About COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health

About COVID-19

On this page:
COVID-19 disease
How it spreads
Many unknowns

COVID-19 disease

  • COVID-19 is an infectious disease.
  • The disease is caused by a coronavirus not found in people before.
  • It causes viral respiratory illness.
  • We are still learning about the new virus. We do not know yet:
    • How sick it may make different people.
    • How well it passes between people.
    • Other features the new coronavirus may have.
  • We will share more information when we have it.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Key Messages
Basic overview of COVID-19 in multiple languages.

How it spreads

  • People can spread the COVID-19 disease to each other.
  • The disease is thought to spread by nose and mouth droplets when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes or exhales.
  • The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. It may be possible for people to breathe the droplets into their lungs. It is important to stay 6 feet away from other people in public. At home, someone who is sick should stay alone, in one room, as much as possible.
  • Droplets can land on surfaces and objects that other people then touch. It is important to wash your hands before you touch your mouth, nose, face or eyes. Clean surfaces that are touched often. Clean surfaces often if someone in the house is sick.
  • 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.


  • Many people with COVID-19 have mild illness. However, anyone can become severely ill from this virus.
  • Based on current information and experience:
    • 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 those aged 85 or older.
    • People of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may have a greater risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
    • See CDC: People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions for guidance for people at increased risk or who should be extra careful.
    • Ask your health care provider if you have greater risk of getting sicker.
  • For more information, see:


  • COVID-19 has no known specific treatment.
  • Rest and drink lots of liquids.
  • If your symptoms get worse and you need a doctor, call your clinic or an emergency room before you go there.

Many unknowns

As doctors and scientists continue to gather new information, it is important to take COVID-19 seriously. We know some of the negative effects it can have, but 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 by staying home when you can, staying 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask, covering your coughs and sneezes, and washing your hands often and well.

Physical health effects

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.

What MDH is doing


Updated Tuesday, 08-Sep-2020 17:17:00 CDT