Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health
On Feb. 16, 2021, we updated our Close Contacts and Tracing quarantine guidance to align with recent CDC public health recommendations for vaccinated persons. Other materials will be updated as quickly as possible.

Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19

On this page:
Slow the spread
Masks and face coverings
COVID-19 vaccine
Flu vaccine
Other resources

Slow the spread


Hands and face

    • Wash your hands often, with soap and water. Wash for at least 20 seconds.
    • Always wash your hands after being in a public place.
    • Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
    • Use hand sanitizers on the hands only. Never use them on larger body surfaces, and never swallow or breathe them in.
    • Do not make hand sanitizers into something you can spray into the air. This is dangerous to your health and can catch fire.
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Throw used tissues in the trash.
Indoor Air Considerations: COVID-19
General considerations for airflow, ventilation, circulation, and more.
Updated 1/22/21

Masks and face coverings

Face coverings, often called masks, can help stop your germs from infecting others. Research has shown that wearing masks reduces the risk of infection, especially when combined with other prevention efforts such as washing your hands often and staying 6 feet away from others.

As of July 25, 2020, per the Governor's Executive Order, people in Minnesota are required to wear a face covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, unless you are alone.

How masks work

  • The virus which causes COVID-19 is thought to be mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. Wearing a mask stops these droplets from spreading to others. This is extra important because around 40-50% of people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still spread the virus. 
  • Wearing a mask does not mean people who are sick should be in public. Stay home if you are sick unless you need to seek medical care.

Who should wear a mask

  • Everyone who can wear a mask should.
    • Even if you've had COVID-19, you should still wear a mask because we do not know if people can get sick with COVID-19 again.
  • Do not put masks or face covers on children under age 2.
  • Do not put masks or face covers on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or is unable to remove the mask without help.
  • People with disabilities or special health needs may not be able to wear a mask.

How to wear a mask

  • Wash your hands before putting on your mask and after taking it off.
  • Cover your nose and mouth and try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Keep the mask on your face the whole time you are out. Don't put the mask around your neck or on your forehead.
  • Wash your mask after each time you wear it.
  • How to Safely Wear Your Mask (PDF)
    Poster for download and printing.
  • Videos for COVID-19 Response: see How to Safely Wear Your Mask and COVID-19 Mask Do's and Don'ts
  • Considerations for Face Shields (PDF)

Types of masks

  • Types of face coverings can include a paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a scarf, a bandanna, or a religious face covering.
  • Wear masks with two or more layers of tightly woven fabric to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Other face coverings that are a thinner, single-layer of fabric, or are made of paper should only be used if nothing else is available.
  • MDH does not recommend the use of N95 respirators for protection against COVID-19 in non-healthcare settings because N95 respirators should be reserved for health care workers. In addition, wearing an N95 requires formal fit-testing in a health care setting to ensure the respirator forms an appropriate seal to provide adequate respiratory protection for the user.
  • Do not wear a mask with a valve because it allows droplets to be released from the mask.


  • Keep your house very clean to stay healthy. This can help stop infections from spreading.
  • Clean and disinfect things that people touch a lot: counters and other surfaces; telephones, remote controls and other devices; doorknobs, stairway railings and other objects.
  • Always follow instructions on household cleaners. Do not drink, breathe in, or inject household cleaners. This can hurt or kill you. Call poison control or a doctor immediately if you drink a cleaning product.
  • Do not use disinfectant sprays or wipes on your skin or on pets. This can hurt your skin and your pets.


Considerations before traveling

Given the high level of COVID-19 spread in our communities, any unnecessary travel is highly discouraged. If you must travel outside the state or country for work, study, medical care, or personal safety and security, do what you can to protect yourself and your family.

Before you travel, think about:

  • How much COVID-19 is spreading where you are going and how much it is spreading in your local community.
  • Whether you or someone you are traveling with could get very sick from COVID-19.
  • How easy or difficult it will be to keep 6 feet between people.
  • Whether you would be able to miss work, school, or other activities if you get sick.

For more tips and things to consider when traveling, see CDC: Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

If you must travel

Protect yourself and others during your trip:

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  • Keep 6 feet of space between yourself and others.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Bring enough of your medications to last the entire trip.
  • Consider packing food or picking up food from the store, drive-throughs, or curbside pickup.

Students returning home for school breaks are strongly encouraged to follow the recommendations available at Institutes of Higher Education.

Travel to or from Minnesota

If you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19, do not travel.

Out-of-state travel is highly discouraged.

  • People visiting or returning from travel out of state are asked to stay away from others (quarantine) for 14 days after they arrive in Minnesota, even people who have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • During those 14 days, it is important that you stay home and watch for symptoms. If you must go out, wear a mask, stay 6 feet from other people, and wash your hands often.
  • Staying away from others for 14 days is safest. In some circumstances, a shortened quarantine period may be possible. For more information, see Close Contacts and Tracing and Quarantine Guidance for COVID-19 (PDF).
  • If you are close to someone with COVID-19 during travel, follow guidelines for how long to keep away from others (quarantine).
  • For information on testing, visit Getting Tested for COVID-19.

Visit CDC: Travel for more information about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

For international travel, follow federal guidelines.

The CDC now requires all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from another country to get tested for COVID-19 no more than three days before their flight departs. Travelers will need to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.

For more information on this testing requirement, see the CDC: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States.

Visit U.S. Department of State: Travel and CDC: COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination for more information. If you are a non-U.S. resident looking to travel to Minnesota, contact your country's embassy in the United States for additional guidance.

COVID-19 vaccine

There are two COVID-19 vaccines currently available. Because there is a limited number of vaccine doses available at first, COVID-19 vaccination will take a phased approach. This means starting vaccination with the people who are most likely to get COVID-19 and those most at risk of serious complications. Updates will be provided when we are able to start vaccinating more people. We will also provide more information at that time for how eligible people can get vaccinated.

A vaccine for COVID-19 is only one of the ways to stop the spread of the disease. Because the supply of vaccine will be limited at first, doing other things to help stop the spread is still very important. Everyone, whether you have been vaccinated or not, still needs to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet away from others, wash your hands a lot, and stay home if you are sick.

For more information, see COVID-19 Vaccine.

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine will not protect you from COVID-19. However, like COVID-19, the flu is a respiratory illness that can make people very sick. The flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu and prevent you from passing it to people who could get very sick from flu, such as older family and friends or people with underlying medical conditions. It is possible to get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, but we don’t know yet how often that could happen. That’s why it’s important to take steps to prevent both diseases.

If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before you get your flu vaccine.

For more information on flu, including where to get vaccinated, visit Influenza (Flu).

Other resources

Updated Friday, 19-Feb-2021 16:37:17 CST