Minnesota Department of Health IHE COVID-19 Updates: Holiday Resources
Strategies for a Healthy & Safe Holiday Season
Holiday traditions are important. Anytime you gather with others, the risk of infection increases for everyone. There are many ways to enjoy holiday traditions AND protect your health. Below are safer ways to celebrate this winter.
- Get vaccinated and boosted. Make sure you and your family are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. And it’s a good time to get your flu vaccine, too!
- Check the CDC COVID-19 community level by county before you travel and follow recommendations based on the level.
- Consider COVID-19 testing before gathering, particularly if there will be people there who are at higher risk for severe disease.
- Wash your hands often.
- Stay home if you are feeling sick.
Minnesota’s hospitalization numbers are higher than we’d like to see this flu season and COVID-19 booster rates aren’t as high as they should be. Get more tips to help make your gatherings safer at Protect Yourself and Others: COVID-19.
Staying Well for the Winter Holidays
Considerations for travel are similar to those for safe gatherings. In addition to the recommendations for safe gatherings above, consider taking the following steps to make your holiday travel safer.
- Get vaccinated and boosted when you are eligible.
- Know the COVID-19 community level of where you are traveling and the recommended prevention strategies for that level.
- Lay low before you go. A couple of weeks before gatherings or travel, try to avoid activities (like crowded indoor public events) where you would be more likely to be exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- At all community levels, CDC recommends wearing a high-quality mask or respirator on public transportation (examples: airplane, train, and bus), and in transportation hubs (examples: an airport, train station, and bus station). Visit CDC: Wearing Masks in Travel and Public Transportation Settings for more information.
- Test immediately if you get symptoms. If you had close contact with someone with COVID-19, test five full days after the event (test on day six). 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.
The CDC’s Travel page provides additional recommendations and requirements (e.g., testing, when to delay travel, and more) for before, during, and after travel.
International Travel Resources
People who are planning to travel soon should take a moment to check out our updated International Travel & Infectious Disease site. The webpages contain resources on how to plan a safer trip abroad and what to do before, during, and after an international trip.
For IHE community members traveling internationally, our Materials and Resources: International Travel & Infectious Disease page contains posters, handouts, and videos on topics related to travel. You can find materials on preventing the spread of COVID-19, tips on what to do if your travel medication is too expensive, and videos and flyers on how to stay safe when traveling abroad in a variety of different languages.
Statewide COVID-19 Community Levels
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 community levels, the majority of Minnesota counties are within the Low category (green) and there are now 11 counties in the Medium transmission category (yellow).
See Minnesota’s COVID-19 Community levels by county on the MDH Situation Update for COVID-19.
This map reflects COVID-19 community levels calculated on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022.
Cases, Hospitalizations, COVID-19 Variants
For the week of November 6-12, the statewide rate of cases was 84.1 per 100,000. This is based on the county rates reflected in the map on the left below.
For the same time period, the statewide hospitalization rate was 7.9 hospitalizations per 100,000. See the map above, on the right, for county level rates.
Case rates, hospitalizations, and variant data are updated weekly.
From October 9-22, 2022, the BA.5 subvariant made up about 75% of cases in Minnesota. For the same time frame, the BA.4.6 subvariants made up about 9% of cases in the state.
For the period November 6-12, 2022, the CDC Nowcast estimates suggests the following:
- Around 35% of cases are caused by the BA.5 subvariant in HHS Region 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI). That percentage is expected to decrease.
- BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are predicted to increase proportionately to 21% and 16%, respectively.
- BA.4.6 and BF.7 are predicted to show little change in proportion relative to other subvariants.
The state-level metrics below include all doses administered to Minnesotans and reported to MIIC as of November 15, 2022. Doses administered by Tribal Health/IHS are included in the state-level metrics if the person vaccinated lives in Minnesota.
Vaccination data by county is also available in the COVID-19 Situation Update.
For more information on each of the data sets above, see Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Situation Update for COVID-19.
Free COVID-19 Tests
Free at-home rapid tests are again available to all Minnesota households in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday through the state’s online ordering program!
Minnesotans who have previously ordered tests are again able to receive four additional tests per household at order your free at-home rapid tests on mn.gov/covid19.
At-home rapid tests help detect the virus that causes COVID-19. You can do the nasal swab test anywhere and get results in about 15 minutes. The at-home rapid antigen tests can be used at any time, such as if you have symptoms of COVID-19, were exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or before an indoor gathering.
Ask your health insurance provider how you can get COVID-19 self-tests at no cost or order your free at-home rapid tests through the State of Minnesota.
Know where your self-tests are at home and check the expiration dates.
Use your self-tests when you need them. Follow the instructions that come with the test kit.
Visit COVID-19 Self-testing to learn more about at-home tests.
Ways to get a COVID-19 vaccine before the holidays:
- Contact your health care provider or a local pharmacy.
- Use the state’s Find Vaccine Locations to find vaccine providers near you—providers will update their information as appointments are available.
- Check for vaccine appointments at Vaccines.gov, where you can search for appointments by vaccine type (e.g., Pfizer).
- Watch for vaccination clinics being offered at other community locations around Minnesota.