How to minimize risks

Stop the Spread poster image

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 or transmitting it to others?

A: The most most effective ways to reduce risk when gathering with others are:

·       Keep a distance of 6 feet or more from people you don’t live with.  

·       Wear a 2-ply face mask that fits well - no gaps! The latest guidelines from the CDC advise making sure your mask has a tight fit and even layering two masks together.

·       Meet outdoors. If that’s not possible, meet indoors in a well-ventilated area. 

It is important to take these precautions even if you show no symptoms – the virus can be contagious before symptoms appear.

The latest research suggests that the coronavirus is transmitted through droplets in the air much more than from contaminated surfaces. This means that you do not need to disinfect groceries or other objects before they come into your home. However, it is still very important to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

If you take all of these precautions, your risk of COVID-19 will be low. Overall, the most important thing to do is to avoid contact with people you don’t live with. 

Q: How can I make shared indoor spaces as safe as possible?

A: From the Minnesota Department of Health: “Managing indoor air will not stop the spread of COVID-19 by itself, but it can lower the number of people infected when people also wear a face covering; stay at least 6 feet from others who are not household members; have good hand hygiene; clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot; and take any other steps to control and stop infection.”

Some ways to keep indoor spaces safer include:

  • Bringing in fresh outdoor air as much as possible (opening windows and doors, pulling air out of the room with fans and air conditioners, etc.)
  • Keep the relative humidity low - between 40% and 60% in warm weather and lower in the winter.
  • Keep as few people in the room as possible. A good guideline is about 50 square feet of space per person.
  • Consider using rooms with high ceilings that have more space for anything in the air to move around and thin out.

Many more detailed suggestions can be found at https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/indoorair.html

For guidelines on safer ways to celebrate holidays or connect with others, see this page from MDH.

Q: How can I reduce my risk of becoming infected at work?

A: See the “What We Can Do” section of the Forward Together guide for information on your rights as a worker and ways to make your work environment safer.

If you do not feel that your employer is providing a safe work environment, you can submit an anonymous complaint to the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MNOSHA) and they will follow up with the facility within 2-3 business days. You can submit a complaint online at this link or call their complaint number at 651-284-5050.

Q: Who is at a higher risk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following groups have been identified with higher risk of getting very sick from this illness:

  • Older adults
  • People with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of serious COVID-19 for individuals of any age also include:

  • Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or is under treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis.
  • Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because liver disease or is under treatment for liver disease.
  • Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing a doctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS).
  • Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks.
  • Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus).
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders).
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease).
  • Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditions associated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen.
  • Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].

If you fall into one of the categories listed above, you are strongly encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing as recommended by the MDH. 

Q: Are people with HIV at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 than other people?

A: According to the CDC, “we are still learning about COVID-19 and how it affects people with HIV. Based on limited data, we believe people with HIV who are on effective HIV treatment have the same risk for COVID-19 as people who do not have HIV.

The risk for people with HIV getting very sick is greatest in

  • People with a low CD4 cell count, and
  • People not on effective HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy or ART).”

CDC recommendations on HIV and COVID-19

See our COVID-19 and Living With HIV page for more.

Q: What should I do if I suspect I have been exposed to COVID-19?

A: The most important step in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is to quarantine (stay away from others as much as possible) if you believe you have been exposed to the virus. For months, CDC had recommended a quarantine period of 14 days for people exposed to someone with COVID-19. That guideline has been updated as of December 2 to allow for 10- or 7-day quarantine periods under certain circumstances. 

You should stay away from others for 14 days if:

  • Someone in your home has COVID-19.
  • You live in a building with other people, where it’s hard to stay away from others and easy to spread the virus to multiple people, like a long-term care facility.

You may consider being around others after 10 days if:

  • You do not have any symptoms.
  • You have not had a positive test for COVID-19.
  • No one in your home has COVID-19, and you do not live in a building with other people, where it’s hard to stay away from others and easy to spread the virus to multiple people, like a long-term care facility.

Even after 10 days you must still:

  • Watch for symptoms through day 14. If you have any symptoms, stay home, separate yourself from others, and get tested right away.
  • Continue to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

You may consider being around others after seven days only if:

  • You get tested for COVID-19 at least five full days after you had close contact with someone with COVID-19, and the test is negative.
  • You do not have any symptoms.
  • You have not had a positive test for COVID-19.
  • No one in your home has COVID-19, and you do not live in a building with other people, where it’s hard to stay away from others and easy to spread the virus to multiple people, like a long-term care facility.

Even after seven days you must still:

  • Watch for symptoms through day 14. If you have any symptoms, stay home, separate yourself from others, and get tested right away.
  • Continue to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

You cannot end your quarantine before seven days for any reason.

Source: CDC website

 

Helpful Links:

 

Page last updated on February 4, 2021.