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Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19
It is up to us all to protect ourselves and others by following recommendations to prevent illness from COVID-19. No single action on its own can completely prevent you from getting sick, so it is best to do multiple things to protect yourself when and where you can.
Use the CDC: COVID-19 by County tool to check the COVID-19 hospital admission level in your area and learn what prevention measures are recommended for you. Hospital admission levels can be low, medium, or high; CDC updates county levels each week. If you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19, CDC gives more protective recommendations for you. Remember that COVID-19 transmission occurs at all levels, and a "low" level does not equal "no risk."
At all COVID-19 hospital admission levels:
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date to have the best protection. People 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated and receive at least one updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). Children 6 months through 5 years may need multiple doses. The number of doses a person may need varies by age, vaccine manufacturer, previous COVID-19 vaccines received, and if someone is immunocompromised. For more information on what staying up to date means for you, visit CDC: Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines.
- If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, wear a mask for 10 days following the close contact. Learn about masking, testing, and other recommended precautions at Close Contact or Exposure to COVID-19.
- Get tested. It is especially important to get tested if you have symptoms or were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Learn more about when and where to test at COVID-19 Testing.
- Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, stay home and away from others (isolate). Learn more at If You Are Sick or Test Positive.
- If you test positive and are at high risk for severe disease, find out right away about eligibility for treatment by contacting your health care provider or visiting COVID-19 Medications. You can find information on conditions that place people at higher risk of severe disease in the people at higher risk section below and at CDC: People with Certain Medical Conditions.
- Wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask when recommended or required. You can also choose to wear a mask when it makes you feel safer, regardless of your individual risk or the CDC COVID-19 hospital admission level for your county. Wear the most protective mask or respirator available to you that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
- When the hospital admission level is high, everyone should wear a mask in public settings.
- When the hospital admission level is medium, people who are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe illness should wear a mask indoors in public settings and may want to consider wearing a mask at the medium level in crowded outdoor settings. They also should consider wearing a mask in public settings even when the hospital admission level is low.
- When around someone who is immunocompromised or at high risk of severe illness, people should consider wearing a mask to protect them, regardless of the hospital admission level. They should also consider self-testing to detect infection before being around them.
- Learn more about recommendations for when to wear a mask and about the types of masks for better protection at Masks: COVID-19. You can also visit CDC: Types of Masks and Respirators for detailed information on types of masks and respirators.
- Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces, when possible, including opening windows and doors. For resources on improving ventilation, refer to the "Safer celebrations and gatherings" section below and to CDC: Improving Ventilation in Your Home.
- Wash your hands. Learn more at CDC: When and How to Wash Your Hands.
Additional guidance is at CDC: How to Protect Yourself and Others.
Safer celebrations and gatherings
In addition to the recommendations above, consider following the steps below to make your gatherings safer.
- Know the CDC: COVID-19 by County hospital admissions level where you are gathering and the recommended prevention strategies for that level.
- Gather outdoors or in an area with good ventilation. If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. As the COVID-19 hospital admission level rises, consider moving group activities outside. Learn more about how to improve airflow, ventilation, circulation, filtration, and more:
- Test on the day of an indoor gathering or event, as close to the time of the event as possible, especially if you will be around people who are immunocompromised, at higher risk of severe disease, or older adults. You should not attend any gathering if you have symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of the test result.
- Test immediately if you get symptoms following an event. If you had close contact with someone with COVID-19, test five full days after the event (test on day six). To learn what to do if you have symptoms, visit If You Are Sick or Test Positive: COVID-19. To learn what to do if you are exposed, visit Close Contact or Exposure to COVID-19.
- Travel safer. Refer to the travel section below.
People at increased risk of severe disease and those around them
Risk of severe illness increases with age, and people of any age who have underlying medical conditions may have a greater risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. People who are at an increased risk for severe disease include:
- People age 50 years and older (particularly those 65 years and older).
- People who have weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).
- People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes; cancer; chronic kidney; liver; lung or heart conditions; or who are obese or overweight.
- Pregnant and postpartum people.
- People with disabilities.
For more detailed information on medical conditions that place people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, visit CDC: People with Certain Medical Conditions.
If you are at high risk of severe disease, CDC and MDH recommend additional steps to protect yourself.
- Visit Masks: COVID-19 for recommendations on wearing a mask even if the COVID-19 hospital admission level is medium or low.
- Have a plan for rapid testing if you develop symptoms, for example, using a self-test at home. It is important to test right away when symptoms start. If your test is positive, contact your health care provider or visit COVID-19 Medications for information about treatment even if your symptoms are mild. Treatment should be started as soon as possible (within five to seven days, depending on the medication) from the start of symptoms.
- Avoid crowded spaces. When the hospital admission level is high, consider avoiding nonessential indoor activities in public places.
- Talk to your health care provider about whether you need to take other precautions.
- If you interact with someone who is immunocompromised or at high risk of severe disease, consider getting tested before you spend time with them, regardless of the COVID-19 hospital admission level.
You can build your personal COVID-19 plan, so you have all the information you need if you get sick. Download the plan at CDC: COVID-19 Plan (PDF).
People who are pregnant or were recently pregnant are at a greater risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 compared to nonpregnant people. People who have COVID-19 during pregnancy are also at an increased risk of having a preterm birth.
People who are pregnant and those who live with them should take steps to protect themselves from getting COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination, including a booster shot when due, is strongly recommended for people who are pregnant, recently pregnant, breastfeeding, and considering pregnancy in the future. For more information on vaccination and recommended precautions, visit About COVID-19 Vaccine and CDC: Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People.
Mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely, but a newborn could get COVID-19 after birth.
If you have COVID-19, try to find a healthy caregiver who is up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and not at higher risk for severe illness to care for your newborn. If you must care for your newborn before your isolation period ends, refer to recommendations at CDC: Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns if You Have COVID-19.
For additional guidance on staying safe while pregnant or postpartum, visit Breastfeeding During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
People with disabilities may have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19 and from complications related to COVID-19, or they may have particular concerns. Visit:
For more information, visit:
Travel can bring you into contact with people who are coming from areas with different levels of spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. Also, you may be in crowds and areas with poor ventilation. CDC recommends that you consider wearing a mask in crowded or poorly ventilated indoor areas during travel including on public transportation and in transportation hubs. Transportation hubs include airports, train stations, and bus stations.
Visit CDC's Travelers' Health COVID-19 for travel recommendations for masking, including after exposure to COVID-19; postponing travel when you are sick with COVID-19; and testing before, during, and after travel. Visit CDC: Masking During Travel for information on when masking is most useful during travel, including when a person is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe illness.
People who are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, should consider talking to a health care professional for specific recommendations before deciding to travel.
Resources include supporting mental well-being during COVID-19. If someone you know is in crisis, use the Crisis Text Line by texting MN to 741741.