Testing and COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is coronavirus disease 19?
- COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that has not been found in people before.
- Because this is a new virus, there are still things we do not know, such as how severe the illness can be, how well it is transmitted between people, and other features of the virus. More information will be provided when it is available.
Symptoms of COVID-19
- Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell.
- These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.
- Many cases have mild or moderate illness and do not require a clinic visit and most do not require hospitalization.
- Those at highest risk for severe illness include older people or those that have certain underlying health conditions. These include high-risk conditions like a blood disorder, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, compromised immune system, late term or recent pregnancy, endocrine disorders, metabolic disorders, heart disease, lung disease and neurological conditions. Check with your health care provider to see if you are considered high risk.
How does it spread?
- It spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- It is also possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. Washing your hands and cleaning frequently touched surfaces often is a good way to prevent you from getting COVID-19 from touching surfaces.
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.
What do I do if I have symptoms?
What is the risk for Minnesotans?
- For up-to-date information on Minnesota cases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those who have been infected have had a range of illness severity from mild to severe. A small percentage of those infected have died or had severe illness.
- In addition to the health risk for individual Minnesotans and the potential to overwhelm our health care system, the widespread outbreak has economic and social impacts.
- There is much more to learn about how coronavirus disease 19 spreads and how common it is to have mild disease or severe disease. Investigations are ongoing.
What can Minnesotans do to protect themselves and each other?
The best available guidance for avoiding virus and spreading it is to take the same precautions you take for avoiding colds and flu:
- Stay home when you're sick. And even if you seem well, stay home unless you absolutely need to leave.
- Wear a mask when in public indoor spaces.
- Put distance (at least 6 feet) between yourself and other people when in public.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your cough and sneeze. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Stay informed. Visit the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites often.
- Learn more about Sick and Safe Time. Sick and safe time is a law in Minneapolis protecting time off work.
How should I prepare?
As always, be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home.
- Keep enough food, regular prescription drugs and other necessities on hand in case you need to stay home and are not able to easily go out for a couple weeks.
- Make plans to care for yourself or sick household members.
Check this guide for information and suggestions about how to prepare and how to care for yourself and your family before, during and after an emergency. (Click “Home Care Guide.”) Available in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali.
Is there a vaccine?
What if I need help finding low-cost health care or insurance?
The Minnesota Department of Health has information about low-cost health care, insurance options and additional health care services in multiple languages.
What are the current orders to keep the virus from spreading?
Follow the Minnesota Department of Health or the governor’s COVID-19 website to stay up to date on government orders to save lives and try to keep the spread of coronavirus disease 19 from overwhelming our health care system.
What advice do you have for people who associate this illness with certain groups of people
- Avoid assumptions or stereotypes about who you think may be sick. Avoid prejudice or assuming that someone of a certain descent is more likely to have an illness.
- Blaming a certain group of people for this virus is harmful and inaccurate.
- Viruses do not discriminate, and neither should we.
- Everyone plays a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and in preventing discrimination in our communities.
- Call 311 to report discrimination to the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. Always call 911 in an emergency.
How is coronavirus disease 19 treated?
While there is no specific treatment for illness caused by a coronavirus disease 19, many of the symptoms can be treated. Treatment is based on the patient’s condition. There is no vaccine for coronavirus disease 19.
What happens when cases are confirmed in Minnesota?
- Minnesota is fortunate to have a strong disease surveillance system in place that relies on partnerships between Minnesota Department of Health, local health departments, and hospital and clinic systems.
- When testing confirms a case of coronavirus disease 19 in a Minnesota resident, the Minnesota Department of Health and partners work to isolate the ill person to prevent additional exposures and contact the people who already had close contact to monitor them for possible signs of illness. The patient also gets support such as groceries or errands if needed so they can stay isolated.
How is the City of Minneapolis responding to the presence of coronavirus disease 19?
The Minnesota Department of Health is leading the statewide response to coronavirus disease 19. The City of Minneapolis is working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health to respond.
The City has:
- Declared a local public health emergency.
- Coordinated a vigorous response with staff from the City Health Department, Office of Emergency Management, Police Department, Fire Department, Community Planning & Economic Development, Neighborhood & Community Relations, and Communications.
- Provided limited personal protective equipment to health care and first responders.
- Coordinated information with partners within and outside the City organization including Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and Hennepin County.
- Worked with affected businesses to ensure compliance with the governor’s and mayor’s executive orders.
- Determined needs, shared technical guidance, and connected resources with more than 120 community partners.
- Planned for alternative care sites, which are existing buildings to convert to care facilities for less critical patients so those needing more critical care can remain in hospitals.
- Helped collect and share information on available beds and supplies.
- Launched a donations management unit to match community needs with donation offers.
This is a fluid situation; how can I stay up to date?
Who should get tested?
- People who do not have symptoms should generally not be tested for COVID-19.
- The people who should be tested now are people who have symptoms of COVID-19, especially hospitalized patients, health care workers, patients and staff in congregate care settings, dialysis and other patients including outpatients.
- The Minnesota Department of Health may also recommend that people get tested in certain situations, such as a setting where an outbreak is occurring.
- Use the Minnesota Department of Health's screening tool to determine if you should be tested for COVID-19.
Where to get tested
- Call your doctor or clinic before going in. Tell them about your symptoms and they will give you instructions to help protect you and other patients.
- Most clinics and hospitals across the state have the ability to collect samples (specimens) for lab testing.
- Find free testing events in Minneapolis. Everyone is welcome.
- Find testing locations in Minnesota.
Anyone who attends a large gathering such as a community cleanup, vigil or protest is encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 five-seven days after the event.
Getting test results
- The clinic that did your testing will get the results to you.
- It can take several days for test results to come back.
- Do not call the Minnesota Department of Health to get your test results.
What if I test positive?
- See the Minnesota Department of Health website for guidance.
If you’ve had a positive COVID-19 test – or if someone you’ve been in close contact with has – you may have been told to isolate or quarantine so you don’t get other people sick. Here’s how to do that. Watch this video in English, Spanish, Somali or Hmong.
Wear a cloth mask to help keep your neighbors safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Wearing masks in public indoor places is required by a local Emergency Regulation and a State Executive Order.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
- Exceptions: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- Do not wear medical-grade or surgical masks. Those are in high need in health care facilities to protect health care workers.
- Masks or cloth face coverings can help with preventing your germs from infecting others – especially in situations where you may spread the virus without symptoms.
- Wearing a mask does not protect you from others who may spread the virus. You still need to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough, and practice physical distancing by keeping at least 6 feet of space between people.
- See an infographic on using masks
Where am I required to wear a mask in Minneapolis?
Effective May 26, 2020, people over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask or cloth face covering in indoor spaces of public accommodation under Mayor Frey’s executive regulation.
- All employers of businesses that are spaces of public accommodation are required to have employees wear a cloth face covering whenever such employees have face-to-face contact with the public.
- A space of public accommodation is defined as a business, or an educational, refreshment, entertainment, or recreation facility, or an institution of any kind, whether licensed or not, whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations are extended, offered, sold, or otherwise made available to the public. (Examples include retail stores, rental establishments, government buildings, and service establishments as well as educational institutions, recreational facilities, and service centers.)
- Beginning June 1, limited outdoor dining will be allowed at restaurants and bars. Employees at bars and restaurants are required to wear masks. Customers have an equally important role in reducing the spread of COVID-19, therefore it is imperative that customers that are not eating or drinking, whether indoor or outdoor, are also wearing a mask.
- Violations of the mayor’s emergency regulation should be reported to 311.
- The City will focus on providing education to residents and businesses. Inspectors will respond to complaints, provide education and resources. A violation of the emergency regulation may be enforced by the issuance of a warning letter(s), administration citation, and/or misdemeanor prosecution.
Governor Walz issued an Executive Order July 22 mandating masks State-wide.
Wearing a cloth mask is a matter of race equity.
A disproportionate share of essential, frontline workers are low-income and people of color who are already experiencing higher rates of infection – wearing a mask will help keep more workers and customers safe.
We need to create a new normal where we all take additional steps to protect public health.
- As the State of Minnesota continues relaxing regulations, it’s important for local governments to make rules responsive to their unique needs. Governor Walz issued an Executive Order July 22 mandating masks State-wide.
- Minneapolis faces unique challenges as the state’s largest, densest and most active city, making it all the more important for people to be disciplined about wearing masks.
Online resources provide guidance on wearing and making your own mask.
- Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Minnesota Department of Health video on COVID-19 mask do’s and don’ts.
- Governor Walz issued an Executive Order July 22 mandating masks State-wide.
- Hennepin County videos on using, making and wearing cloth masks in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong.
Masks required signs for building entrances
City resources for mask distribution.
- The City of Minneapolis has at times, a very limited supply of cloth masks for public distribution, particularly for vulnerable populations.
Last updated Oct 16, 2020