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When To Call 911 And When To Call A Doctor For COVID-19 Symptoms

Mar 21, 2020

The campus of Aspen Valley Hospital.
Credit Google Maps

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is providing guidelines on when those with COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should call 9-1-1 and when they should call a primary care physician. 

Call 911 for severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. CDPHE says do not wait for the results of a COVI-19 test to call 911.

Call a health care provider for shortness of breath or other serious symptoms. CDPHE says to continue to self-isolate if symptoms are becoming more severe. 

For people with mild symptoms: 

  • Early on, symptoms may feel like a common cold, including a combination of cough, body aches, fatigue, and chest tightness.
  • People who are not at high risk of severe illness may not need to be evaluated in-person or tested for COVID-19. Not everyone with symptoms or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 will be tested right away. 
  • If you have mild symptoms including a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or suspect that you were exposed but are not able to be immediately tested, please stay home and avoid contact with others. Isolate yourself until:
  1. You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that’s 3 days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) AND
  2. other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
  3. At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  • Use over-the-counter medication to treat mild symptoms. There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19.

The 911 system is not intended for minor injuries or general medical questions. CDPHE says those seeking general advice or wishing to be tested for COVID-19 should call 911.

The guidelines were issued as health officials reported the first coronavirus-related death of an Eagle County resident, a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions. He died at a Denver-area hospital.