Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance that shortens quarantine in certain situations. CDC: Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is reviewing the CDC guidance and will make recommendations over the next few days. We will update all documents to reflect any changes.

For the time being, people should continue to follow the current MDH guidelines, including to stay home (quarantine) for 14 days if exposed to COVID-19. Close Contacts and Tracing

Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19

On this page:
Slow the spread
Masks and face coverings
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 11/23/20

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 will be 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 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 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.
  • Do not buy or wear surgical or N95 masks. Health care workers need them so that they are protected when helping sick patients.
  • 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

Out-of-state travel is highly discouraged. Incoming visitors and Minnesotans who travel out-of-state are asked to stay home (quarantine) for 14 days. During those 14 days, it is important that you stay home and watch for symptoms. For information on testing, visit Find Testing Locations. If you have to go somewhere, wear a mask, stay 6 feet from people, and wash your hands often.

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

International travel

For international travel, follow federal guidelines. 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 vaccine

Several COVID-19 vaccines are in development. They are going through different studies and checks (called clinical trials) to make sure they are safe, and that they work, before they are given to the public.

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. 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.

With both the flu and COVID-19 circulating this fall and winter, we want to do everything we can to keep Minnesotans healthy so we do not overwhelm our health care system.

  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year unless they cannot because of medical reasons.
  • People most at risk for complications from flu: 
    • People age 65 and older.
    • Children under 5 years.
    • Pregnant women.
    • People with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
    • American Indian and Alaska Native.

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 Wednesday, 02-Dec-2020 18:28:56 CST