Know your risk factors

COVID-19 can affect anyone, and the disease can cause symptoms ranging from mild to very severe. We know that certain things can make people more likely to get very sick with COVID-19. We also know that certain settings and activities can make you more likely to get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Understanding Your Risk Helps You Make Decisions

Understanding the risk of COVID-19 for yourself and those around you can help you make informed decisions to keep you safe and healthy. If you have risk factors, have a COVID-19 plan in place in case you get sick, and discuss that plan with your healthcare provider and those close to you. Learn what extra precautions you can take to protect yourself and others in settings that make you more likely to be exposed to COVID-19.

Factors That Affect Your Risk of Getting Very Sick from COVID-19

Vaccination, past infection, or timely access to testing and treatment can help protect you from getting very sick if you get COVID-19. However, some people are more likely than others to get very sick if they get COVID-19. This includes people who are older, are immunocompromised, have certain disabilities, or have underlying health conditions. Understanding your COVID-19 risk and the risks that might affect others can help you make decisions to protect yourself and others.

Older adults (especially those ages 50 years and older, with risk increasing with older age) are more likely than younger people to get very sick if they get COVID-19. This means they are more likely to need hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they could die. Most COVID-19 deaths occur in people older than 65.

Having a weakened immune system, also known as being immunocompromised, can make you more likely to get very sick if you get COVID-19. People who are immunocompromised, or who are taking medicines that weaken their immune system, may not be protected as well as others, even if they are up to date on their vaccines. They may be eligible for Evusheld, a medicine given by a healthcare provider to help prevent COVID-19.

Certain underlying health conditions you have (for example, obesity or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) may affect your risk of becoming very sick if you get COVID-19.

Often, the more health conditions you have, the higher your risk. Certain conditions increase your risk more than others. For example, severe heart disease increases your risk more than high blood pressure.

Take action to protect yourself


COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to protect yourself and others around you from getting very sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. Booster doses can give you additional protection. They can help enhance or restore protection that might have decreased over time.

People who are vaccinated with all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters, are far less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than people the same age who have not been vaccinated or who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. However, even though vaccines reduce their risk, some people, particularly older adults with multiple underlying health conditions or people who are immunocompromised, can still get very sick from COVID-19.

Factors that lower or increase risk of transmission

Longer exposure time increases the risk of transmission (for example, contact longer than 15 minutes is more likely to result in transmission than two minutes of contact).

Cough or heavy breathing: Was the infected person coughing, singing, shouting, or breathing heavily? Activities like coughing, singing, shouting, or breathing heavily due to exertion increase the risk of transmission.

Symptoms: Did the infected person have symptoms at the time? Being around people who are symptomatic increases the risk of transmission.

Masks: Were you or the infected person or both wearing a respirator (for example, N95) or high-quality mask? If one person was wearing a mask, the risk of transmission is decreased, and if both people were wearing masks, the risk is substantially decreased. Risk is also lower if the mask or respirator is a type that offers greater protection.

Ventilation and filtration: How well-ventilated was the space? More outdoor air can decrease the risk of transmission. Being outside would be lower exposure risk than being indoors, even with good ventilation and filtration; both of those options would be lower risk than being indoors with poor ventilation or filtration.

Distance: How close was the infected person to you? Being closer to someone who is infected with COVID-19 increases the risk of transmission. Crowded settings can raise your likelihood of being close to someone with COVID-19.


About Being Exposed to COVID-19

If you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 or have been told by a healthcare provider or public health authority that you were exposed, here are the steps that you should take, regardless of your vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and the factors that make risk of spread higher or lower.

After Being Exposed to COVID-19

Wear a mask as soon as you find out you were exposed

  • Day 0 is the day of your last exposure to someone with COVID-19
  • Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure

You can still develop COVID-19 up to 10 days after you have been exposed

Wear a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g., N95) any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public 1

  • Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask. For travel guidance, see CDC’s Travel webpage.

Take extra precautions if you will be around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

If your test result is positive, follow the isolation recommendations.

Test even if you don’t develop symptoms.

If you already had COVID-19 within the past 90 days, see specific testing recommendations.

Continue taking precautions through day 10

  • Wear a high-quality mask when around others at home and indoors in public


If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you are sick:

If you test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.

  • Stay home for 5 days and isolate from others in your home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas and do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask
  • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
  • Do not travel and avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis if possible.

As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a well-fitting mask.

Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.

  • See COVID-19 and Animals if you have questions about pets.
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the health department may call you. Answer the call to slow the spread.

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or other symptoms.
  • Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.

  • Call ahead. Many medical visits for routine care are being postponed or done by phone or telemedicine.
  • If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients

  • You should wear a mask if you must be around other people or animals, including pets (even at home).
  • Wear a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.
  • You don’t need to wear the mask if you are alone. If you can’t put on a mask (because of trouble breathing, for example), cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This will help protect the people around you.
  • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 years, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is not able to remove the mask without help.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw away used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Handwashing Tips

  • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
  • Wash these items thoroughly after using them with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (for example, doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, and countertops) in your “sick room” and bathroom. In shared spaces, you should clean and disinfect surfaces and items after each use by the person who is ill.
  • If you are sick and cannot clean, a caregiver or other person should only clean and disinfect the area around you (such as your bedroom and bathroom) on an as needed basis. Your caregiver/other person should wait as long as possible (at least several hours) and wear a mask before entering, cleaning, and disinfecting shared spaces that you use.
  • Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
  • Use household cleaners and disinfectants. Clean visible dirty surfaces with household cleaners containing soap or detergent. Then, use a household disinfectant.
  • Use a product from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet with a disinfectant for a certain period of time (look at “contact time” on the product label).
  • You may also need to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, depending on the directions on the product label.
  • Immediately after disinfecting, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • For completed guidance on cleaning and disinfecting your home, visit Complete Disinfection Guidance.

  • Improve ventilation (air flow) at home to help prevent from spreading COVID-19 to other people in your household.
  • Clear out COVID-19 virus particles in the air by opening windows, using air filters, and turning on fans in your home.
  • Use this interactive tool to learn how to improve air flow in your home.

Face Covering

Certain offices (Such as the Health Service) May require masking.   Signage will be posted with this requirement.

N-95 masks are available free in Stoxen Library while supplies last.

COVID 19 Testing & Vaccinations

Southwestern District Health Unit

528 21st St West / 701.483.0171


Vaccinations will began Thursday, August 26 from 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Every other Thursday going forward.


Monday thru Friday / 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Location: COVID Response Building

DSU Student Health Service / Monday- Friday 8:00-10:00

Stickney Hall Room 120

Test Kits

Monday – Friday / 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Location: West door #2

DSU Student Health Service / Monday- Friday 8:00-10:00

Stickney Hall Room 120 – As long as supplies available