How to quarantine

Last updated: Español, 10/29/2020;  Tiếng Việt, 中文,  Soomaali,  العربية, नेपाली, 9/25/2020

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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.

Read more about the possibility of reinfection

  • 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 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:

  • If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must complete a full 14 days of quarantine, regardless of test results. If you live with someone who has COVID-19 and are caring for them or continuing to have contact, quarantine as soon as you know you have been exposed. Your quarantine should continue for 14 days after the end of the infected person’s isolation period or 14 days after your last contact with the infected person. 

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.

Additional resources