Isolation and Quarantine

Since COVID-19 is a new disease and there is more to learn about the virus, the current understanding about how it spreads is largely based on what is known about similar respiratory illnesses.

  • Person to person contact:
    • To become sick, you have to be exposed to the virus. CDC defines exposure as being within 6 feet (2 meters) of someone with a confirmed infection for a prolonged period of time.
    • Exposure can occur through respiratory droplets– when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu and other respiratory viruses spread.
  • Infected surfaces or objects:
    • It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
  • For these reasons, people at increased risk of infection are:
    • People who have been to areas where widespread community transmission is occurring.
    • People who had direct close contact with someone who was confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • Like any other virus, no identity, community, ethnic, or racial group in Colorado is more at risk for getting or spreading COVID-19.
  • Following federal guidance, state and local public health agencies are working together to evaluate Colorado travelers returning from areas where widespread community transmission is occurring, in order to determine the need for monitoring, quarantine, or other restriction of movement and activities.

Social distance by keeping 6 feet between yourself and others.

Wear a face covering. This is required by everyone in Colorado over the age of 10 in indoor settings. It is highly suggested in outdoor settings if you cannot keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and 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 using 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.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fever or chills
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Sore throat
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Additional information on symptoms can be found on the CDC website.

Follow the instructions on how to quarantine after exposure to prevent further transmission.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, OR if you have the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste, follow these instructions. These instructions are for people who have been told to isolate or who are voluntarily isolating due to symptoms.

  • A person’s residence is the preferred setting for isolation.

Isolation or self-isolation applies to people who:

  • Have a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Have symptoms of COVID-19 (see above).
  • Are getting ill and think they ​might​ have COVID-19. Symptoms, especially early on, may be mild and feel like a common cold. Symptoms could include a combination of cough, body aches, fatigue, and chest tightness. Some people may not develop fever or fever may not appear until several days into the illness.

Quarantine or self-quarantine applies to:

  • People who are close contacts of a person who either has a positive test or symptoms — even early symptoms — of illness.

Isolation

  • Separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Is for people who are already sick.
  • Is a routine procedure in hospitals and health care facilities.
  • Can be voluntary, but public health agencies have legal authority to issue isolation orders to people who are sick.

How long does it last?

  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 OR if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, including early or mild symptoms (see above), you should be in isolation (stay away from others) until:
    • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
      AND
    • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
      AND
    • At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
      • A limited number of persons with severe illness may require an extended duration of isolation up to 20 days after symptoms first appear.
    • CDC: What to do if you are sick
  • Health care workers may have to isolate for longer and should do what they are told by the health care facility they work for.

What else should I do?

Stay home, except to get medical care.

  • Call your doctor: if your think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing,
  • If you have a medical appointment, call ahead and let them know you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms, so the office can tell you what to do.
    • Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
    • Avoid using public transportation, rideshares, or taxis.

Monitor your symptoms

  • People with mild illness may be able to isolate and recover at home without seeing a medical provider. If your symptoms worsen (e.g., difficulty breathing) or if you are in a higher risk group because you are older than 60 or have a chronic illness get sick, call a health care provider or nurse line to find out what to do. Some telehealth and nurseline options are available here: ​covid19.colorado.gov/telehealth-and-nurselines.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.

  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from others in your home.
  • Use a separate bathroom if available.
  • Have another member of your household care for your pets. If you must care for your pet, wash your hands before and after contact with them.Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, we recommend that people with symptoms limit contact with animals until more information is known.

If possible, wear a facemask when you are around other people or pets, and before you enter a health care provider’s office.

  • If you are not able to wear a facemask, then people who live with you should not be in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room.

If you are not sick, but think you may have been exposed (in close contact with someone) who is sick, follow these instructions. These instructions are for people who have been told to quarantine, or who are voluntarily quarantining because they have a household member or close contact that has tested positive for COVID-19 or is exhibiting symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Please note testing immediately after exposure isn’t helpful because it may be too early in the incubation period, and there isn’t enough viral material for the test to detect.

Quarantine

  • Separates people and restricts their movement if they were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
  • Is for people who are not sick, but who may have been exposed to someone or in close contact with someone (within six feet of for 10 minutes or more) who is sick.

How long does it last?

  • Stay at home or stay put in your same location for 14 days so you don’t spread the disease to healthy people. If you get sick, begin following the isolation directions listed above.

What else should I do?

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.
  • If you get sick and your illness is mild, you may be able to isolate and recover at home without seeing a medical provider. If your symptoms worsen or if you are in a higher risk group because you are older than 60 or have a chronic illness, call a health care provider or nurse line to find out what to do.

Quarantine

For everyone who has been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, a 14-day quarantine remains the gold standard. All contacts, regardless of quarantine duration, should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 daily throughout the 14-day incubation period following exposure.

Click here for quarantine instructions.

The following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives:

  • For contacts who have monitored themselves daily and have not had any symptoms of COVID-19, quarantine
    can end after 10 days. In this instance, individuals meeting these criteria could resume their usual activities
    beginning on day 11 after exposure. They should continue to monitor themselves daily for symptoms for the full
    14 days following exposure.
  • For contacts who have monitored themselves daily for symptoms, have not had any symptoms of COVID-19, and have tested negative on a molecular or antigen test* collected within 48 hours before quarantine is discontinued, quarantine can end after 7 days. In this instance, individuals meeting these criteria could resume their usual activities beginning on day 8 after exposure. They should continue to monitor themselves daily for symptoms for the full 14 days.
  • In no circumstances can quarantine be discontinued before 7 full days of quarantine have passed since exposure. Regardless of whether someone is released from quarantine early, if they develop any symptoms of COVID-19 illness in the 14 days following their exposure, they must isolate immediately and notify public health.

Isolation

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, OR if you develop symptoms, follow these instructions. These instructions are for people who have been told to isolate or who are voluntarily isolating due to symptoms.

Yes, if you develop COVID-19 symptoms after getting the vaccine should you quarantine. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and gets sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. If you have COVID-19 virus symptoms after getting the vaccine or at any time, you should contact your health care provider and get tested for COVID-19.

What about an exposure between doses, do you need to quarantine?
Yes. Standard quarantine as advised by state and local health officials.