Coronavirus FAQs

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What is coronavirus disease 19?

An outbreak called coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) that started in Wuhan, China, has now spread to multiple countries, including the United States. Health officials have confirmed cases in Minnesota and several other states.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most patients with confirmed coronavirus disease 19 infection have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some patients have had other symptoms including muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or diarrhea.

We consider any new infectious disease a serious concern and are taking precautions. 

What do I do if I have symptoms?

Follow the CDC's guidance to take care of yourself and keep from spreading coronavirus disease 19.

What is the risk for Minnesotans?

  • Health officials have confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. For up-to-date information on Minnesota cases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those who have been infected have had a range of illness severity from mild to severe. A very small percentage of those infected have died or had severe illness.
  • In addition to the health risk for individual Minnesotans, any widespread outbreak presents a potential for economic and social impacts.
  • There is much more to learn about how coronavirus disease 19 spreads and how common it is to have mild disease or severe disease. Investigations are ongoing.

What can Minnesotans do to protect themselves?

The best available guidance for avoiding coronavirus disease 19 is to take the same precautions you take for avoiding colds and flu:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you're sick.
  • Put distance (at least 6 feet) between yourself and other people when in public.
  • Stay informed. Visit the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites often.
  • Learn more about Sick and Safe Time. Sick and safe time is a law in Minneapolis protecting time off work.

How should I prepare?

As always, be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home. 

  • Keep enough food, regular prescription drugs and other necessities on hand in case you need to stay home and are not able to easily go out.
  • Make plans to care for sick household members and know what you’d do if there are school closures or child care program closures.

Check this guide for information and suggestions about how to prepare and how to care for yourself and your family before, during and after an emergency. (Click “Home Care Guide.”) Available in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali.

Is there a vaccine?

Research is underway for a vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 19 but is not expected for some time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide updates on its website.


What if I need help finding low-cost health care or insurance?

The Minnesota Department of Health has information about low-cost health care, insurance options and additional health care services in multiple languages.

Do I need to wear a mask?

At this point, the CDC does not recommend the use of face masks as a preventive measure for the general public. Face masks are typically used in clinical settings to prevent spread of diseases from ill patients to health care workers who are in close contact with them.

What are the recommendations for attending school, work or other community gatherings?

  • Based on what we know now about coronavirus disease 19 and what is known about its spread, the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Governor Walz have closed schools beginning March 18 through March 27 by executive order. Minneapolis Public Schools close March 17. Find out more on how this impacts Minneapolis Public Schools.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.
  • As always, we recommend that people stay home when sick, cover their cough, and practice good hand hygiene. These recommendations are especially important during cold and flu season.

What are the recommendations for travelers?

The CDC updates its travel advisories regularly. See “travelers health” for guidance that travelers or their families may want to know.

What advice do you have for people who have contact with others who recently traveled to locations with community spread?

  • You do not need to avoid contact with people who recently traveled to locations with community spread of coronavirus disease 19 if they do not have symptoms.
  • Avoid assumptions about who you think may be sick. Avoid prejudice or assuming that someone of a certain descent is more likely to have an illness.
  • Remember that we are still in cold and flu season. While coronavirus disease 19 symptoms may be similar to these more common infections, it is far more likely that anyone in Minnesota with respiratory symptoms is suffering from a cold or influenza.

How is coronavirus disease 19 treated?

While there is no specific treatment for illness caused by a coronavirus disease 19, many of the symptoms can be treated. Treatment is based on the patient’s condition. There is no vaccine for coronavirus disease 19.

What happens when cases are confirmed in Minnesota?

  • Finding cases quickly and responding to them effectively is key. Rapid response helps ensure the ill person receives the care they need and it lessens the chance of others getting sick.
  • Minnesota is fortunate to have a strong disease surveillance system in place that relies on partnerships between Minnesota Department of Health, local health departments, and hospital and clinic systems.
  • When testing confirms a case of coronavirus disease 19 in a Minnesota resident, the Minnesota Department of Health and partners work to isolate the ill person to prevent additional exposures and contact the people who already had close contact to monitor them for possible signs of illness. The patient also gets support such as groceries or errands if needed so they can stay isolated.

How is the City of Minneapolis preparing for the issue?

The Minnesota Department of Health is leading the statewide response to coronavirus disease 19. The City of Minneapolis is prepared and working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health to stay ready.

The City has:

  • Updated its emergency operations, pandemic, workforce and business continuity plans.
  • Coordinated a response team with City staff from the Health Department, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
  • Assessed public health supplies.
  • Coordinated information with partners within and outside the City organization.
  • Declared a local public health emergency.

How about a video showing me basic information?

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm offers basic information about coronavirus disease 19 and resources for additional information and updates.


This is a fluid situation; how can I stay up to date?

Last updated Mar 30, 2020



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