General questions and answers

Updated September 28, 2020

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About COVID-19

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Not all coronaviruses are COVID-19.
  • A novel (or new) coronavirus is a strain of virus that has not been previously identified in humans.
  • COVID-19 is a type of novel coronavirus that is spreading from person to person in many countries and states, including Colorado.

  • COVID-19 spreads from person to person and is thought to be transmitted mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory viruses spread.
  • It may be possible that a person can 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, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

  • Symptoms, especially early on, may be mild and feel like a common cold. Early symptoms could include a combination of cough, body aches, fatigue, and chest tightness. A fever may not appear until several days into the illness, and some people may never develop a fever throughout the duration of the illness. People who have symptoms should get tested and self-isolate.
  • More advanced symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, or breathing difficulties, and more. These people also should get tested, self-isolate, and contact a medical provider as necessary. 
  • In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death. 

It depends on the severity of the illness.

2-14 days.

  • Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and sometimes death.
  • According to the World Health Organization, about 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild.
  • Anyone can experience severe illness from this disease, but there are a number of groups at higher risk of severe illness, including: 
    • People who are 65 and older.
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
    • People who have serious heart conditions.
    • People who have weakened immune systems.
    • People determined to be at high risk by a licensed health care provider.

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but vaccine research is underway.
  • There is no specific, evidence-based treatment for COVID-19 at this time, but there are studies involving promising treatments, such as the antiviral medication Remdesivir. 
  • 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.
  • Scientists are reporting progress with clinical trials of an antiviral medication called Remdesivir, but trials are still in progress to find out whether this is a suitable and effective treatment.

At this time, it is safe to assume that everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19. That is why it is so important to keep up with and follow state and local public health orders.

  • Generally speaking, food is not contaminated with coronaviruses, and cooking would kill any virus in the food.
  • According to the American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Federation, normal chlorination treatment should be sufficient to kill the virus in drinking water systems. Their conclusion is based on studies of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

There is still a lot to learn about COVID-19, and we can’t be sure how long this virus stays in the air. We advise taking a cautious approach to prevent spread.

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 no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through imported goods or shipped packages.

Normal swimming pool disinfection techniques are thought to be effective against COVID-19. 

  • For COVID-19, close contact includes:
  • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19.
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19.
  • Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19, although just passing by a person for a few seconds should not cause you to be overly concerned.
  • Being in direct contact with fluids from a sick person with COVID-19. This includes being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.

Community spread (or transmission) means there are cases and outbreaks in many communities where people are spreading the virus to other people.

We are still learning about the virus, but we believe that the majority of spread is through symptomatic cases, but presymptomatic and asymptomatic spread may also occur. For that reason, it is critical for people to follow physical distancing recommendations, wear cloth face coverings, and wash their hands.

No. Like any other virus, no identity, community, ethnic, or racial group is more at risk for getting or spreading COVID-19. 

The name of this disease is Coronavirus Disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.”

On Dec. 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.

Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting initial animal-to-person spread. Now, person-to-person spread is occurring.

Businesses and employment

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does not have, and cannot provide, you with a letter clearing you to go back to work. If you had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should isolate yourself for 10 days after symptoms started, and continue isolating yourself until you are fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medications) for 3 days. Public health is not requiring people to have a negative test to return to work. If your employer is requiring this, you may want to contact your doctor, or another health care provider, or direct your employer to this Q and A.

It depends on who advised you to quarantine. If public health instructed you to quarantine, get documentation from that specific public health agency (such as Tri-County, Denver Public Health, etc.). If a health care provider instructed you to quarantine, contact that provider to get the documentation.

As we are a separate entity from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, we cannot offer direct assistance on filing for unemployment. We recommend consulting the CDLE site for questions about unemployment or calling them at (303) 318-8000. 

If you suspect that someone is violating public health orders, you should contact your local public health department.

Data

  • It varies depending on the data source and when the data is reported to the state.
  • Vital records data is updated periodically after the CDC codes the data. We report out vital records data to account for deaths from COVID-19. 
  • Epidemiological data, like the number of confirmed cases, is updated daily at 4 p.m. and accounts for all cases reported to the state as of the previous day
  • Facility outbreak data is updated every Wednesday at 4 p.m.
  • Please note that the data is only as up-to-date as what has been reported to the state. You may notice lags in data or changes in numbers as labs, hospitals, facilities and local agencies report their data to the state. 

Information on the state’s dashboard may change as new or different information is discovered through case investigations performed at the local level. Labs, hospitals, and state and local public health agencies enter initial data into a database. Then, local health agency epidemiologists investigate the cases to gather more information. As they gather more information about a case, they update the data. 

Cases and deaths are attributed to the county of residence of each individual.

The total number of cases includes both confirmed and probable cases.  

  • Cases are considered confirmed when there has been a positive molecular amplification test (such as PCR) performed by a lab. 
  • A case is  considered probable when: 
    • (1) An individual meets clinical criteria* AND there is an epidemiologic link,**  but no lab test to confirm.
      OR
    • (2) A person has tested positive with an antigen test from a respiratory specimen, with symptoms beginning on or after 8/17/20.
      OR
    • (3) A death certificate lists COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death, but there is no lab test to confirm.
      • *Clinical criteria: patient must have one of the following AND no alternative more likely diagnosis: (1) at least two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, rigors, myalgia, headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion, or runny nose OR (2) at least one of the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new olfactory disorder, new taste disorder OR (3) severe respiratory illness with at least one of the following: clinical or radiographic evidence of pneumonia, or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
      • **An epidemiological link is close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 disease OR a member of a risk group as defined by public health authorities during an outbreak.
  • It is possible a person can test negative for COVID-19 and still be infected with COVID-19.
    • There are many reasons a test can produce a false-negative result. This can happen when a person is tested too early in the incubation period or too long after symptoms improve and there isn't enough viral material for the test to detect. It can also happen if a sample was collected improperly or not handled or stored at proper temperatures. 
    • If the negative test is accompanied by a low suspicion of COVID-19 or a more likely alternative diagnosis, the person is likely not infected with COVID-19.  However, if the person who tests negative is symptomatic and has had close contact with a case, repeat testing should be considered in consultation with their provider.

  • Data presented on this dashboard represents more than 80% of all reported COVID-19 cases. Cases with an unknown race or ethnicity are excluded from these calculations, so it does not provide an accurate view of statewide trends. 
  • The state is working with hospitals and medical providers that interact directly with patients to encourage them to collect and report this data. 
  • As an important note, race and ethnicity data can be challenging to collect and report accurately if a medical provider does not ask the patient to self-report it.  

  • We currently rely on a broad network of individual health care providers and hospitals to report the data that shows up on our dashboard. 
  • The Colorado Hospital Association reports discharge data, which provides  a snapshot of people who have recovered from the most severe illnesses related to COVID-19. 
  • All hospital data is collected and maintained by the individual hospitals and is shared in aggregate by the state in partnership with the Colorado Hospital Association. Our data-sharing agreement with the hospitals does not permit the state to release facility-level data. For that information, contact the individual hospital that maintains that data. For questions and more information about hospital data, please contact the Colorado Hospital Association.

Colorado provides death data related to COVID-19 in two ways:

  • Deaths caused by COVID-19:
    • The vital records death data is based on CDC coding of death certificates, and it reflects the number of deaths due to COVID-19, based on the expert judgment of health care providers and coroners. 
      • The number comes from death certificates where COVID-19 is listed as the cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death.
      • This number is determined by the CDC and is updated daily for dates through the previous Saturday.  
  • Deaths among people who died with COVID-19:
    • The epidemiological death data reflects people who died with COVID-19, but COVID-19 may not have been the cause of death listed on the death certificate. It comes from two sources:
      • From health care providers and laboratories that report cases to the state using a national case definition.
      • From state-reviewed death certificates where COVID-19 is listed as the cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death. These death certificates may not yet have been coded by the CDC.
      • This information is required by the CDC and is crucial for public health surveillance, as it provides more information about disease transmission and can help identify risk factors among all deaths across populations.

  • Public health systems across the country use epidemiological death data to rapidly classify and count cases and deaths consistently. The vital records death data, which accounts for deaths caused by COVID-19, take much longer to obtain.
  • The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists set a national standardized case definition for counting COVID-19 deaths for epidemiological purposes, and the CDC approved it. The case definition includes both confirmed and probable case deaths:
    • A death is classified as a confirmed case if the case had a positive COVID-19 lab test.
    • A death is classified as a probable case if the case meets the probable case definition or the death certificate lists “COVID-19” or an equivalent as a cause of death, but it does not have a positive lab test. 

  • The numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 and deaths among people with COVID-19 should not be added together to determine a total death count. They are from separate data sources.
  • The numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 and deaths among people with COVID-19 are reported from two different systems that are updated on different timelines. These numbers cannot be compared day-to-day to determine how many deaths have occurred in each category.
  • The number of deaths due to COVID-19 are not necessarily included in the number of deaths among people with COVID-19. After review, at either the state or national level, some deaths may not be counted as COVID-19 deaths. This is rare, and the expectation is that in the end the numbers will closely align. 
  • The deaths due to COVID-19 are provisional counts and often track several weeks behind other data. The number reported indicates the number of deaths from records that have been analyzed as of the date indicated. However, due to the one- to eight-week timeframe it can take to completely process death records, counts from previous weeks are continually revised as more records are received and processed. 
  • The deaths due to COVID-19 are provisional counts and often track several weeks behind the epidemiological data. The number reported indicates the number of deaths from records that have been analyzed as of the date indicated. However, due to the one- to eight-week timeframe it can take to completely process death records, counts from previous weeks are continually revised as more records are received and processed. 
  • More information about CDC’s COVID-19 Death Data and Resources.

3-Day average of cases of COVID-19 by date reported to the state
  • What this graph shows: Each column represents a three-day average of the number of COVID-19 cases, by the date the cases are reported to public health.
  • What to know about this data: 
    • This graph shows the same data as the Cases of COVID-19 by date reported to the state graph, but averages 3 days worth of data into one column.
      • A 3-day average provides a more accurate picture of trends and smooths out data from reporting delays or other processes that may create artificial peaks and valleys.
    • This graph does not track the number of newly-diagnosed cases from day to day.
    • The reported date of a case can be re-assigned to an earlier date on rare occasions. 
    • The day someone got sick, the day they were tested, and the day public health was notified of the positive results might be several days apart
Cases of COVID-19 by date reported to the state 
  • What this graph shows: The number of COVID-19 cases being reported to public health each day because someone had a positive lab test or had symptoms of COVID-19 and were linked to someone with a positive lab test. 
  • What to know about this data: 
    • This graph does not track the number of newly-diagnosed cases from day to day.
    • The reported date of a case can be re-assigned to an earlier date on rare occasions. 
    • The day someone got sick, the day they were tested, and the day public health was notified of the positive results might be several days apart.
Cases of COVID-19 by date of illness onset
  • What this graph shows: The estimated date of when symptoms began for cases of COVID-19 reported to public health.
  • What to know about this data
    • This graph does not track the number of newly-diagnosed cases each day.
    • This graph is referred to as the “epi curve” and shows the frequency of new cases based on the date of onset of disease. Over time, this graph will provide the best picture of the actual progression of illness during an outbreak. 
    • This graph will change every day as new cases are investigated and information is entered about when symptoms started for each person. Cases that test positive today could show up with a symptom onset date of several days or weeks prior. 
    • Date of symptom onset is usually obtained after public health is able to investigate a case. Because it takes time to investigate cases, this graph is often several weeks behind in providing an accurate picture of transmission.
Cumulative number of cases of COVID-19 in Colorado by reported date to the state
  • What this graph shows: A cumulative total of the new number of COVID-19 cases that correspond to the date the case was reported to public health. 
  • What to know about this data:
    • This graph shows that we continue to have cases reported every day.
    • This graph does not track the number of cases reported from one day to the next
    • As long as cases continue to be reported, this graph will always go up.
    • The reported date of a case can be re-assigned to an earlier date on rare occasions. 
Cumulative number of cases of COVID-19 in Colorado by date of illness onset
  • What this graph shows: A cumulative total of the cases by the estimated date of when symptoms began. 
  • What to know about this data:
    • This graph does not track the number of newly-diagnosed cases each day.
    • This graph will change every day as new cases are investigated and information is entered about when symptoms started for each person. 
    • Date of symptom onset is usually obtained after an epidemiologist is able to investigate a case. Due to the time it takes to investigate cases, this graph is often several weeks behind in providing accurate cumulative totals by onset date of illness.
Cases of COVID-19 in Colorado by county
  • What this graph shows: The number of people testing positive for, or determined as a probable case of, COVID-19 in each county.
  • What to know about this data:
    • Sometimes there is missing information or errors in preliminary data regarding county of residence. As more information is learned through case investigations, these numbers may change.
Case Rates per 100,000 People in Colorado by county
  • What this graph shows: The rate of people testing positive for, or determined as a probable case of, COVID-19 in each county. 
    • NOTE ABOUT RATES: Because population sizes vary widely, rates are often used instead of counts to better compare the level of disease across different populations. This is done by dividing the number of cases in a community by the population of that community, and then multiplying that number by 100,000. Regardless of the true population of any given county, an estimated comparison can be made across populations by using a baseline of 100,000 people. 
  • What to know about this data:
    • Caution should be used when interpreting rates in counties with small populations. In smaller populations with fewer cases, there is not enough information to make a valid comparison. Rates are not shown for counties with less than 5 cases. 
    • People who test positive in Colorado while visiting are included in the county where they were identified.
    • Sometimes there is missing information or errors in preliminary data regarding county of residence. As more information is learned through case investigations, these numbers may change.
Number of deaths among COVID-19 cases  in Colorado by date of death
  • What this graph shows: The number of deaths among people diagnosed with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 listed on their death certificate, recorded by the date a death occurred. 
  • What to know about this data:
    • Due to standard delays in the process of recording deaths in Colorado, it may be several days between the day a death occurs and the day the death appears in this graph. This means the number of deaths reported may change on a day-to-day basis (particularly within the past week) as reports of new deaths are received.
    • This graph includes deaths among people with COVID-19 - COVID-19 may or may not be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate.
Cumulative number of deaths among COVID-19 cases in Colorado by reported date to the state
  • What this graph shows: The cumulative number of deaths reported among people diagnosed with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 listed on their death certificate, corresponding to the date a person was reported to have COVID-19. The date a death is reported is often not the same as the actual date of death or the same as the date the case was initially reported to public health.
  • What to know about this data:
    • This graph does not track the date a death was reported 
    • This graph does not track the number of deaths reported from one day to the next
      • Although we are tracking and collecting the date of death for each case, it can take several days before we receive a death certificate and are able to match the death to a known case. CDPHE is working with other state partners to streamline the process of reporting date of death in a more timely manner.
    • This graph includes deaths among people with COVID-19 - COVID-19 may or may not be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate.
    • This graph will change every day as new deaths occur and those deaths are attributed to when cases were first reported for each person..
    • The furthest column to the right provides an accurate accounting of the total deaths of COVID-19 to date. 
Cumulative number of deaths among COVID-19 cases in Colorado by date of illness onset
  • What this graph shows: The cumulative number of deaths among people diagnosed with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 listed on their death certificate, corresponding to the date a person began experiencing symptoms.
  • What to know about this data
    • This graph does not track the date a death was reported 
    • This graph does not track deaths from one day to the next
      • Although we are tracking and collecting the date of death for each case, it can take several days before we receive a death certificate and are able to match the death to a known case. CDPHE is working with other state partners to streamline the process of reporting date of death in a more timely manner.
    • This graph includes deaths among people with COVID-19 - COVID-19 may or may not be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate.
    • The furthest column to the right provides an accurate accounting of the total deaths of COVID-19 to date.
Cumulative number of hospitalized cases of COVID-19 in Colorado by date reported to the state
  • What this graph shows: A cumulative running total of the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, corresponding to the date their illness was reported. 
  • What to know about this data:
    • Knowing how many people have been hospitalized helps us understand the severity of disease.
    • As long as cases continue to be hospitalized, this graph will always go up.
    • This graph does not track the cumulative number of people who are newly-hospitalized each day.
    • This graph does not track the number of people who have been discharged from the hospital.
      • Admission and discharge dates are not readily available for each patient. CDPHE is currently working with other partners to streamline this data and make it available.
Cumulative number of hospitalized cases of COVID-19 in Colorado by date of illness onset
  • What this graph shows: A cumulative running total of the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, corresponding to the date they began experiencing symptoms. 
  • What to know about this data:
    • This graph does not track the number of newly-hospitalized cases each day.
    • This graph does not track the number of people who have been discharged from the hospital.
      • Admission and discharge dates are not readily available for each patient. CDPHE is currently working with other partners to streamline this data and make it available. 
    • This graph will change every day as new cases are investigated and information is entered about when symptoms started for each hospitalized person. Cases that are hospitalized today could show up with a symptom onset date of several days or weeks prior. 
    • Date of symptom onset is usually obtained after an epidemiologist is able to investigate a case. Due to the time it takes to investigate cases, this graph is often several weeks behind in providing an accurate picture of hospitalizations.
Positivity data from clinical laboratories
  • What this graph shows: The total number of tests reported to CDPHE as being performed each day - and the percent of those tests that are positive for COVID-19. 
    • The number of tests from CDPHE’s state laboratory are indicated in tan, the number of tests from other commercial labs are indicated in blue. Test numbers correspond to the scale on the left side of the graph.
    • The red line indicates the percent of tests reported that are positive. The percent of positive tests correspond to the scale on the right side of the graph.
  • What to know about this data:
    • The percent of positive tests is helpful for public health to track whether symptoms of people being tested are caused by COVID-19 (a higher positivity rate) or if their symptoms are being caused by something else (a lower positivity rate).
    • Total number of people tested might be underestimated because while most laboratories report all COVID test results to CDPHE, they are only required to report positive results.
Testing encounters
  • This data is a cumulative total from the positivity graph, which shows the total number of people tested each day. Many people get tested multiple times, and each of those tests is counted in the positivity graph as long as the tests were taken on separate days. If an individual was tested more than once in a given day, they will only be counted once for each day they have been tested.  
  • The Testing Encounters totals are higher than those represented in the People Tested numbers because in the People Tested numbers, individuals only are counted once, regardless of how many times they have been tested. 

Methods for the two-week cumulative incidence map and the epidemic curve map are based on guidance from the CDC. National-level maps can be accessed here

Two-Week Cumulative Incidence Rate

The two-week cumulative incidence rate summarizes new cases reported in the past two weeks per 100,000 people. It looks at recent incidence to capture the potential burden of currently ill people who may be infectious and/or currently accessing healthcare. 

The sum of each region’s number of reported cases in the past two weeks (in other words, the difference between the total number of cases from two weeks ago from the current total number of cases) is divided by that region’s population. The resulting rate is multiplied by 100,000 to get a two-week cumulative incidence rate per 100,000 people.

  • Low: There have been 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks.
  • Moderate: There have been between 10 and 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks.
  • Moderately high: There have been between 50 and 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks.
  • High: There have been more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks.

Current Epidemic Curve

The current epidemic curve categorizes counties into phases of the epidemic curve based on two-week incidence and recent slope. It provides a more detailed view into the burden of illness and the trajectory of new illnesses. 

Counties are categorized based on (1) the number of new cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks, and (2) the trajectory of the three-day moving average daily incidence per 100,000. By hovering over each region, you can see a figure detailing how three-day moving averages of daily incidence and the corresponding phase of the epidemic curve have changed over the past month. 

The ‘Two-Week Cumulative Incidence Rate’ section above details how the number of new cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks is calculated for each region.

Three-day moving average daily incidence rates per 100,000 are calculated for each region by first totaling the number of new cases by date reported to the state. The total number of cases reported on each day is divided by each region’s population, and multiplied by 100,000 to get a daily incidence rate per 100,000 people. The three-day moving average is the mean of daily incidence rates per 100,000 for the current and past two days. 

  • Low incidence growth: There have been ten or fewer new cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks. Incidence is low, but increasing.
  • Elevated incidence growth: There have been more than ten new cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks. Incidence is high and increasing.
  • Elevated incidence plateau: There have been more than ten new cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks. Incidence is high and remaining stable.
  • Sustained decline: Incidence is consistently decreasing. 
  • Low incidence plateau: There have been ten or fewer new cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks. Incidence is low and remaining stable.

Region-Specific Incidence

For regions with >5 cases in the past two weeks, a smoothing trend line was fit to three-day moving average incidence by date reported to the state. 

The magnitude and direction of change of the smoothing trend line is shown below incidence. This line describes the changes that are occurring in the above smoothing trend line.

Variable explanations
Variable name Explanation
Setting name

Name of facility with outbreak.

Setting type

Type of facility with outbreak (from list in Outbreak database).

If setting type is other, specify

If Type of facility is "Other" or there are additional details about facility type, they will be listed here.

Colorado county (exposure location)

County where facility is located

Date illnesses were determined to be an outbreak

Date that public health determined the illness at a facility is a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19

Number of residents positive for COVID-19 (lab confirmed)

Number of RESIDENTS who are confirmed cases of COVID-19 [note: in a correctional setting, these are inmates/detainees]

Number of residents with probable COVID-19 (NOT lab confirmed)

Number of RESIDENTS who are probable cases of COVID-19

Number of COVID-19 deaths (lab confirmed/confirmed)

Number of RESIDENTS who are confirmed cases of COVID-19 who died

Number of COVID-19 deaths (NOT lab confirmed/probable)

Number of RESIDENTS who are probable cases of COVID-19 who died

Number of staff who are positive for COVID-19 (lab confirmed)

Number of STAFF who are confirmed cases of COVID-19

Number of staff with probable COVID-19 (NOT lab confirmed)

Number of STAFF who are probable cases of COVID-19

Number of COVID-19 staff deaths (lab confirmed/confirmed)

Number of STAFF who are confirmed cases of COVID-19 who died

Number of COVID-19 staff deaths (NOT lab confirmed/probable)

Number of STAFF who are probable cases of COVID-19 who died

Number of attendees who are positive for COVID-19 (lab confirmed)

Number of ATTENDEES who are confirmed cases of COVID-19 [Note: may be campers, students, etc]

Number of attendees with probable COVID-19 (NOT lab confirmed)

Number of ATTENDEES who are probable cases of COVID-19

Number of COVID-19 attendee deaths (lab confirmed/confirmed)

Number of ATTENDEES who are confirmed cases of COVID-19 who died

Number of COVID-19 attendee deaths (NOT lab confirmed/probable)

Number of ATTENDEES who are probable cases of COVID-19 who died

Investigation status

Outbreak is ongoing if investigation status = ACTIVE. Outbreak is over if investigation status = RESOLVED.

 
In what types of facilities are outbreaks reported?
  • In health care settings, including long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, independent living facilities/senior communities that offer health care, inpatient rehab facilities, and long-term acute care hospitals.
  • In correctional settings, including state prisons, county and city jails, community corrections, detention settings, work release facilities.
  • In other settings, including factories, workplaces with crowded work conditions, camps, schools, child care centers, and independent living facilities/senior communities that do not offer health care. 
What is the definition of a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19?
  • Confirmed COVID-19 Outbreak: Two or more Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a facility or (non-household) group with onset in a 14 day period.
  • Confirmed COVID-19 Outbreak in a Healthcare Facility: Two or more Confirmed COVID-19 cases in residents with onset in a 14 day period.
  • Confirmed COVID-19 Outbreak in a Correctional Setting: Two or more Confirmed COVID-19 cases in residents/inmates/detainees/etc with onset in a 14 day period.
Why is the definition of an outbreak different for every kind of facility? Does facility size play a factor?

In general, the definition is the same: Two or more confirmed cases that began in a 14-day period. The definition for non-hospital health care facilities is more specific because outbreaks of any kind in these facilities tend to spread very rapidly and because the residents are at higher risk of severe illness and death. A more lenient definition means interventions to control the outbreak can occur more quickly

We use illness in residents to define outbreaks in nursing homes and correctional settings because it's a better indicator of spread of infection in the facility. Once we’ve identified there is an outbreak, staff are included in the case counts. 

When is an outbreak considered over?

A COVID-19 outbreak is over when 28 days have passed with no new illness.

What happens when there is an outbreak at a facility?
  1. A facility suspects an outbreak based on defined criteria and notifies local or state public health.
  2. Public health assesses the facility’s current practices and provides the facility with l assistance and support regarding infection prevention, personal protective equipment, testing strategies, and staffing recommendations.
  3. The facility implements appropriate mitigation measures, focusing on controlling the outbreak.
  4. The facility submits a final outbreak report to CDPHE once the outbreak is considered over.
Who notifies families of residents when there is an outbreak in a nursing home?

CDPHE 's nursing home rules require that all nursing homes have a policy regarding notification to a resident's representative. Notifications must be made for incidents, accidents, and changes of status, which could include illness. These rules do not specify notification of a family member when a resident is ill, but each facility's policy should address when and for what reasons notifications to resident representatives occur. CDPHE recommends communication with residents and families in the COVID-19 Preparation and Rapid Response guidance. To be as transparent as possible during the pandemic, CDPHE is releasing facility outbreak information before investigations are complete. Anyone can go to covid19.colorado.gov for the latest weekly update.

What if I suspect there is an outbreak at a facility that is not on this list?

Outbreaks should be reported to the local public health agency in the county where the suspected outbreak is located.

When is outbreak data updated?

The state updates information about outbreaks weekly on Wednesdays by about 4 p.m.

What are other challenges in collecting outbreak data during a COVID-19 outbreak?

Although public health is typically notified immediately about a possible outbreak, specific information, like the number of cases, is not available until epidemiologists can investigate the facility to gather more details. There are many complexities in this type of investigation that require further information gathering and analysis to provide an accurate account of the outbreak. Some of these factors include:

  • Some sites, such as hospice care facilities, have populations that already exhibit a variety of illnesses and who experience a higher mortality rate than the general population. It is not necessarily obvious whether someone is ill or died due to COVID-19 or due to their existing medical conditions.
  • Some residents of the facilities have do-not-resuscitate orders in place. This can mean that they will not receive advanced medical care and testing that might determine the cause of their death. 
  • Laboratory-confirmed positive cases are only reported as long as facilities are testing. Once there is confirmed transmission in a facility, it isn’t necessary to continue testing all new cases since they meet the probable case definition.
  • All facilities must report probable cases, as well as confirmed cases, to public health. Probable cases change frequently as epidemiologists investigate further and facilities require additional testing to rule out other respiratory illnesses. Facilities must report a full accounting of probable cases after an outbreak is over.
Does this data represent all cases (confirmed and probable) in a facility?

Because facilities are focused on disease control measures during an outbreak, the number of cases reported for each facility may be incomplete. A full accounting of all cases in an outbreak is made available when a facility submits their final report at the end of the outbreak.

How do you know a case wasn't exposed elsewhere in the community and not the outbreak facility?

It is possible that a person may have been exposed elsewhere (and we can rarely prove where any individual was exposed with a person-to-person pathogen), but when a person worked/lived/spent time in a facility with a known outbreak, we attribute their illness to the outbreak even if there is no definitive determination that the case acquired the illness at the facility. This approach is consistent across all outbreak types.

Diagnosed with/exposed to COVID-19

  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test, stay away from others and follow the instructions on how to isolate. 
  • If you have a positive test result for COVID-19, public health may contact you to collect information about your exposures and give you more information about preventing transmission to others.
  • Coloradans who are sick and receive negative COVID-19 test results should continue to stay home while they are sick and should consult with their health care provider about the need for additional testing and the appropriate time to resume normal activities.
  • If you need medical advice, call a health care provider or nurse line. It is important to CALL ahead BEFORE going to see a health care provider, urgent care, or emergency room in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Tell them your symptoms and where or how you might have been exposed.
  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. Tell the dispatcher your symptoms.

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, but you don’t have symptoms, follow the instructions on how to quarantine for 14 days after exposure. You may also want to get tested, but wait at least seven days after the date you think you were exposed to get tested using a PCR test.
    • If you get tested too early, there may not be enough viral material for the test to detect.
    • While it’s a good idea to wait about seven days to be tested after the date of exposure if you don’t have symptoms, some people may not become ill for up to 14 days. For that reason, people who have been exposed to COVID-19 should minimize their contact with others for 14 days from the date of their exposure, even if they test negative before the full two weeks have passed.

Masks

Pets

  • While it is believed to be rare, there have been some animals that have gotten COVID-19 from their owners or caregivers.
  • At this time there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 to people.

  • Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19. This is why it's very important to protect your pets by limiting contact if you are sick with either suspected or confirmed COVID-19. 
  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sharing food, and sleeping with your pet.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

  • As the number of people with COVID-19 in the U.S. increases, it is possible that we may see additional pets develop illness. If your pet does develop mild respiratory symptoms, isolate them alone in a room with their bed, food and water, and other necessities.
  • Call your veterinarian to let them know that your pet has symptoms and that you are isolating them at home.
  • If your pet’s symptoms worsen, contact your veterinarian. Let them know that your pet needs to be evaluated.

  • o not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
  • Keep cats indoors as much as possible to keep them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where large numbers of people and dogs gather.

Testing of symptomatic animals for COVID-19 is rare. It can be allowed in a joint decision between the state veterinarian and the state public health veterinarian in consultation with the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. It's critical to conserve testing resources for people.

Plasma donation

Convalescent plasma is plasma donated by people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 infection. This plasma contains antibodies that might be helpful in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infections.

Protecting yourself and your loved ones

  • Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow or sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home and self-isolate if you’re sick, and keep your children home if they are sick.
  • To protect others, wear a cloth face covering when outside your home and yard.
  • Aim to keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and non-household members.
  • Limit social interactions. The smallest group in the largest space poses the least risk.

Social/physical distancing

  • To socially distance simply means to increase physical distance between people in schools and workplaces, community events, and other places where people gather. The purpose is to limit disease spread. Examples include:
  • Giving no hugs or handshakes.
  • Increasing the physical distance between people to at least 6 feet.
  • Limiting social interactions and the size of group gatherings.
  • Staying home.

We need to limit in-person interactions to slow the spread of disease enough to keep our health care system from being overwhelmed. That means keeping enough beds and equipment in place so that hospitals can treat the sickest COVID-19 patients and continue to treat everyone else who has life-threatening conditions. 

Symptom Support Tool

The Symptom Support Tool can connect you with resources that can help with any physical or behavioral health symptoms you may experience during this time.

Collecting contact information along with your reported symptoms allows the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to provide follow-up support -- text messages that point people toward the right resources to help them manage their symptoms, understand testing recommendations, access telehealth services, and get help for other needs. Additionally, by providing your location, CDPHE will be able to map symptom reports across the state. 

We care about your privacy. CDPHE is responsible for protecting the health information of Colorado residents. We collect specific personal health information from individuals in the community and put that information together to measure the public's overall health and well-being. Your information will be protected and analyzed only by CDPHE, their authorized users (such as the Colorado School of Public Health, which uses data to model disease outbreaks), and your local public health agency.

Testing

  • Anyone with symptoms should get tested, stay away from others, and follow the instructions on how to isolate. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 you should follow the instructions on how to quarantine for 14 days after exposure to prevent potential disease spread. If you’d like to receive text messages with information about support available during isolation and/or quarantine, report your symptoms to Colorado COVID Symptom Support tool. In general, you do not need a test if you do not have symptoms.
  • Read the most current information about testing.
  • Patients can be tested through commercial labs that conduct COVID-19 testing. First CALL your provider to see if you need to be tested and to get instructions. 

A map of community testing sites is available here.

Health care providers themselves don't do the tests for COVID-19; they are done at medical laboratories. A health care provider or nurseline can help you by discussing with you whether you need to be tested and giving information about where to go to get tested. Remember to always contact a health care provider first before just going to an office, clinic, or emergency room. Work with your health insurer to find a provider. If you don’t have insurance, visit the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing website.

On March 9, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis instructed the Colorado Division of Insurance to take action to help ensure Coloradans would not be price-gouged for COVID-19 care by requiring most insurance companies to provide free care for COVID-19.

The person who requested the test for you will receive the results. If your health care provider requested the test, that provider will receive your results and communicate those results to you.

No. COVID-19 is an immediately reportable condition in Colorado. That means that the lab that processed your test or the health care provider who ordered it must report the results to public health.

  • Using a PCR diagnostic test, a negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in the person’s sample. This can happen when a person is tested too early in their incubation period, and there isn’t enough viral material for the test to detect.
  • False negative PCR results can also occur if a sample was collected improperly or not handled or stored at proper temperatures.
  • For COVID-19, a negative PCR test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness.

Antibody tests, antibody blood tests, and serologic tests refer to the same thing. It is a test to check your blood to look for antibodies, which are proteins that help fight off infections. Antibody tests can show if you had a previous infection with a virus. 

  • According to the CDC, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection. It depends on when someone was infected and the timing of the test.
  • Antibody tests cannot be used as the only way to diagnose someone as currently being sick with COVID-19.
  • We don’t yet know if a positive antibody test means you are immune to COVID-19.
  • Antibody tests may react with other seasonal viruses and result in false positive results. 

  • If you get an antibody test, and it is positive, that means you have antibodies that likely resulted from a COVID-19 infection or possibly a related coronavirus infection.
  • If you get an antibody test, and it is negative, you probably have not been previously infected with COVID-19. You still could have a current infection and still could get sick, or spread the virus to others, if recently exposed. Antibodies don’t show up for 1 to 3 weeks after infection. Some people may take even longer to develop antibodies, and some people may not develop them at all.

  • If you have symptoms, you would need a viral or swab test to confirm whether you have COVID-19. An antibody test alone cannot tell.
  • If you have no symptoms, you likely do not have an active infection, and no testing is needed.
  • Currently, these tests should only be used for research or surveillance purposes. 

Antibody tests are slowly becoming available through healthcare providers. Many companies are distributing rapid antibody tests, and some are being marketed as rapid, point-of-care tests. 

Travel

  • Non-essential travel is not recommended, and some kinds of travel may pose higher risks.
  • Airline travel may be riskier because of time spent in lines and terminals can make distancing difficult, and you may have to sit near others for long periods of time. Masking may be inconsistent. The virus does not spread easily on flights because of the way air is circulated and filtered, but viruses on high-touch surfaces in terminals and on airplanes can increase the risk of exposure via those surfaces.
  • A carefully planned driving trip to a hotel or vacation home is a less risky option because you should limit the amount of time spent interacting with people from other households. 
  • For any trip, consider what you will do if you become ill while away, and always check restrictions in the area to which you are traveling.
  • CDC’s travel website has more information.