What to do Now That We’ve Reached Community Spread

March 25, 2020 @ 3:31 p.m.

Dear CU Denver community,

You and your families are in our hearts and minds every day as we continue to adjust to a world so drastically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are reaching the point where many of us likely know or have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Due to limited testing capabilities, more people actually have the virus than have tested positive. As a result of this “community spread,” public health agencies are no longer tracking the movements of individuals who have tested positive, nor are they able to account for the full number of people who are presumed positive.

While CU Denver is in touch with public health agencies every day, we too are not able to provide information on specific students, faculty, or staff members who may have the virus. Fortunately, since moving to remote teaching/learning almost two weeks ago, the vast majority of us have not been around other campus colleagues. 

We know that rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis, causing undue stress. We ask that you please do not share information you’ve gotten from potentially unreliable sources (such as social media other than official university accounts), particularly about individual members of our campus.

To protect yourself, your loved ones, and the most vulnerable people in our community, we implore you to be smart about the choices you’re making, and to follow the guidance of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to  slow community spread.

A reminder for “critical” employees continuing to work on campus:

  • Observe social/physical distancing recommendations, keeping at least 6 feet (or the length of skis) between yourself and others at all times.
  • Remember to thoroughly wash your hands, and to follow prevention protocols as the coronavirus continues to evolve.
  • Carry your CU badge with you at all times, and be prepared to report on your destination if stopped.
  • Please take trash and recycling containers out of your offices and workstations each evening, and leave them in the hallways for housekeeping.

We know many of you have questions about what to do if you or a loved one begin to show symptoms. Please see guidance below, and continue to check our COVID-19 website for the latest updates.

While we are all coping with the uncertainty and stress of the pandemic, let’s try to keep in mind that with each day that passes, we are closer to better days.

Dorothy Horrell signature

Dorothy Horrell

Guidance on COVID-19 Symptoms


Given the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in the community, if you experience the symptoms below, there is a significant risk that you have COVID-19.

  • New cough
  • New shortness of breath
  • New fever
  • Loss of sense of smell*

*While not scientifically proven, loss of sense of smell may be a potential early sign of COVID-19. 

What to do if Symptomatic

If you are symptomatic, you should do the following:

  • Stay home, and contact your primary care provider by phone or email. CU Denver students, faculty and staff may call the Health Center at Auraria at 303-615-9999. Tell them your symptoms and follow their recommendations.
  • At this time, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) is prioritizing tests for individuals who are high risk, health providers, or hospitalized. Consequently, you may not be able to be tested. 
  • Per CDPHE guidance on COVID-19 testing, if a provider recommends you get testing or care, follow the provider’s advice BEFORE going into any health facility. Ask your provider about private lab sites where you can get tested. Testing is free. Proof of insurance is not required. You must have an order from your healthcare provider.
  • DO NOT go to an emergency room to get a test for COVID-19 unless you are having a medical emergency. For COVID-19, that means severe respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath or breathing difficulties.
  • DO call 911 or go to an emergency room if you are having a medical emergency. Tell the dispatcher your symptoms.
  • CDPHE recommends that unless you are tested and confirmed to be negative for COVID-19, you should assume that what you have is COVID-19, and self-isolate until:
    • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is 3 full days of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen)

    • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

    • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
The Centers for Disease Control provides additional guidance on symptoms and testing.
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