Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that cause COVID-19. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for wildfires might be a little different this year. Know how wildfire smoke can affect you and your loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to protect yourselves.

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Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke

Issued for portions of southeastern Colorado

Issued at 8:00 AM MDT, Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment


Affected Area:  Teller, El Paso, Fremont, Custer, Pueblo, Huerfano, and Las Animas counties. Locations include, but are not limited to Woodland Park, Colorado Springs, Canon City, Pueblo,Walsenburg, and Trinidad.


Advisory in Effect:  8:00 AM MDT, Wednesday, September 30, 2020 to 9:00 AM MDT, Thursday, October 1, 2020.


Public Health Recommendations: If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors.  This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly.  Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present.  Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill.  If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.


Outlook:  Widespread smoke transported from local wildfires has been observed Wednesday morning across southeastern Colorado.  Smoke will gradually decrease across the region on Wednesday, with the slowest improvement for locations along and to the east of Interstate 25.  Additional smoke could be transported into the advisory area by late Wednesday afternoon and continue into Wednesday night.


For the latest Smoke Outlook, visit:


For more information about smoke and your health, visit:


For the latest Colorado statewide air quality conditions, forecasts, and advisories, visit:


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Some symptoms, like dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing can be caused by both wildfire smoke exposure and COVID-19.


Learn about symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms like fever or chills, muscle or body aches, and diarrhea are not related to smoke exposure. If you have any of these symptoms, the CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker can help you determine whether you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. If you have questions after using the CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker, contact a healthcare provider.


If you have severe symptoms, like difficulty breathing or chest pain, immediately call 911 or the nearest emergency facility.

Visit for more information on Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19

Masks will not protect you from wildfire smoke.


Masks that are used to slow the spread of COVID-19 offer little protection against wildfire smoke. They do not catch small, harmful particles in smoke that can harm your health.


Although N95 respirators do provide protection from wildfire smoke, they might be in short supply as frontline healthcare workers use them during the pandemic

Why do people need to consider COVID-19 along with wildfire smoke?


  • The COVID-19 pandemic is overlapping with the occurrence of wildfires in the United States.

  • Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of air pollutants that are harmful to human health.

  • Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, likely including COVID-19

  • Recent scientific publications (Conticini et al., 2020external icon & Travaglio et al., 2020external icon) suggest that air pollutant exposure worsens COVID-19 symptoms and outcomes.

Visit to learn more about actions to minimize potential health impacts from wildfire smoke