The Color Code

Public health best practices tell us that the best way to combat COVID19, is through physical distancing.  In worst case scenarios, when a person is sick, it will require quarantine. In this way, we can “flatten the curve” and prevent hundreds of millions of people from being infected with the Coronavirus and over a million deaths in the US alone. To win against this disease we will need doctors and scientists, but we will also need each other. We also know that we can’t at least for the time being go about business as usual.  Adhering to a new way of being, changing our everyday life and creating distance from one another will be required in order to care for each other and ensure that we save each other.

When we look at our history when we pull our collective strength to help our neighbors, our elders, our family members through the most difficult times we are stronger in combating crises.. In isolation we flail and flounder. We know that when we are sick and alone, we become sicker.

In this moment, to do this we must find new ways to break through isolation. New ways to stay in communication and to work together in this crisis.

Color codes or hanky codes have a history in the United States in the LGBTQ community, for folks to identify safely. We also know color codes or marking have a painful history as well, this effort is to celebrate and practice community care but we wanted to acknowledge that this history comes with pride and pain.

We are with the spirit of our elders in taking radical community care.


Since physical distancing is the best way (and washing your hands!) to slow down the spread of Coronavirus, many people will be in their homes. There are not many ways to communicate with folks however the use of colors outside of people’s homes, apartments and doors can allow folks to identify who needs to help and who can offer help.

This document is a way for people to color code and assess people’s situations. This is a living document and as the community adapts this document will as well. These can be communicated through flags, placards, signs, fabrics whatever you have in your own home.

People may also cut up these colors into squares and wear them if they must go outside.

For colorblind individuals, you can write on a post it note, a sign or a flag the name of the color below to correspond with what you need to signal to your community.

Traditional & Simplified Chinese Version here 

Other Asian Languages including Chinese, Hmong, Tagalog, Hindi, Gujarati, Nepali and Indonesian here

Green-Show unity and solidarity in this time by placing the color green outside your home. We are in this together and only through unity, making decisions for the common good will we make it through.

Yellow - If you see the color yellow, outside one's home that means that there are people inside who are in isolation because they have signs of illness, have traveled or, were told medically that they need to be isolated from the outside world.

Blue - Two of the most vulnerable populations are those with preexisting health problems and elders. Having a blue symbol means you have a health issue that makes you vulnerable to Coronavirus and/or someone elderly is in the home.

White - Many people may be in need of extra supplies in the coming days, as store sellout of essentials and populations might go without pay, we are asking folks who may have extra supplies to indicate that by putting the color white outside of their homes.

Red - Many people may be in need of supplies but can’t leave because of a variety of issues. If you are in need of supplies place the color red outside your home or wear it as a square.

Purple - People with disabilities might need help or someone just to check in, if you put purple outside your home or wear it as a square, it will indicate that someone with disabilities is inside.

To submit more colors or other forms of communication like symbols, please fill out google form here.

Shareable Graphics in English, Spanish and Greyscale: