Polk County Public Health is Here to Answer Your COVID-19 Questions!

Call 218-281-3385

Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

COVID-19 Minnesota Department of Health Hotlines

Health questions: (651) 201-3920 or (800) 657-3903
School and Child Care questions: (651) 297-1304  or (800) 657-3504
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 days a week)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and Polk County Public Health are monitoring COVID-19 (coronavirus) closely. 

For the most up to date information changes, follow CDC and MDH.


What is COVID-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. 

How severe is COVID-19? 

  • 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 such high risk conditions as 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, neurological conditions. Check with your health care provider to see if you are considered high risk. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • According to CDC, patients with confirmed COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of: 
    • fever
    • cough   
    • shortness of breath
  • Some patients have had other symptoms including muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or diarrhea.
  • These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

How does COVID-19 spread? 

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  
    •  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 (when they are asymptomatic); there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.        
    • The virus spreads most easily when a person has symptoms and is coughing or sneezing. 

What to do to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. 

If you are travelling, check the CDC’s travel guidance website for the most up to date information.