Published: March 31, 2020

Coronavirus text overlaid on a patterned background

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.

The most up-to-date information and advice can be found here from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.


CU Boulder update

Medical Services is now screening all people visiting Wardenburg Health Center for respiratory infections and possible COVID-19 exposure. This means that all visitors who enter the building will check in with a Medical Services staff member who will assess healthcare needs, respiratory symptoms and travel-related information.  Medical Services continues to evaluate students at risk for COVID-19 infection in accordance with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommendations.

As a part of the CU Boulder community, we have a commitment to look out for one another. Take precautions to stay and keep others healthy during this time of year. It is also important that we recognize that not any one racial or ethnic population is susceptible to illness or is prone to spreading illness. This is a global issue, not a regional one.

COVID-19 Campus Information


Symptoms of COVID-19

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

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

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

The CDC has created a Coronavirus Self-Checker, a guide to help you make decisions and see appropriate medical care.

CDC Coronavirus Self Checker

Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk.


Protect yourself and our community:

Help protect yourself and others:

  • Wash your hands frequently before eating, before and after using the bathroom and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people.  Stay at least 6 feet from others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Face coverings are now required within Boulder County and on the University of Colorado Boulder campus when in public and within 6 feet of people outside of one’s household.
  • There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.

If you are ill:

  • Avoid travel and contact with others to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
  • Avoid sharing items like dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels and bedding with other people or pets in your home.
  • Clean common surfaces like counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.

If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

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

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911, your healthcare provider or the CU Medical Services nurse line at 303-492-5101 before seeking medical care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

Medical Services offers a 24/7 nurse line and can provide advice and recommendations by calling 303-492-5101.


Self-Quarantine and Self-Isolation

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, self-quarantine means choosing to separate yourself from others if you have been exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus) as defined below, but are not symptomatic. Self-quarantine is meant to prevent the spread of the virus. It is a voluntary quarantine and recommended for people who are returning from impacted areas or who have been exposed to COVID-19.

Individuals returning home from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19 (Level 3 Travel health notice) are being asked to stay home for a period of 14 days from the time they left the area. 

Individuals who have been in close contact for a long period of time, with a lab confirmed COVID-19 case, are also asked to stay home for 14 days from the time of contact. 

Individuals who have been directed by their local health department should also follow self-quarantine recommendations.

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 call your healthcare provider for advice and recommendations. Students can call the 24/7 nurse line through Medical Services at 303-492-5101.

According to the CDC, isolation is the separation of a person or group of people known to be or reasonably believed to be infected with COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the virus. Isolation may be voluntary or compelled by a public health order. 

    Self-quarantine

    Stay home for 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread (Level 3 Travel health notice) and practice social distancing.

    Take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:

    1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
    2. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
    3. Do not take public transportation, taxis or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
    4. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
    5. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

    What to do if you get sick:

    If you get sick with fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough or have trouble breathing:

    • Seek medical care. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
    • Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
    • Avoid contact with others.

    Self-isolation

    If you need to self-isolate, follow these steps until a healthcare provider or local or state health department says you can return to your normal activities:

    • Call ahead before seeking medical care. Let your healthcare provider know you are being evaluated for COVID-19 before visiting the medical office so they can prepare and help prevent the spread of illness. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you are being evaluated for COVID-19.
    • Stay home if you are sick. Restrict activities outside of your home, unless you need medical care. Do not go to work, school or other public areas. Do not use public transportation, ride-shares or taxis.
    • Avoid close contact with other people and animals. As much as possible, stay in a specific room/area of your home and avoid close contact with others. If possible, use a separate bathroom and wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after using the bathroom. Also avoid close contact with pets and other animals. If you are caring for a pet wash your hands before and after you feed and interact with them and wear a facemask if available.
    • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used if your hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Germs can travel up to 6 ft. when you cough or sneeze. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, facemask or your sleeve when coughing and sneezing. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Wear a facemask. If possible, wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and when entering a medical office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
    • Avoid sharing items. Avoid sharing dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels and bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly.
    • Clean common surfaces. Clean common surfaces like counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or other body fluids on them.
      Use a household cleaning spray or wipes according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
    • Monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms are worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing) call your healthcare provider and let them know that you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19 before visiting the medical office. This allows the medical office to prepare  and help prevent the spread of illness. When entering a medical facility put on a facemask if available. Ask your healthcare provider to call the local or state health department. Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
    • Discontinuing home isolation. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.

    Develop a symptom watch schedule by checking your symptoms twice daily:  

    • Take your temperature 
    • Pay attention to cough, difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, congestion, chest pain, chills, runny nose, congestion, abdominal pain or fatigue.
    • Contact your medical provider via telehealth or phone if symptoms develop or are worsening.
    • Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening, like having difficulty breathing.

    Enact prevention measures:

    • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds 
    • Use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
    • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth
    • Wipe down surfaces with disinfectant products
    • Do not share cups, utensils, lip balm, e-cigarettes (JUULs) or other smoking devices etc.