- COVID-19 is an infectious disease.
- The disease is caused by a coronavirus not found in people before.
- As doctors and scientists continue to gather new information, it is important to take COVID-19 seriously. We do not yet know all of the negative effects it may have.
- It is important to keep working to slow the spread of the virus, even if you are fully vaccinated, by staying home when you feel sick, staying 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask in crowded places, covering your coughs and sneezes, and washing your hands often and well.
- For more information on symptoms, see CDC: Symptoms of Coronavirus.
We are still learning more about the new virus and will share new information when we have it.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Key Messages
Basic overview of COVID-19 in multiple languages.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, congestion, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after you are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any symptoms.
- Even after recovering from COVID-19, some people may have lingering symptoms such as fatigue, cough, or joint pain. The long-term health effects are still unknown but there may be permanent damage to the heart, lungs, or other organs. This is more likely in those who had more severe illness but may also be possible even in those who had mild illness.
- Talk to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about symptoms.
How it spreads
- COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
- Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
- Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
- Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them. It is important to wash your hands before you touch your mouth, nose, face, or eyes.
- People can spread the COVID-19 disease to each other.
- Infected people may be able to spread the disease before they have symptoms or feel sick.
- A person can also spread the disease if they have no symptoms. Research has shown that around 40-50% of people infected do not develop symptoms.
For more information, see CDC: How COVID-19 Spreads.
- Variants are common with a virus like COVID-19. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time.
- Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating globally, and in the United States. Several of these variants have been identified and are spreading in Minnesota.
- MDH and our partners are actively testing new positive test samples to continue to detect variants and learn more.
- These variants are concerning because they are more contagious. Early data shows that the B.1.1.7 variant spreads more easily and can be as much as 50% more contagious than the original virus. Currently, the B.1.1.7 variant is the most common in Minnesota.
- There is also concern some variants may be associated with more severe disease and a higher death rate compared to other variants. More research is needed to confirm these findings and what it will mean for vaccination efforts.
- Continue to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is important to get vaccinated, wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid gatherings, wash your hands often, and stay home if you feel sick or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- Variants developing around the world can spread to new places when people travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. Visit CDC: International Travel During COVID-19.
- Because variants can spread more easily, it is important to get tested when recommended. Visit COVID-19 Testing.
For more information, visit CDC: About Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19.
- Many people with COVID-19 have mild illness. However, anyone can become severely ill from this virus.
- Risk for severe illness increases with age. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among people 85 or older.
- People of any age who have underlying medical conditions may have a greater risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
- See CDC: People at Increased Risk for guidance on which underlying medical conditions put people at an increased risk or who should be extra careful.
- Ask your health care provider if you have greater risk of getting sicker from COVID-19.
- For more information, see:
Prevention and treatment
- About COVID-19 Vaccine
Information about who can get vaccinated, how to get vaccinated, and more.
- If You Are Sick: COVID-19
What to do if you are sick and information on going to the doctor.
- Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19
How to slow the spread, including information on masks and cloth face coverings and cleaning your home.
Physical health effects
- The virus that causes COVID-19 can affect people in different ways. Some can get very sick, while most have mild or moderate symptoms and get better without going to a clinic or into a hospital. Some have no symptoms. Some people die.
- Some people are in the hospital for weeks. Some may need to be put on a ventilator in order to breathe and survive. Some may need to be put on a heart-lung bypass machine. The virus that causes COVID-19 has been linked to increased:
- Blood clotting
- Heart damage
- Other organ damage
- The long-term health effects are still unknown but there may be permanent damage to the heart, lungs, or other organs. This is more likely in those who had more severe illness but may also be possible even in those who had mild illness.
- New evidence shows that COVID-19 can also lead to health problems in children. More research is needed to better understand how the virus may cause short and long-term illness. See CDC: Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 for more information.
- More information:
- Nervous system damage:
Neurologic Manifestations of Hospitalized Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wuhan, China
- Heart damage:
The Harvard Gazette: Coronavirus and the heart
- Risks for pregnant women and infants:
Neonatal Early-Onset Infection With SARS-CoV-2 in 33 Neonates Born to Mothers With COVID-19 in Wuhan, China
- New complications in children:
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome In Children (MIS-C)
- Possible sexual transmission:
Clinical Characteristics and Results of Semen Tests Among Men With Coronavirus Disease 2019
- Nervous system damage:
Other health effects
- COVID-19 disease can cause more than physical health problems. COVID-19 is a continuing threat to the personal, financial, and mental well-being of Minnesotans. This stress can lead to health problems. COVID-19 can cause stress when people:
- Must be in the hospital.
- Lose their jobs or cannot go to work.
- Do not have money to pay bills.
- Are separated from family and friends.
Resources include supporting mental well-being during COVID-19. If someone you know is in crisis, use Crisis Text Line by texting MN to 741741.