is age 11 and older.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time, but there is a large national effort to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. 

Should I cancel my travel plans?

We encourage everyone to carefully consider their plans for travel to ensure that travel is as safe as possible. For more information about what to consider or plan on while traveling at this time, visit the CDC website about travel.

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 of having severe complications from COVID-19. More information about how we can protect those at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 can be found here.

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

There is 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 the theory that COVID-19 could be spread 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 difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This table​ compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.

To learn more about COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19).

To learn more about flu, visit Influenza (Flu).

Will there be flu along with COVID-19 in the fall and winter?

While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.

Can I have flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes. It is possible have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be.

Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 more dangerous than flu?

Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illness, including illness resulting in hospitalization or death. While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, at this time, it does seem as if COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza; however, it is too early to draw any conclusions from the current data. This may change as we learn more about the number of people who are infected who have mild illnesses.

Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however, flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.

Does a flu vaccination increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccination increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.

What flu vaccines are recommended this season?

For the 2020-2021 flu season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine with no preference for any one vaccine over another.

Vaccine options this season include:

Who should get their flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Do we need to get a flu vaccine earlier this year?

There is no change in CDC’s recommendation on the timing of vaccination this flu season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue, even in January or later.

If coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is spreading in my community, should I still go out to get a flu vaccine?

Yes. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health, your family’s health, and our community's health this season. To protect your health when getting a flu vaccine, follow CDC’s recommendations for running essential errands and doctor visits. Continue to take everyday preventive actions.

Are there special precautions my doctor, pharmacist, or health department should take this flu season to make sure flu vaccines can be given safely during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. CDC has resources to help with vaccine planning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or health department if they are following CDC’s vaccination pandemic guidance.  And protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions.

I don’t have a primary care provider, where can I get a flu vaccine?

If you don’t have a doctor that you regularly see, flu vaccines are also available at locations including the health department and pharmacies. You can use VaccineFinder.org to find where flu vaccines are available near you.

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

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Larimer County Department of Public Health and Environment are prepared. These public health agencies and our partners are committed to protecting the health and safety of Coloradans, ensuring our response is proactive, strong, and collaborative. Our response includes:

  • Providing information and recommendations about the outbreak.
  • 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 people who have or may have COVID-19.
  • Supporting healthcare providers and local public health with testing.
  • Actively monitoring the situation and refining response plans. 

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 those who have been exposed to COVID-19 to determine the need for monitoring and/or quarantine. 

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

We are providing guidance to our long-term care facilities, retirement communities, and nursing homes 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.

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

We have emergency response plans in place for local epidemics, which includes planning for mass hospitalizations. This includes working with regional hospitals to ensure beds are available when they are needed. For up to date information on our local hospital capacity, please visit our COVID-19 data dashboard.

Do you need volunteers?

We do not need volunteers at this time but healthcare providers can sign up to be notified about volunteer opportunities here.