COVID-19 FAQ, resources and other tidbits to get you through the day

We've all heard the instructions to wash our hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer. We're collecting resources to answer many other FAQs related to the effects of the pandemic on our communities.
We've all heard the instructions to wash our hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer. We're collecting resources to answer many other FAQs related to the effects of the pandemic on our communities. (Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dear reader,

We’re trying cover some of the basics without recreating the wheel, so if you haven’t checked out the excellent FAQ at Colorado Public Radio, please do. We’ll keep this to your questions, public service announcements, the occasional mental break.

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list. Have a question we haven’t addressed? Know of a resource you think we should include? Please share with us here.


What does Colorado know about its COVID-19 cases?

The Colorado Independent is reporting real time updates from the state as they roll in here. We also have a page dedicated to our COVID-19 coverage, which you can find here

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment created a website reporting the state’s COVID-19 cases over time, broken down by age, area, method of transmission, etc. The site has other resources, including information on testing, isolation and quarantine procedures and answers for healthcare providers. 

The state also has a call line for general questions about COVID-19, with answers provided in languages including English, Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话) and more.

      • Main line: 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911

What is the coronavirus, COVID-19 and how serious is it?

The novel coronavirus causing the global pandemic is a new strain of a common family of viruses, also known as coronaviruses, which include SARS and MERS. The virus causes the disease, the coronavirus disease 2019, known as COVID-19. The fatality rate from COVID-19 is uncertain, because the total number of cases remains a mystery. Some people may have mild symptoms and may never get tested. 

The Centers for Disease Control says COVID-19 “poses a serious public health risk,” especially for older adults and those with preexisting medical conditions.  

Johns Hopkins University has a map to track the spread of the disease here.

What can I do and not do during Colorado’s stay-at-home order? 

Gov. Polis’ order is in effect until at least April 11 and is pretty explicit: Coloradans should take extreme steps to avoid contact with anybody outside their household and minimize contact with public places. 

That means Coloradans should stay at home whenever possible except to perform essential activities. This doesn’t mean you’re housebound for the next two weeks. Getting outside and walking around, hiking, biking and running are all considered essential activities. And we encourage people to exercise to maintain their physical and mental health during this time. Houses of worship are also allowed to remain open, if they maintain physical distancing.

Congregating outside for sports, picnics or get-togethers is prohibited and the order mandates that people maintain a physical distance of six feet from one another when out in public. Playgrounds are closed because of their risk of viral transmission. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which can be found in this FAQ below, must self-isolate and seeking medical care. 

Essential activities you can go out for:

  • Obtaining food, medicine, other household supplies — liquor stores, retail marijuana stores, gas stations, hardware stores, gun stores, pet stores, and restaurants and bars for take-out and drive-thru are all open. 
  • Going to and from work if you are an employee of a critical business (we’ve included a list below). 
  • Seeking medical care.
  • Caring for family, household members and animals.
  • Caring for a vulnerable person in another location.
  • Participating in outdoor activities while maintaining six feet or more from other people.

Essential Businesses:

  • Health care operations.
  • Critical infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people, and food supply chain.
  • Critical manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, agriculture.
  • Critical retail, including grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, gas stations, restaurants and bars for takeout/delivery, marijuana dispensaries (only for medical or curbside delivery), hardware stores.
  • Critical services, including trash and recycling, mail, shipping, laundromats, child care, building cleaning and maintenance, auto supply and repair, warehouses/distribution, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, animal shelters and rescues. 
  • News media.
  • Financial institutions.
  • Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations.
  • Construction.
  • Defense.
  • Public safety services like law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMTs, security, disinfection, cleaning, building code enforcement, snow removal, auto repair.
  • Vendors that provide critical services or products including logistics, child care, tech support, or contractors with critical government services.
  • K-12 public and private schools for the purpose of providing meals, housing, facilitating or providing materials for distance learning and providing other essential services to students. 
  • Postsecondary institutions including private and public colleges and universities for the purpose of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions.
  • Pastoral services for individuals who are in crisis or in-need of end-of-life services.
  • Houses of worship may remain open, but must practice social distancing or use electronic platforms.
  • Professional services, such as legal, title companies, or accounting services, real estate appraisals and transactions.

For a more detailed list, read the amended order from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

What can I do to help?

Help Now Colorado (HNC) includes many useful resources for people looking to lend a hand. Note: If your agency, organization or non-profit needs assistance fill out this form, as HNC provides resources for organizations seeking volunteers.

      • Click here to sign up through HNC to register to be a volunteer or volunteer leader in your community. If a volunteer need is identified you will be contacted.
      • Do you want to donate to assist HNC with financial resources to help Coloradans in need? Click here to donate to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
      • Blood donation info: There is an urgent need for blood. If you would like to do something to give back, you are healthy and eligible, please make an appointment at a Vitalant donation center or blood drive near you. 

There are other ways to help, too. Food banks are in need of donations and volunteers to meet the need during this time. 

For other ideas of how to help, read “How you can help during the coronavirus outbreak” from The Washington Post.

What can I do if I lost my job or if my hours were cut because of COVID-19?

From the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment: If you work for a ski resort or other employer that closed or reduced your hours to help stop the spread of COVID-19, you can file or reopen an unemployment claim.

How can I get help with food?

Our colleagues at Chalkbeat Colorado developed an interactive map of where children can get meals while Colorado schools are closed due to coronavirus.

  • Click here to enter your address and find nearby meal distribution sites, schedules and meal types (vary by site), and directions.

If you need help feeding yourself or your family:

  • This map includes some sites offering offer food boxes and/or meals for families.
  • Food Bank of the Rockies serves most of Northern Colorado and some of the Western Slope of Colorado, and has an easy food pantry locator.
  • Care and Share food bank serves much of southern Colorado and also has a food pantry locator here.

What do the experts recommend to combat coronavirus?

How to protect yourself

  • Coronavirus can be spread in the air through personal contact, but new research suggests the virus can also live on hard surfaces like metal and plastic for up to three days. The virus doesn’t pass into your body through the skin, but instead lives on mucus particles that can be ingested or inhaled. So, the CDC recommends people distance themselves from others by at least six feet during the pandemic. Those who can stay home should, especially the elderly and those with preexisting conditions or compromised immune systems. 
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. The CDC’s complete guidelines for disinfection can be found here.

Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you have any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider or seek medical assistance. 

FAQ for healthcare professionals.

How many people have recovered from COVID-19 and how long does it take?

More than 122,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 as of 2:30 p.m. March 26, out of more than 521,000 confirmed cases globally. And more than 23,600 people have died from the disease. Johns Hopkins University has the latest global recovery numbers on its coronavirus resource center website here.

Colorado’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 5, and the state doesn’t yet have any data on the number of people who have recovered.

The World Health Organization says about 80% of those who contract the disease experience mild symptoms and will recover in about two weeks without lasting effects. About 14% experienced severe symptoms and 5% became critically ill, according to the WHO. 

How does Colorado compare to other states? 

As of March 26, New York has the highest number of confirmed cases, deaths and number of people tested. It has more than 30,000 confirmed cases, 285 deaths and more than 103,000 tested. It also tests at the highest rate of any state at 5,319 tests per million residents. 

Colorado, as of March 26, has close to 1,100 confirmed cases, 19 deaths, and more than 8,000 people tested. The state tests 1,400 people per million residents. 

Maryland has the lowest testing rate of any state, at 86 tests per million residents. 

All 50 states have confirmed COVID-19 cases, and the nation as a whole has more than 75,000 confirmed cases with about 1,100 deaths. 

Vox created this table for March 25, tracking the numbers broken down by state.

Data updated March 25
Source: COVID Tracking Project, Census Bureau
Graphic by Vox Media


What can I do if I’m feeling stressed, anxious or need someone to talk to about mental health?

The isolation and loneliness we may feel during this time is normal. If it’s possible, you should try to spend some time with loved ones, get outdoors or do something you enjoy. If you are experiencing heightened anxiety and other mental health problems, Colorado Crisis Services provides free, confidential, professional and immediate support for any mental health, substance use or emotional concern, 24/7/365, and there are several ways to connect.  

  • Call 1-844-493-8255. When you call Colorado Crisis Services, you will be connected to a trained crisis counselor.
  • Text “talk” to 38255. You’ll immediately be put in contact with a trained counselor, ready to text with you about anything.
  • Access help via online chat.  Start chat now. Chat services are available from 4pm to 12am daily.