COVID-19 information and resources for Colorado’s immigrant families

Written by: Erica Manoatl
Date Posted: April 3, 2020

Coloradans are feeling the significant economic impacts of the social disruptions necessitated by the COVID-19 outbreak. Our state’s immigrant families are among the groups feeling these economic impacts most acutely, due to both industry-specific effects and the narrow eligibility requirements immigrant families face to qualify for support services. While foreign-born workers across the U.S. have lower unemployment rates compared to their native-born peers, they are more likely to work in service professions, many of which have been halted due to stay-at-home orders. And despite paying taxes and contributing significantly to the economy, immigrant workers without documentation are ineligible for most public programs, while those with documentation deal with limited eligibility for public programs and potential consequences that would limit their pathway to citizenship should they access them due to the public charge rule.

Nearly 1 in 4 Colorado children (about 285,000 children) live in immigrant families, where either the child or a parent was born in another country. The recent Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed by Congress have set aside trillions of dollars to deliver relief to American families—how much of this relief will be felt by Colorado’s large and vital immigrant community?

In the coming weeks, we will continue to provide updates with essential information and resources that specifically apply to our state’s immigrant families in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, as these families are valued members of our state community and are likely in need of significant support right now.

Testing and treatment for COVID-19 for immigrant families

The state’s website has resources describing the symptoms of COVID-19, current cases, how to isolate or quarantine, and Colorado’s stay-at-home order. The information on this site is also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali and Simplified Chinese. Only some people need to and will be tested for COVID-19. Please review the state guidelines for what to do about mild or severe coronavirus symptoms; only those with severe symptoms should call a healthcare provider to see if they should be tested.

Free testing and treatment for COVID-19 may be available to immigrant families depending on their health insurance or immigration status/eligibility for public health insurance:

  • For immigrant families who are insured by Medicaid or the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), testing and treatment for COVID-19 are covered by their insurance; these are also required to be covered by private health insurance plans.
  • Those who are uninsured but eligible for Medicaid or CHP+ are able to apply for either insurance program now through April 30th during the state’s special enrollment period. Medicaid and CHP+ will cover testing, treatment and any other health care needs they may have (including behavioral health) at any time. To apply, please visit Colorado PEAK.
  • Lawfully residing immigrants who are uninsured and currently ineligible for Medicaid or CHP+ are also able to apply for coverage with financial assistance during this special enrollment period at Connect for Health Colorado.
  • Immigrants without proper documentation who are ineligible for other coverage programs can receive free testing at community health centers and will be able to apply for a special Medicaid program that will cover testing costs for any uninured Coloradan via Colorado PEAK.
  • Importantly, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that testing, treatment or preventive care related to COVID-19 will not impact public charge determinations.

Access these resources for further information:


Erica Manoatl

About Erica Manoatl

Erica Manoatl is the Research Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she supports the organization’s research priorities, data analysis, and writing in all issue areas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from George Washington University and a Master of Public Health in Population and Family Health from Columbia University.