Guidance for People with Symptoms

Anyone with symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing) should call their healthcare provider for guidance and separate themselves from others. Do NOT go to the emergency room unless medically necessary in order to ensure hospital resources are available for those with the most critical needs.


COVID-19 symptoms may include: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Recent loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

*This list is not all-inclusive. For the most current list of symptoms visit the CDC. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.


Any of the above symptoms that are manageable without medical care. 

Make sure to isolate yourself.
If you are an older adult, or you have certain underlying medical conditions, you may want to check in with a health care provider to be prepared in case of worsening symptoms. 

Consider a nurseline or telehealth


Symptoms for which you need medical care, but it isn’t an emergency.

Continue to isolate yourself.

Consider a telehealth or nurseline.


  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion 
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Call 911 and tell the dispatcher your symptoms.

If you go to a hospital without calling 911, call the hospital ahead of time and tell them your symptoms. 

Definition of Household

  • For single-family houses, apartments, or other similar housing, a household consists of the members of that house/unit. (Note that some units are subject to occupancy limits under local or state laws.)
  • For dormitories or other congregate housing (e.g. sororities and fraternities), a household consists of the person who lives in the room and any person with whom they share a room in which they both sleep (i.e. roommate.)
    • A dormitory, sorority, or fraternity, therefore, may consist of manyseparate households.
    • In these situations, residents should wear masks when in common areas with members of other households.


What is quarantining?

  • Quarantining 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.

  • Quarantining can be voluntary, and people should self-quarantine if they have a known exposure and do not know whether they have been infected.  Colorado also has the legal authority to issue quarantine orders to people who were exposed to a contagious disease. This will not occur in most cases and is reserved for circumstances where it is difficult for people to voluntarily quarantine.

How long should quarantining last?

  • If you have recently completed your primary vaccination series (<6 months after the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna or <2 months after Johnson and Johnson) or have received a booster dose you do not need to quarantine (stay home) but should wear a mask around others for 10 days and get tested 5 days after exposure or immediately if symptoms develop.
  • If you completed your primary vaccine and are eligible for a booster dose but have not yet received it or are unvaccinated you should quarantine (stay home) for 5 days after exposure and continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.  If you cannot quarantine you must wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.  Get tested on day 5 or immediately if symptoms develop.
For 14 days after exposure, regardless of your quarantine length, you should:
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and get tested.
  • Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash your hands, avoid crowds, and take other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Avoid contact with high risk individuals.

What else should I do if I am in quarantine?

Stay home, or in your same location, except to get medical care.

  • If you have a medical appointment, call ahead and let them know you are under quarantine (either by order or self-imposed) for COVID-19, so the office can take steps to protect other people. Otherwise:

    • Restrict activities outside your home.

    • Do not go to work, school, or public areas.

    • Avoid using public transportation, rideshares, or taxis.

Practice actions that protect others.

  • Clean your hands often.

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. When using hand sanitizer, cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away. If a tissue is not available, use your inner elbow or sleeve.

    • Immediately clean your hands (see above).

  • Avoid sharing personal household items.

    • Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home.

    • After you use these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

  • Clean surfaces every day.

    • Clean “high touch” surfaces like counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. 

    • Clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.

    • Use a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Follow the label directions for correct and safe use of the cleaning product.


Return to Work or School Notice

  • Your employer or school may request that the Health Department “clear” you for return to work or school. PDPHE does not issue return to work or school letters. Once you have met the following criteria, it is appropriate for you to return to work or school.
    • You are free of symptoms (listed above) AND it has been 14 days since you last had contact with the sick person per the quarantine end date listed above.