COVID-19 Glossary of Terms - Minnesota Dept. of Health
As we learn more about COVID-19, recommendations and guidance are updated frequently. Please check back often.

COVID-19 Glossary of Terms

Updated 5/13/20

Clinically diagnosed
Doctors or other health care providers can decide that someone has the disease without testing for it. They do this by seeing if someone has signs of the disease. They also look at how likely it is for the person to have the disease.

Close contact
Spending time less than 6 feet from someone who has COVID-19 disease. The closer and longer you are with someone who has the disease, the bigger chance you have of getting it. It can matter if the person is coughing when you are close. People can have the disease without having signs of being sick. Close contact can mean being very near to people you live with who are infected; standing next to someone on a factory line who is infected; or eating lunch next to an infected co-worker. Contact is less when passing someone infected in a hallway at work.

Community mitigation
Things people can do to slow down how fast a virus spreads. COVID-19 and flu are caused by viruses. It can mean closing schools, restaurants, and other common spaces; asking employees to work from home; canceling large community events and gatherings; telling people to wear cloth masks in public; and asking that faith services be held virtually.

This means coming in contact with the virus. The virus is thought to spread when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes, or exhales. This is why people should stay at least 6 feet from each other. The virus can also get 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.

Flatten the curve
Flatten the curve means to slow down how many people get sick from the disease at the same time. This lowers the medical care and supplies needed at any one time. The lower need is spread out over a longer time. This makes it easier for sick people to get the medical care and supplies they need. People can help flatten the curve in many ways. They can stay 6 feet away from others; stop meeting in groups; wash their hands often; always cover their coughs; and stay home when sick.

High risk
Some people may get sicker than others because of their age and health. Ask your doctor or other health care provider if you have high risk for getting sicker from the disease. People with high risk may be older, people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions. Underlying medical conditions of particular concern include chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, conditions causing a person to be immunocompromised, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, and liver disease.

When someone with signs of the disease stays in one place away from others. The person cannot give the disease to someone else during the time the person stays away from others. People can give the disease to each other before they show signs of being sick. People who stay away from others after they feel sick may already have given the disease to others.

Lab-confirmed case
Someone that is tested for the disease and a lab proves that they have it.

A lot of people all over the world get sick fast from the same disease. A new virus that is easy for people to give to each other can cause a pandemic.

When someone who is not sick stays in one place away from others. The person stays away because they spent time close to someone with the disease. They wait to see if they get sick, too. They stay away from others because people can give the disease to each other before they show signs of being sick.

Social distancing
When people decide on their own to stay home as much as they can. If they go out, they stay at least 6 feet away from others. They do not go to areas where a lot of people are together. They wait to meet in groups, or they meet virtually. They follow what city and state leaders tell them about staying away from others.

Stay at home order
This is a government order. People are told to stay home. Staying apart helps to stop people from giving the disease to each other. People can go out to do some things, but they should wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Some things they can do are to get medical help; buy food, gasoline, and other supplies they need to live; go to work if their job is an essential service; wash their clothes; take a walk or get other outdoor exercise; and take care of family, friends, and pets.

Suspected case
A person who may have the disease. The person did not get a lab test, or the test did not prove they have the disease. The person shows signs of the disease and is someone who is likely to have it. A doctor or another health care provide may decide (diagnose) that the person has the disease.

Updated Wednesday, 20-Jan-2021 09:59:42 CST