How to quarantine

Last updated September 29, 2020.

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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 a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Has symptoms of COVID-19:
  • Is getting ill and thinks they might have COVID-19. 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. Some people may not develop fever or fever may not appear until several days into the illness.
  • Separates people and restricts their movement if they were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick and prevent exposing others. People with COVID-19 can be contagious even without having symptoms.
  • Is for people who are not sick, but who may have been exposed to someone (in close contact with someone) who is sick. This could include members of your household, co-workers, or others you spend a great deal of time with (and are typically within six feet of for 15 minutes or more). Read more about what counts as close contact here:
  • Can be voluntary, but Colorado has legal authority to issue quarantine orders to people who were exposed to a contagious disease.
How long does it last?
  • Stay at home or stay put in your same location for 14 days after your last exposure so you don’t spread the disease to healthy people.
  • If you get sick, contact your local public health department, get tested, and begin following the isolation directions. Find them here:
  • A negative test result does not clear a person to end quarantine as some people don’t become ill for up to 14 days after exposure. A test completed before the end of that time may result as negative due to being collected too early in a person's illness.
  • If you live with someone who has COVID-19 and are caring for them or continuing to have contact, your 14-day quarantine will start at the end of the other person’s isolation period.
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.

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 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.

If you need to seek medical care, first CALL a provider or clinic first to get instructions BEFORE going to a health care office, hospital, or urgent care.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 and tell the dispatcher you are quarantining for COVID-19.